Daniel 1
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

The first part of the book, describing the experiences of Daniel and his three companions under Nebuchadnezzar (chs. 1–4), Belshazzar (ch. 5), and Darius the Mede (ch. 6).


Chap. 1 describes how Daniel and his three companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, came to be in Babylon, at the court of Nebuchadnezzar, the scene of the events narrated in the following chapters (2–4). Nebuchadnezzar, in the third year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah (b.c. 605), laid siege to Jerusalem: part of the vessels of the Temple and some Jewish captives fall into his hands and are carried by him to Babylon (Daniel 1:1-2). He there gives directions for a number or youths of noble blood, including some of the Jewish captives, to be instructed in the language and learning of the sacred caste, and educated for the king’s service (Daniel 1:3-7). Among these youths are Daniel and his three companions, who, while content to pursue the studies prescribed by Nebuchadnezzar, crave and obtain permission to be allowed not to defile themselves in any way by partaking of the special delicacies provided for them from the king’s table (Daniel 1:8-16). At the expiration of three years, when the education of the selected youths is completed, the four Jewish youths are found to be distinguished beyond all the others in wisdom and knowledge, Daniel being skilled in particular in the interpretation of visions and dreams; they are accordingly admitted to the rank of the king’s personal attendants (Daniel 1:17-21).

The chapter serves a double purpose. It both serves as an introduction to the Book generally; and also teaches the practical lessons of the value, in God’s eyes, of obedience to principle, and of abstinence from self-indulgence. The rule which the four Jewish youths felt called upon to obey was indeed a ceremonial rule, of no permanent obligation; but it was one which, to Jews living amongst heathen, acquired sometimes a supreme importance (cf. on Daniel 1:8-10), so that obedience to it became a most sacred duty.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
1. In the third year &c.] Whether this is historically correct is doubtful. Jehoiakim’s reign lasted eleven years (b.c. 608–597); and the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:1) equates his fourth year with the first year of Nebuchadnezzar. Early in the same year (if the date in Jeremiah 46:2 is correct[171]) there had taken place the great defeat of the Egyptians by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish on the Upper Euphrates, the effect of which was to transfer the whole (virtually) of Western Asia from the power of Egypt to that of Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 25:9-11; Jeremiah 25:18-26; Jeremiah 46:25 f.; 2 Kings 24:7). We learn, now, from Berosus (ap. Josephus, Ant. x. xi. 1) that in this campaign Nebuchadnezzar was acting on behalf of his father, Nabopolassar, who was too infirm to conduct the war himself: ‘hearing soon afterwards of his father’s death, and having arranged the affairs of Egypt and the remaining country (i.e. Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, mentioned just before), and committed the Judaean, Phoenician, and Syrian prisoners, as well as those of the nations in Egypt, to some of his friends to convoy to Babylon with the heavy part of his army, he himself hastened home across the desert accompanied only by a few attendants.’ Although Judahite captives are here mentioned, nothing is said of any siege of Jersalem; and the terms in which Jeremiah speaks, not only in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:9 ff.), but also in his fifth year (Jeremiah 36:29, see Daniel 1:9), seem to imply that a Chaldaean invasion of Judah was still in the future (Ewald, Hist., iv. 257, n. 5, Keil), and that Jehoiakim had not already, in his third year, fallen into Neb.’s hands[172].

[171] See the Introduction, p. xlix.

[172] The invasion of Judah by Neb., and the three years’ submission of Jehoiakim, mentioned in 2 Kings 24:1-2, are also certainly to be placed after Jehoiakim’s fourth year—most probably, indeed, towards the close of his reign (cf. Ewald, l. c.).

According to Josephus (Ant. x. vi. 1) Neb., after the battle of Carchemish, ‘acquired possession of the whole of Syria, as far as Pelusium, except Judah’; and only made Jehoiakim tributary four years afterwards (2 Kings 24:1).

On the other hand, in the summary of Jehoiakim’s reign which, in 2 Chronicles 36:6-7, takes the place of 2 Kings 24:1-4, we read, ‘Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters to carry him to Babylon. And some of the vessels of the house of Jehovah brought Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon; and he put them in his palace in Babylon’: but the year in which this invasion took place is not specified; and a statement which rests on the authority of the Chronicler alone, and is not supported by contemporary testimony, is of slight value. It bears witness, however, to the existence, at about 300 b.c., of a tradition respecting an attack upon Jerusalem, and the carrying away of a part of the sacred vessels of the Temple, during Jehoiakim’s reign, which is also no doubt the basis of Daniel 1:1-2. The tradition, it must be owned, wears the appearance of being a Haggadic development of 2 Kings 24:1. Those who defend the accuracy of the statement of Daniel sometimes (Hengst., Keil, Zöckler) understand בא (‘came’), with reference to the starting-point, virtually as equivalent to set out, sometimes suppose that Nebuchadnezzar made an attack upon Jerusalem either (Hävernick, Pusey, p. 401) the year before the battle of Carchemish, or (Behrmann, p. xvii) after it, but that more serious consequences were for the time averted by Jehoiakim’s timely submission, and the surrender of some of the valuable vessels of the Temple. The first of these explanations is opposed to Heb. usage; the second, though possible in the abstract, is not strategically probable; the third, though it cannot be categorically rejected, seems scarcely consistent with what appears, from other indications, to have been the historical situation at the time. Cf. Ewald, iv. 264, n. 2.

Nebuchadnezzar] So Daniel 1:18, and uniformly in this book. The more correct form of the name is Nebuchadrezzar (properly Nabû-kudurriuṣur, i.e. (probably) ‘Nebo, protect [Heb.נָצַר] the boundary!’), which is the one usually found in contemporary writers, as Jeremiah 21:2; Jeremiah 21:7 (and generally in Jer.); Jeremiah 26:7; Jeremiah 29:18-19; Jeremiah 29:30[173].

