|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:17-21 Daniel and his fellows kept to their religion; and God rewarded them with eminence in learning. Pious young persons should endeavour to do better than their fellows in useful things; not for the praise of man, but for the honour of the gospel, and that they may be qualified for usefulness. And it is well for a country, and for the honour of a prince, when he is able to judge who are best fitted to serve him, and prefers them on that account. Let young men steadily attend to this chapter; and let all remember that God will honour those who honour him, but those who despise him shall be lightly esteemed.
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.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Daniel continued,.... In Babylon, and at court there, and in the favour of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors:
even unto the first year of King Cyrus: by whom Babylon was taken, and when the seventy years' captivity of the Jews were at an end; which time Daniel was there, for the sake of observing which this is mentioned: not that Daniel died in the first year of Cyrus; or went from Babylon with the rest of the Jews to Jerusalem upon the proclamation of Cyrus, as Jacchiades thinks; for we hear of him at the river Hiddekel, in the third year of Cyrus, Daniel 10:1, but he was till this time in the court of the kings of Babylon; and afterwards in the courts of the kings of Media and Persia; for when it is said he was there, it does not so much intend his being there as the state and condition in which he was there; namely, as a favourite and prime minister; for he is said to prosper in the reign of Darius and Cyrus, Daniel 6:28. This is that Cyrus who was prophesied of by name, near two hundred years before he was born, by the Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 44:28, which were sure prophecies, and to be depended upon; and had their exact accomplishment in him. Heathen writers report many things, as presages and predictions of his future greatness; they tell us some dreams, which his grandfather Astyages had concerning his daughter Mandane, the mother of Cyrus; which the interpreters of dreams in those days explained of a future son of hers, that was to be lord of all Asia (h): and Megasthenes (i) relates a prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar, who before his death foretold to the Babylonians that a calamity should befall them, which neither his progenitor Belus nor Queen Beltis could avert; which was, that a Persian mule should bring them under subjection, assisted by a Mede; which is understood of Cyrus, who was a Medo Persian; his father was Cambyses king of Persia, and his mother Mandane was daughter of Astyages king of Media; and he, with Darius the Mede, or however with his army, conquered Babylon: and he is also supposed to be the mule in the Pythian oracle that should be king of the Medes; by which Croesus was deceived, who concluded a mule would never be a king; and therefore, as his kingdom was safe till there was such an one, it must be for ever so (k). The birth, parentage, and education of this prince, together with his victories, and particularly his taking of Babylon, are recorded by Xenophon in his history, in great agreement with this book of Daniel. Plutarch says (l) that Cyrus, or Coresh, as his name is in Hebrew, in the Persian tongue signifies the sun; and the name of the sun, Cheres, is pretty near in sound to it in the Hebrew tongue; and of the same signification and derivation with Cyrus, or Coresh, seems to be Carshena, one of the seven princes of Persia. Cyrus is remarkably famous for the edict he published in favour of the Jews, giving them liberty to go to their own land, and rebuild their temple, Ezra 1:1, according to Cicero (m), out of Dionysius the Persian, he lived to be seventy years of age; and died after a reign of seven years, according to Xenophon (n); and of nine years, according to Ptolemy's canon; the one reckoning from the time he became sole monarch of the empire; the other from his reigning in partnership with his uncle Cyaxares, or Darius the Mede.
(h) Herodoti Clio, sive l. 1. c. 107, 108. Justin. e Trogo, l. 1.((i) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 41. p. 456, 437. (k) Herodotus, Clio. sive l. 1. c. 55. (l) In Vita Artaxerxis. (m) De Divinatione, I. 1. (n) Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 45.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. Daniel continued … unto … first year of Cyrus—(2Ch 36:22; Ezr 1:1). Not that he did not continue beyond that year, but the expression is designed to mark the fact that he who was one of the first captives taken to Babylon, lived to see the end of the captivity. See my Introduction, "Significance of the Babylonian Captivity." In Da 10:1 he is mentioned as living "in the third year of Cyrus." See Margin Note, on the use of "till" (Ps 110:1, 112:8).
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