[173] The incorrect form with n is found in Jeremiah 27-29 (except Jeremiah 29:21 : see Baer’s note on Jeremiah 21:2); in 2 Kings 24-25; and in Chr., Ezr., Neb., Est.

king of Babylon] Nebuchadnezzar did not become ‘king of Babylon’ until after the battle of Carchemish, in Jehoiakim’s fourth year (Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 46:2), so that the title must be used here (as in Jeremiah 46:2) proleptically. There is no authority in either Berosus or the Inscriptions for the supposition sometimes made that Nebuchadnezzar was associated on the throne by his father, Nabopolassar.

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.
2. gave into his hand Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and part, &c.] To ‘give into the hand’ as Jdg 3:10; Jeremiah 20:4; Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 22:25, and frequently. The expression is a strong one, and seems to imply that the writer had in view a defeat, and not merely a timely submission.

the house of God] A frequent expression in late writers for the Temple (e.g. 2 Chronicles 3:3; 2 Chronicles 4:19; 2 Chronicles 5:1; 2 Chronicles 5:14; 2 Chronicles 7:5): earlier writers say nearly always ‘the house of Jehovah’ (e.g. 1 Kings 7:40; 1 Kings 7:45; 1 Kings 7:48; 1 Kings 7:51).

which he carried] and he brought them. The pron. (as the text stands: see below, p. 4) refers to the vessels.

Shinar] properly Shin‘ar, a Hebrew name for Babylonia (Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:2; Genesis 14:1; Genesis 14:7; Joshua 7:21; Isaiah 11:11; Zechariah 5:11), here, no doubt, an old expression revived. The explanation of the name is uncertain, as nothing directly parallel has been found hitherto in the Inscriptions. According to some Assyriologists there are grounds for supposing it to be a dialectic variation of Shumer, the name given in the Inscriptions to South Babylonia[174]; but this explanation is not accepted by all scholars[175].

[174] As in the common title of the Assyrian kings, ‘King of Shumer and Akkad’ (Akkad being North Babylonia): so Delitzsch, Paradies (1881), p. 198, Assyr. Gramm. (1889), § 49a, Rem.; Schrader, KAT. 2 p. 118 f.; Prince, p. 58.

[175] Cf. Dillmann on Genesis 10:10. Sayce, Patriarchal Palestine, p. 67 f., connects the name with Sangar, a district a little W. of Nineveh.

to the house (i.e. temple) of his god] If any stress is to be laid upon the particular deity intended, it would be Marduk (the Merodach of Jeremiah 50:2), the patron-god of Babylon. According to 2 Chronicles 36:7, the vessels which Nebuchadnezzar brought to Babylon in the reign of Jehoiakim were placed by him in his palace[176]. But see the next note.

[176] See, however, Ezra 1:7; Ezra 5:14, though the gold and silver vessels mentioned here may be those carried away by Nebuchadnezzar with Jehoiachin (Jeremiah 27:16 [see Daniel 1:20, and cf. 2 Kings 24:13], Jeremiah 28:3), or Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:14-15).

and the vessels he brought, &c.] In the Heb. ‘the vessels’ is emphatic by its position, and would naturally imply that something different had been mentioned before. As the verse stands, the clause is almost tautologous with the preceding one: at all events, if the ‘treasure house of his god’ be really a place distinct from the ‘house of his god,’ the correction is attached very awkwardly. Ewald supposed that some words had fallen out, and proposed to read ‘Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with the noblest of the land, and part,’ &c. Certainly the transportation of captives is presupposed in Daniel 1:3; but the insertion of these words does not relieve the awkwardness of Daniel 1:2. It is better, with Marti, to reject the preceding words, ‘(in) the house of his god,’ as a gloss, intended originally to define the position of the ‘treasure house’ of clause b, which has found its way into the text in a wrong place[177]. Still, the author’s Hebrew is often far from elegant, and the anomalous wording of the verse is possibly original.

[177] The words were not, it seems, in the original LXX. (see Swete, footnote).

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;
3. Ashpenaz] No satisfactory explanation of this name has yet been found. Açp in old Persian means a horse (Sansk. açpa); but the name as a whole, in its present form, is not explicable from either Persian or Babylonian. LXX. has Αβιεσδρι. The word is not improbably a corrupt form (like ‘Holophernes,’ in Judith; or ‘Osnappar,’ Ezra 4:10).

the master of his eunuchs] Eunuchs were, and still are, common in Oriental Courts; they sometimes attained to great influence with the monarch, and were treated by him as confidential servants. Eunuchs are often represented on the Assyrian monuments, where they are readily recognizable by their bloated and beardless faces (cf. Smith, D. B.2 s. v.; Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies4, i. 496–8, iii. 221–223). The ‘master,’ or superintendent, of the eunuchs would have the control of the eunuchs employed in the palace, and would naturally hold an important position at court. The principal eunuch, with other eunuchs under him, would have the care of the royal harem; and the training of youths for the service of the king was a duty which would be naturally entrusted to him[178]. Cf. the prophecy, 2 Kings 20:18 (= Isaiah 39:7); though it is not said that Daniel and his companions were made eunuchs, and it is too much to infer this (as has been done) from the statement that they were put in charge of the ‘master of the king’s eunuchs’: in Persia eunuchs superintended the education of the young princes (Rawl. Anc. Mon.4, iii. 221); and in Turkey, Rycaut states (see the note below), a eunuch had charge of the royal pages.

[178] In Turkey, as described by Rycaut in 1668 (The Ottoman Empire, p. 35 ff.) the office was divided, the women being under the charge of a black eunuch, called Kuzlir Agasi, and the selected youths who were being educated in the Seraglio as pages for the royal service (together with the white eunuchs employed about the Court) being under the superintendence of a white eunuch, the Capa Aga (p. 25 ff.).

bring] bring in (R.V.), viz. into the palace (Daniel 1:18).

children of Israel] The expression would include, at the time here referred to, men of Benjamin and Levi, as well as of Judah (cf. Ezra 1:5; Ezra 4:1; Ezra 10:9), perhaps also men of other tribes who had migrated into the territory of Judah.

and of the seed royal, and of the nobles] If the first ו (‘and’) is to be taken in its obvious sense, the reference must be to members of the royal family and nobility of Babylon (so Prof. Bevan). Most commentators render both (cf. Daniel 8:13; Jeremiah 32:20; Psalm 76:7 [A.V. 6]), though that is hardly a sense which it would naturally convey in the present sentence. Perhaps it is best to understand it in the sense of and in particular (cf. Daniel 8:10).

of the seed royal] Lit. seed of royalty, or of the kingdom: so Jeremiah 41:1 (= 2 Kings 25:25); Ezekiel 17:13. Not necessarily the descendants of the reigning ‘king.’ LXX. ‘of the royal race.’

nobles] Heb. partĕmim, elsewhere only in Esther 1:3; Esther 6:9 : the Pers. fratama, Sansk. fratema, akin etymologically to πρότ-ερος, πρῶτ-ος. “The phrase martiyâ fratamâ, ‘foremost men,’ occurs several times in the Achaemenian inscriptions” (Bevan).

3–5. Nebuchadnezzar’s purpose to have certain noble and promising youths educated for the king’s service.

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.
4. children] youths (R.V.).

blemish] here of physical imperfection, as Leviticus 21:17-18, &c.

well favoured] An archaistic English expression for good-looking: so Genesis 29:17; Genesis 39:6; Genesis 41:2 al. As Mr Wright (Bible Word-Book, s. v. Favour) shews, ‘favour’ in old English meant face[179], so that ‘well favoured’ means having a handsome face. The Heb. (lit. good in looks) is the same as in Genesis 24:16; Genesis 26:7. An Oriental monarch would attach importance to the personal appearance of his attendants.

[179] Bacon, Essays, xxvii. p. 113, ‘As S. James saith, they are as men, that looke sometimes into a glass, and presently forget their own shape, and favour’; Cymbeline, dan 1:5, 93, ‘His favour is familiar to me.’

intelligent in all wisdom, and knowing knowledge, and understanding science] i.e. men of sagacity and intelligence, the combination of synonyms merely serving to emphasize the idea. ‘Cunning’ (i.e. kenning) in A.V., R.V., is simply an archaism for knowing, skilful, though the word is used generally where the reference is to some kind of technical knowledge (Genesis 25:27; Exodus 38:23 [where, for ‘cunning workman,’ read ‘designer’]; 1 Samuel 16:16; 1 Chronicles 25:7 [not R.V.]; 2 Chronicles 2:7; 2 Chronicles 2:13-14; Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 10:9 al.). The modern associations of the word prevent it, however, from being now a good rendering of the Hebrew.

science] In the Heb. a (late) synonym of ‘knowledge’ (as it is rendered Daniel 1:17; 2 Chronicles 1:10-12), and derived from the same root: the word is not to be understood here in a technical sense, but simply as a Latinism for ‘knowledge,’ used in default of any more colourless synonym.

ability] Properly, power; i.e. capacity, both physical and mental.

to stand] to take their place—with a suggestion of the idea of serving, which, with ‘before’ (see on Daniel 1:5), the word regularly denotes.

learning] literature: lit. book(s), writing(s), cf. Isaiah 29:11-12.

and the tongue of the Chaldeans] ‘Chaldeans’ is used here, not in the ethnic sense, which the word has in other books of the O. T., but to denote the learned class among the Babylonians, i.e. the priests, a large part of whose functions consisted in the study and practice of magic, divination, and astrology, and in whose hands there was an extensive traditional lore relating to these subjects (see more fully below, p. 12 ff.). The word has the same sense elsewhere in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 2:2; Daniel 2:4-5; Daniel 2:10, Daniel 3:8 (prob.), Daniel 4:7, Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:11). The literature on the subjects named is what is referred to in the present verse. The ‘tongue of the Chaldeans’ would be Babylonian, a Semitic language, but very different from Hebrew, so that it would have to be specially studied by a Jew. Many of the magical texts preserved in the cuneiform script are also written in the non-Semitic Sumerian (or ‘Accadian’); but it is hardly likely that the distinction between these two languages was present to the author.

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.
5. a daily portion of the king’s delicacies] Superior food, such as was served at the table of the king himself, was to be provided for the selected youths. It was a compliment to send anyone a portion of food from the table of a king or great man (Genesis 43:34, in Egypt; 2 Samuel 11:8, in Israel: 2 Kings 25:30, in Babylon, may be similar); and at least in Persia the principal attendants of the king, especially his military ones, seem to have had their provision from the royal table (Plut. Quaest. Conv. VII. iv. 5; Athen. iv. 26, p. 145 e, f.). The word rendered ‘delicacies’ (pathbâg) is a peculiar one, found in the O.T. only in Dan.: it is of Persian origin, and passed (like many other Persian words) into Syriac (Payne Smit[180] Thes. Syr. col. 3086 f.), as well as into late Hebrew. The Persian original would be patibâga, ‘offering,’ ‘tribute’ (from pati, Sanskr. prati, Greek ποτί, προτί, to, and bâg, tribute, Sk. bhâga, portion). The Sansk. pratibhâga actually occurs, and means ‘a share of small articles, as fruit, flowers, &c., paid daily to the Rája for household expenditure[181].’ The Pers. patibâga originally, no doubt, denoted similarly choice food offered to the king[182], though in Heb. and Syriac pathbâg was used more widely of choice food, or delicacies, in general. The word recurs in Daniel 1:8; Daniel 1:13; Daniel 1:15-16, Daniel 9:26.

[180] yne Smith R. Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syriacus.

[181] Gildemeister, as quoted by Max Müller, ap. Pusey, p. 565.

[182] Dinon in his Persica, writing c. 340 b.c., says (ap. Athen. xi. 503) that ποτίβαζις (which must be the same word) denoted a repast of cakes and wine, such as was prepared for the kings of Persia (ἔστι δὲ ποτίβαζις ἅρτος κρίθινος καὶ πύρινος ὀπτὸς καὶ κυπαρίσσου στέφανος καὶ οἶνος κεκραμένος ἐν ᾠῷ χρυσῷ οὗ αὐ αὐτὸς βασιλεὺς πίνει).

and that they should be nourished] or brought up: lit. made great: so Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 23:4 al.

stand before the king] as his attendants, to wait upon him: Deuteronomy 1:38; 1 Kings 10:8; 1 Kings 12:8.

Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
6. Mishael] ‘Who is what God is?’ (cf. Michael, ‘Who is like God?’), a name found also in Exodus 6:22, Leviticus 10:4 (of a cousin of Moses’); and in Nehemiah 8:4.

6, 7. Among the noble youths thus selected were four belonging to the tribe of Judah, who are named specially as forming the subject of the following narratives.

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.
7. And the prince of the eunuchs gave names unto them: unto Daniel he gave, &c.] as R.V. ‘Prince’ (Heb. sar, i.e. here, governor, superintendent, 1 Kings 9:22 [‘rulers’], 1 Kings 22:26) is a synonym of the rab of Daniel 1:3 (cf. Genesis 37:36 with Jeremiah 39:9). The practice of giving a person a new name, when admitted into the public service of a foreign country, is well attested in the case of Egypt (see not only Genesis 41:45, but also Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, p. 517 f.), and was probably usual elsewhere. There is an example, though it is not quite parallel, quoted from the reign of the Assyrian king, Esarhaddon, when Neco’s son was made viceroy of Athribis under the Assyrian name of Nabu-uǎêzib-anni (‘Nebo saves me’). In the present instance the change has the effect in each case of obliterating the name of God: Daniel, ‘God is my judge’; Ḥananiah, ‘Yah is gracious’; Mishael, ‘Who is what God is?’; Azariah, ‘Yah hath holpen.’

Belteshazzar] i.e. balâṭsu-uṣur, ‘protect his life!’; probably elliptical for Bêl-balâṭsu-uṣur, ‘Bel, protect his life!’ The name (which recurs Daniel 2:26, Daniel 4:8-9; Daniel 4:18-19, Daniel 5:12) is quite distinct from Belshazzar (see on Daniel 5:1).

Shadrach] Of uncertain meaning, but explained plausibly by Friedr. Delitzsch as Shudur-Aku, ‘the command of Aku’ (Aku being the Sumerian equivalent of Sin, the Semitic name of the Moon-god); cf. the proper name Kibît-Ishtar, ‘the word, or command, of Ishtar.’

Meshach] Explained by Delitzsch, somewhat less satisfactorily, as a hybrid word, partly Hebrew and partly Babylonian, properly Mîsha-Aku, ‘Who is what Aku is?’, cf. Mishael above, and the Babylonian names Mannu-ki-Rammân, ‘Who is like Rammân (Rimmon)?’, and Mannu-ki-ilu, ‘Who is like God?’

Abed-nego] generally recognized as a corruption of ‘Abed-nebo, ‘servant of Nebo’ (Isaiah 46:1). Proper names, compounded with ‘Abd (or ‘Ebed), ‘servant,’ are common in most Semitic languages; and, though it is not the usual word for servant in Babylonian, Babylonian names compounded with it occur. Indeed, the name Abed-nebo itself has been found in a bilingual (Assyr. and Aram.) inscription (Schrader, KAT[183][184] ad loc.); it is also, as Prof. Bevan remarks, met with as that of a heathen Syrian long after the Christian era (Cureton’s Ancient Syriac Documents, p. 14).

[183] AT. Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O.T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the original, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

[184] Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O.T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the original, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

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.
8–10. Daniel and his companions crave to be allowed not to use the provision supplied from the royal table. The meat might be that of animals not slaughtered in the proper manner (Deuteronomy 12:23-24), or of animals prohibited to the Jews as food (Leviticus 11:4-7; Leviticus 11:10-12; Leviticus 13-19, 20); while both the meat and the wine might have been consecrated to the Babylonian gods by portions having been offered to them in sacrifice, so that to partake of either would be tantamount to the recognition of a heathen deity (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:20; 1 Corinthians 10:27-29). The Jews, especially in later times, attached great importance to the dietary laws, and were also very scrupulous in avoiding acts which, even indirectly, might seem to imply the recognition of a heathen deity. Antiochus Epiphanes, in his endeavour (b.c. 168) to Hellenize the Jews, sought to compel them both to sacrifice to heathen deities and to partake of unclean food; and resistance to his edict was a point on which the utmost stress was laid by the loyal Jews (1Ma 1:47-48; 1Ma 1:62-63; cf. 2Ma 6:18 ff; 2Ma 7:1). Comp. also 2Ma 5:27; Add. to Esther 14:17; Jdt 12:1-2 (see Daniel 10:5); Tob 1:10-11 (where Tobit says that when he and his companions were taken captive to Nineveh, ‘all my brethren and those that were of my kindred did eat of the bread of the Gentiles, but I kept myself from eating’). Josephus (Vita 3) speaks of certain priests who, being sent to Rome, partook on religious grounds of nothing but figs and nuts. For the abrogation of the principle, in the new dispensation, see Mark 7:19 (R.V.), Acts 10:9-16,—comparing, however, also, 1 Corinthians 8:4-13.

with the king’s delicacies] as Daniel 1:5.

purposed in his heart] lit. laid (it) on his heart, i.e. gave heed (Isaiah 47:7; Isaiah 57:11, Malachi 2:2). ‘Purposed’ is too strong.

8–16. The loyalty to their faith shewn by the four Jewish youths.

Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
9. And God made Daniel to find kindness and compassion in the sight of, &c.] lit. ‘gave Daniel to kindness and compassion before’: exactly the same idiom which occurs (without ‘kindness and’) in 1 Kings 8:50 (whence Psalm 106:46). The pluperfect (‘had brought’) is grammatically incorrect: the meaning is that the kindness was experienced immediately after the request. Cf., though the expressions are different, the similar case of Joseph, Genesis 39:21.

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.
10. for why should] i.e. ‘lest,’ which would in fact be the better rendering. The expression is the translation into Hebrew of the ordinary Aramaic idiom for ‘lest’ (cf. Theod. μή ποτε).

worse liking] An old English expression for ‘in worse condition.’ Cf. ‘well-liking’ in Psalm 92:13, P. B. V.; properly ‘well-pleasing,’ i.e. in good condition; and 2 Hen. IV. iii. 2, 92, ‘You like well, and bear your years very well.’ The Heb. is zô‘ǎphîm, ‘gloomy,’ ‘sad,’—in Genesis 40:6 used of Pharaoh’s butler and baker, who were troubled mentally, here of the dejected appearance produced by insufficient nutriment. Theod. σκυθρωπά; cf. Matthew 6:16.

than the youths (Daniel 1:4) which are of your own age (R.V.); so should ye (Bevan) make my head a forfeit (lit. make my head guilty) to the king] The two sentences might be rendered more concisely, ‘lest he see …, and ye make my head a forfeit,’ &c. The officer who had charge of the Hebrew youths dreaded his master’s displeasure if he should see them thriving badly under his care.

age] The word (gîl), which occurs only here in the O. T., is found in the same sense in the Talmud (Levy, NHWB[185] i. 324); and in Samaritan, as Genesis 6:9; Genesis 15:16; Genesis 17:12, and often (not always), for the Heb. dôr (‘generation’).

[185] HWB. M. Levy, Neuhebräisches und Chaldäisches Wörterbuch, 1876–89.

Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
11. Melzar] the melẓar,—‘melẓar’ being the title of some officer, or attendant, of the court. What officer is intended is, however, uncertain, as the word has not hitherto been satisfactorily explained. Friedr. Delitzsch thinks that melẓar may be the Ass. maẓẓaru, ‘keeper’ (as in maẓẓar bâbi, ‘keeper of the gate’), the l taking the place of the doubled (cf. βάλσαμον from bassâm); and Schrader agrees that this explanation is possible. The term evidently denotes some subordinate official, appointed by the chief of the eunuchs to be in personal charge of Daniel and his companions.

11–16. From the answer given by the chief of the eunuchs, Daniel gathers that he does not view his request unfavourably, though he declines the responsibility of acceding to it himself. He therefore applies to the subordinate officer who has the immediate charge of himself and his companions, and induces him to try them temporarily with vegetable diet. The result of the experiment being satisfactory, the royal food is withdrawn from the Jewish youths.

Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
12. ten days] a round number of days (cf. Genesis 24:55; Genesis 31:7), sufficiently long to test the effects of the proposed diet.

let them] i.e. the people appointed for the purpose. A Hebrew idiom, the force of which would here be better expressed in English by the passive, ‘let there be given us’ (cf. Job 7:3 b, lit. ‘they have appointed,’ Psalm 63:11 a [A.V. 10a], Psalm 64:9 a [A.V. 8a]; and on ch. Daniel 4:25).

pulse] rather vegetable food in general; there is no reason for restricting the Heb. word used to leguminous fruits, such as beans and peas, which is what the term ‘pulse’ properly denotes. Cf. Isaiah 61:11, where almost the same word is rendered ‘the things that are sown,’ i.e. vegetable products.

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.
13. of the youths that eat the king’s delicacies] as Daniel 1:5; Daniel 1:8.

So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
14. consented] hearkened (R.V.),—the expression exactly as 1 Samuel 30:24.

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.
15. and (they were) falter in fleshy &c.] the expression as Genesis 41:2; Genesis 41:18 (of the kine) ‘fat-fleshed.’

the children, &c.] the youths which did eat the king’s delicacies.

Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
16. And the melẓar continued taking away their delicacies, … and giving them vegetable food] The Heb. idiom employed implies that the treatment which they received was now continuous.

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.
17. Now as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge (the word rendered science in Daniel 1:4), and intelligence (cf. intelligent, Daniel 1:4) in all literature (Daniel 1:4) and wisdom] ‘Wisdom’ is used here, in a concrete sense, of an intelligently arranged body of principles, or, as we should now say, science. The term must be understood as representing the popular estimate of the subjects referred to: for the ‘wisdom’ of the Chaldaean priests, except in so far as it took cognizance of the actual facts of astronomy, was in reality nothing but a systematized superstition.

and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams] or, ‘in every kind of vision and dreams.’ This was a point in which Daniel excelled the rest. The words are intended as introductory to the narrative following.

17–19. At the end of the three years (Daniel 1:5), Daniel and his three companions are brought before the king; and being found by him to be the most proficient of all whom he had directed to be educated, are promoted to a place among his personal attendants.

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.
18. And at the end of the days that the king had appointed (Daniel 1:5) for bringing them in (R.V.)] viz. to attend upon the king. ‘Appointed’ is lit. said, i.e. commanded, decreed, a common use in late Hebrew: cf. Daniel 1:3. As Daniel 1:19 (‘among them all,’ &c.) shews, the pron. them refers, not as the connexion with Daniel 1:17 might suggest, to the four Hebrew lads alone, but to the whole number of youths mentioned in Daniel 1:3-4.

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.
19. communed] talked. The Heb. word is the usual one for ‘speak,’ or ‘talk’; and nothing different from ordinary conversation is meant. ‘Commune’ occurs elsewhere in A.V., R.V., for the same Heb. word, and with exactly the same meaning; as Genesis 18:33; Genesis 23:8; Genesis 34:6; Exodus 25:22; Exodus 31:18; 1 Samuel 9:25; 1 Samuel 19:3, &c.

and (i.e. and so) they stood before the king] i.e. became his personal attendants (Daniel 1:5).

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.
20. The king found further, upon putting to them difficult questions, that in a knowledge of the technicalities of their science the four Jewish youths excelled even the wise men of Babylon themselves.

and in every particular of reasoned wisdom] lit. wisdom of understanding, i.e. wisdom determined or regulated by understanding, ‘wisdom’ having the same concrete sense of ‘science’ which it has in Daniel 1:17. Marti, however, following Theod., reads ‘wisdom and understanding.’

magicians] ḥarṭummim, recurring in Daniel 2:2; Daniel 2:10; Daniel 2:27, Daniel 4:7; Daniel 4:9, Daniel 5:7, probably of Egyptian origin (though not at present known to occur in Egyptian inscriptions), used otherwise only of the ‘magicians’ of Egypt (Genesis 41:8; Genesis 41:24; Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:7; Exodus 8:18-19; Exodus 9:11), and no doubt borrowed from the Pent. by the author of Daniel. The precise sense of the term is difficult to fix. It is not improbable that originally it denoted the sacred scribes (ἱερογραμματεῖς)[186] of Egypt; but, even if this opinion be accepted, it is doubtful how far the idea was consciously present to the Hebrews who in later times used the word. In Gen. the ḥarṭummim appear as interpreters of dreams (LXX. ἐξηγηταί), in Ex. as men able to work magic (LXX. ἐπαοιδοί, in Daniel 9:11 φαρπακοί): Theod. in Dan. renders by ἐπαοιδοί. Probably the word was used by the author of Daniel in the sense of men acquainted with occult arts in general, so that the rendering ‘magician’ may be allowed to stand.

[186] Clem. Alex. Strom. vi. 36; cf. Ebers, Aeg. u. die Bb. Mose’s, pp. 343, 347. On the functions of these sacred scribes, and the nature of the literature with which they had to deal (which included a knowledge of magic and charms), see Brugsch, Aegyptologie (1891), pp. 77, 85, 149–159.

astrologers] enchanters, Heb. ’ashshâph, Aram. ’âshaph, found only in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 2:2; Daniel 2:10; Daniel 2:27, Daniel 4:4, Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:11; Daniel 5:15), the Assyrian ashipu (Schrader, KAT[187][188] ad loc), which passed also into Syriac, where it is used specially of the charmers of serpents.

[187] AT. Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O.T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the original, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

[188] Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O.T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the original, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
21. A remark on the long continuance of Daniel—with the reputation, it is understood, implied in Daniel 1:20—in Babylon. The first year of Cyrus (b.c. 538) would be nearly 70 years after the date of Daniel’s captivity (Daniel 1:1), so that he would then be quite an aged man.

continued even unto] lit. was until. The expression is an unusual one; but the meaning, it seems, is that Daniel survived the fall of the empire of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, and remained, unaffected by the change of dynasty, till the first year of Cyrus, the year in which (Ezra 1:1; Ezra 5:13; Ezra 6:3) the Jews received permission to return to Palestine. He is mentioned indeed as still alive in the third year of Cyrus (Daniel 10:1); but that fact is here left out of consideration.

Cyrus] Heb. Kôresh, as regularly. The Persian form is Kuru(sh), the Babylonian Kurâsh.

Additional Note on the term ‘Chaldaeans’

The term ‘Chaldaeans’ (Heb. Kasdîm) is used in the Book of Daniel in a sense different from that which it has in any other part of the Old Testament. In other parts of the Old Testament (e.g. in Jeremiah, passim) it has an ethnic sense: it denotes a people which (in the inscriptions at present known) is thought to be first alluded to about 1100 b.c., and is certainly named repeatedly from 880 b.c.: they lived then in the S.E. of Babylonia, towards the sea-coast; afterwards, as they increased in power, they gradually advanced inland; in 721 b.c. Merodach-baladan, ‘king of the land of the Kaldu,’ made himself king of Babylon; and ultimately, under Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar, they became the ruling caste in Babylonia. In the Book of Daniel (except in Daniel 5:30, Daniel 9:1, where the term plainly has its ethnic sense), ‘Chaldaean’ is the designation not of the ruling caste at large, but of the class—or one of the classes—of wise men (Daniel 1:4, Daniel 2:2; Daniel 2:4-5; Daniel 2:10, Daniel 3:8 (prob.), Daniel 4:7, Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:11). Of this sense of the word there is no trace in the inscriptions; it is first found in Herodotus (c. 440 b.c.), and is common afterwards in the classical writers; and it dates really from a time when ‘Chaldaean’ had become synonymous with ‘Babylonian’ in general, and when virtually the only ‘Chaldaeans’ known were members of the priestly or learned class. The following passages will shew how the classical writers understood the term.

Hdt. i. 181 (in the description of the ‘ziggurat’ of Bel, i.e. [Tiele] Merodach, in Babylon): ‘as the Chaldaeans, being priests of this god, say.’

i. 183: ‘On the greater altar [in the precincts of the temple at the foot of the ‘ziggurat’] the Chaldaeans burn also 1000 talents of frankincense every year, when they celebrate the festival pf this god.’

Also, in the same chapter, ‘as the Chaldaeans said,’ and ‘I did not see it, but I say what is said by the Chaldaeans.’

Strabo (1 cent. b.c.) xvi. 1 § 6: ‘There is also a quarter reserved in Babylon for the native philosophers called “Chaldaeans,” who pursue principally the study of astronomy. Some claim also to cast nativities; but these are not recognized by the others. There is moreover a tribe of the Chaldaeans, and a district of Babylonia, inhabited by them, near the Arabian and the Persian Gulf[189]. There are also several classes (γένη) of the astronomical Chaldaeans, some being called Orcheni [i.e. belonging to Orchoe, or Uruk], others Borsippans, and others having other names according to the different doctrines held by their various schools.’

[189] This sentence (cf. § 8 and 3 § 6) is interesting, as it shews that ‘Chaldaeans,’ in the original ethnic sense of the name, were still resident in their ancient homes.

Diodorus Siculus (1 cent. b.c.) describes them at greater length. The ‘Chaldaeans,’ he says (Daniel 2:29), ‘form a caste, possessing a fixed traditional lore, in which successive generations are brought up, and which they transmit unchanged to their successors. They are among the most ancient of the Babylonians, and hold in the state a position similar to that of the priests in Egypt. Appointed primarily to attend to the worship of the gods, they devote their lives to philosophy, enjoying especially a reputation for astrology. They are also much occupied with divination (μαντική), uttering predictions about the future; and by means partly of purifications, partly of sacrifices, and partly of incantations (ἐπῳδαί), endeavour to avert evil [cf. Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:11-13] and to complete happiness. They are moreover experienced in divination by means of birds, and interpret dreams and omens (τέρατα); they are also practised in the inspection of sacrificial animals (ἱεροσκοπία), and have a character for divining accurately by their means.’ And he proceeds (cc. 30, 31) to give some account of the astronomical doctrines of the ‘Chaldaeans,’ and to speak of their remarkable skill in predicting the destinies of men from observation of the planets[190].

[190] Cf. also Cic. Divin. i. i., xli., ii. xli–xliii., xlvii.; Tusc. i. xl.; de Fato viii. (a criticism of their astrological claims); Juv. x. 94, xiv. 248, with Mayor’s notes.

In the view of the classical writers, the ‘Chaldaeans’ were thus a caste of priests, who were also diviners, magicians, and (especially) astrologers. Except in what concerns the name ‘Chaldaeans,’ the statements of Diodorus, as far as they go, are correct, and substantiated by what is now known from the inscriptions. Here is what is said in the most recent and best work upon the subject[191]:

[191] Jastrow’s Religion of Babylonia and Assyria (Boston, U.S.A. 1898), p. 656 f.

“The general name for priests was shangû, which by a plausible etymology suggested by Jensen, indicates the function of the priest as the one who presides over the sacrifices. But this function represents only one phase of the priestly office in Babylonia, and not the most important one, by any means. For the people, the priest was primarily the one who could drive evil demons out of the body of the person smitten with disease, who could thwart the power of wizards and witches, who could ward off the attacks of mischievous spirits, or who could prognosticate the future and determine the intention or will of the gods. The offering of sacrifices was one of the means to accomplish this end, but it is significant that many of the names used to designate the priestly classes have reference to the priest’s position as the exorciser of evil spirits, or his power to secure a divine oracle or to foretell the future, and not to his function as sacrificer. Such names are mashmashu, the general term for ‘the charmer’; kalû, so called, perhaps, as the ‘restrainer’ of the demons, the one who keeps them in check; lagaru, a synonym of kalû; makhkhû[192], ‘soothsayer’; surrû, a term which is still obscure; shâilu, the ‘inquirer,’ who obtains an oracle through the dead or through the gods[193]; mushêlu[194], ‘necromancer’; âshipu[195] or ishippu, ‘sorcerer’.”

[192] Whence, probably, the ‘Rab-mag,’ i.e. ‘chief of the soothsayers,’ of Jeremiah 39:3; Jeremiah 39:13.

[193] Cf. the Heb. שׁאל in Deuteronomy 18:11; Jdg 1:1; 1 Samuel 23:2; 1 Samuel 28:6, &c.

[194] Lit. the ‘bringer up,’ from elû = עלה: comp. 1 Samuel 28:11.

[195] Comp. on Daniel 1:20.

The antiquity, if not of the ‘Chaldaeans’ under this name, yet of the priests in whose hands the traditional lore mentioned by Diodorus was, is also well established: “the magical texts formed the earliest sacred literature” of Babylonia[196]; and the great astrological work, called Nûr-Bel, ‘the Light of Bel,’ is earlier than b.c. 2000.

[196] Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, p. 337.

Babylonia was the land of magic (cf. Isaiah 47:9-13); and a very extensive literature, dealing with different branches of the subject, has been brought to light during recent years. Demons, or evil spirits, were supposed to be active upon earth, bringing to mankind diseases, misfortunes, and every kind of ill; the heavens were supposed to exercise an influence over the destinies of men and nations; all kinds of natural occurrences which we should describe as accidental, such as an animal entering a building, were supposed to be declarations of the will of the gods; and methods had to be devised for the purpose of dealing with the occult agencies concerned, of interpreting all significant phenomena, and of averting, where this was held to be possible, the evils which they portended. The demons were ever present and ever active: so sorcerers and sorceresses sprang up, who, by means of various magical devices, could invoke the demons at their will, and bring such persons as they chose within their power. On the other hand, the priests were ready with means for protecting people who were thus assailed; and many collections of ‘incantations’ have come down to us, each dealing with some particular kind of demonic evil, or providing some particular method of protection against demons. In particular, every kind of disease was attributed to the action of some malignant spirit, either attacking a person spontaneously, or induced to do so by bewitchment; and the cure was effected by exorcising the demon through prescribed formulae of supposed power, accompanied by symbolical acts (e.g. burning the image of the witch)[197]. Omens were also carefully observed, and tables were drawn up describing the significance of all kinds of occurrences, including the most trifling, in heaven and earth. “Fully one-fourth of the portion of Asshurbanabal’s library that has been discovered consists of omen-tablets of various sizes in which explanations are afforded of all physical peculiarities to be observed in animals and men, of natural phenomena, of the positions and movements of the planets and stars, of the incidents and accidents of public and private life—in short, of all possible occurrences and situations[198].”

[197] Jastrow, pp. 253–293.

[198] Jastrow, pp. 352–406. See further Lenormant, La Magie chez les Chaldéens (1874), and La Divination et la Science des Présages chez les Chaldéens (1875); the translations of magical texts in Sayce’s Hibbert Lectures for 1887, p. 441 ff. (‘to be accepted with caution,’ Jastrow, p. 713); and the literature cited by Jastrow, p. 717 ff. Minuter details would here be out of place, as they would not really illustrate anything in the Book of Daniel.

The principles upon which the explanations of all these phenomena were drawn up were, no doubt, partly the association of ideas (as when the sight of a lion symbolized strength, or success), and partly the extension of a single coincidence between a given phenomenon and a particular subsequent occurrence, into a general law. It is, however, evident to what long and elaborate treatises the systematization of rules for dealing with, and explaining, such an immense variety of phenomena would ultimately lead.

There are six terms used in the Book of Daniel as designations of diviners or magicians, viz. (1) wise men (חכמים), (2) enchanters (אשפים), (3) magicians (חרטמים), (4) ‘Chaldeans’ (כשדים), (5) determiners (of fates) (גזרין), (6) sorcerers (מכשפים), which are distributed as follows:—

Daniel 1:20 the magicians and the enchanters.

Daniel 2:2 the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans.

Daniel 2:10 b any magician, enchanter, or Chaldean.

Daniel 2:27 wise men, enchanters, magicians, (or) determiners (of fates).

Daniel 4:7 the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the determiners (of fates).

Daniel 5:7 the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the determiners (of fates).

Daniel 5:11 (of Daniel) ‘master of magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, (and) determiners (of fates).’

Daniel 5:15 the wise men, (even) the enchanters.

Wise men occurs besides, alone, in the expression ‘(all) the wise men of Babylon,’ in Daniel 2:12-13 (‘the wise men’), 14, 18, 24, 48, Daniel 4:6; Daniel 4:18 (‘all the wise men of my kingdom’), Daniel 5:7-8 (‘the wise men of the king’): ‘Chaldeans’ also occurs alone in Daniel 1:4 ‘the literature and language of the Chaldeans’ (seemingly in a general sense); in Daniel 2:4-5; Daniel 2:10 a (as speaking on behalf of the ‘wise men’ generally); and in Daniel 3:8 : and ḥarṭummim is used in a generic sense in Daniel 4:9 (where Daniel is called ‘master of the ḥarṭummim’; cf. Daniel 2:48 and Daniel 5:11).

A comparison of the passages shews that the terms in question are used with some vagueness. The generic term appears certainly to be ‘wise men’; but in Daniel 2:27 even this appears to be coordinated with three of the special classes. In Diodorus Siculus ‘Chaldaeans’ is the generic term; but in Daniel that, except once, appears as the name of one class beside others: in Daniel 1:4, however (unless, which is improbable, there was no special ‘literature’ connected with any of the other classes), it is used in a generic sense. In Daniel 4:7 and Daniel 5:11 ‘determiners (of fates)’ appears to take the place of ‘sorcerers’ in Daniel 2:2, although the two terms do not seem to be by any means synonymous. Nor are the several classes of wise men named in Daniel known to correspond to any division or classification indicated by the inscriptions. The attempts which have been made to prove the contrary cannot be pronounced successful. Lenormant, for example[199], observing that the great work on magic preserved in Asshurbanabal’s library consists of three parts, dealing respectively with incantations against evil spirits, incantations against diseases, and magical hymns, argued that these three divisions corresponded exactly to the three classes, ḥarṭummim or ‘conjurateurs,’ wise men or ‘médecins,’ and ’ashshâphim or ‘théosophes,’ mentioned in Daniel by the side of the astrologers and diviners (kasdim and gâzerin): but the parallel drawn is an arbitrary one; there is no reason whatever for supposing that ‘wise men’ in Heb. or Aramaic denoted ‘médecins,’ or ’ashshâphim ‘théosophes.’ It seems evident that the author simply took such terms denoting diviners or magicians, as were traditionally connected with Babylon, or seemed to him on other grounds to be suitable, and combined them together, for the purpose of presenting a general picture of the manner in which the arts of divination and magic were systematically studied in Babylon.

[199] La Magie, p. 13 f.

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