Daniel 1:10
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.
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(10) Of your sort, i.e., of your contemporaries, those who are of the same age with you.

Daniel 1:10. The prince of the eunuchs said, I fear my lord the king — He objects that he should incur the king’s displeasure, and bring his life into danger, if he complied with Daniel’s request; the king having appointed what sort of meat and drink Daniel and his young friends should use, and having given no one authority to change it for any other, especially for a kind less calculated to preserve their health, and increase the strength and vigour of their constitutions, and beauty of their appearance. For why should he see your faces worse liking — Hebrew, זעפים, σκυθρωπα, as the LXX. render it, more sad and dejected, or meager and lean; than the children which are of your sort — Or, which are of your age, as the Hebrew word גילsignifies in the Arabic, and as the LXX. understand it. Probably, however, the word may include the condition also.

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.And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king - He was apprehensive that if Daniel appeared less healthful, or cheerful, or beautiful, than it was supposed he would under the prescribed mode of life, it would be construed as disobedience of the commands of the king on his part, and that it would be inferred that the wan and emaciated appearance of Daniel was caused by the fact that the food which had been ordered had not been furnished, but had been embezzled by the officer who had it in charge. We have only to remember the strict and arbitrary nature of Oriental monarchies to see that there were just grounds for the apprehensions here expressed.

For why should he see your faces worse liking - Margin, "sadder." The Hebrew word (זעפים zo‛ăpı̂ym) means, properly, angry; and then morose, gloomy, sad. The primary idea seems to be, that of "any" painful, or unpleasant emotion of the mind which depicts itself on the countenance - whether anger, sorrow, envy, lowness of spirits, etc. Greek, σκυθρωπὰ skuthrōpa - stern, gloomy, sad, Matthew 6:16; Luke 24:17. Here the reference is not to the expression of angry feelings in the countenance, but to the countenance as fallen away by fasting, or poor living. "Than the children." The youths, or young men. The same word is here used which occurs in Daniel 1:4. Compare the note at that verse.

Which are of your sort - Margin, "term," or "continuance." The Hebrew word here used (גיל gı̂yl) means, properly, a circle, or circuit; hence an age, and then the men of an age, a generation. - "Gesenius." The word is not used, however, in the Scriptures elsewhere in this sense. Elsewhere it is rendered "joy," or "rejoicing," Job 3:22; Psalm 43:4; Psalm 45:15; Psalm 65:12; Proverbs 23:24; Isaiah 16:10; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 65:18; Jeremiah 48:33; Hosea 9:1; Joel 1:16. This meaning it has from the usual sense of the verb (גיל gı̂yl) "to exult," or "rejoice." The verb properly means, to move in a circle; then to "dance" in a circle; and then to exult or rejoice. The word "circle," as often used now to denote those of a certain class, rank, or character, would accurately express the sense here. Thus we speak of those in the "religious" circles, in the social circles, etc. The reference here is to those of the same class with Daniel; to wit, in the arrangements made for presenting them before the king. Greek, συνήλικα ὑμῶν sunēlika humōn, of your age.

Then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king - As if he had disregarded the orders given him, or had embezzled what had been provided for these youths, and had furnished them with inferior fare. In the arbitrary courts of the East, nothing would be more natural than that such an apparent failure in the performance of what was enjoined would peril his life. The word used here, and rendered "make me endanger" - חוב chûb - occurs nowhere else in the Bible. It means, in Piel, to make guilty; to cause to forfeit. Greek, καταδικάσητε katadikasēte - you will condemn, or cause me to be condemned.

10. worse liking—looking less healthy.

your sort—of your age, or class; literally, "circle."

endanger my head—An arbitrary Oriental despot could, in a fit of wrath at his orders having been disobeyed, command the offender to be instantly decapitated.

He believed their countenances would betray them; and the king having appointed it, he dares not disobey, for his life lay at stake.

And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king,.... This he said, not as refusing and denying the request of Daniel; but as hesitating about it, divided in his own mind, between love and tenderness to Daniel, and fear of the king: it is as if he should say, I could freely out of respect to you grant you your request; were it not for duty to my lord the king, reverence of him, and especially fear of his wrath and displeasure: who hath appointed your meat and your drink; has ordered it himself, both the quality and quantity, both what and how much; whose will is his law, and cannot be resisted, but must be obeyed; and though I should indulge you in this matter, and it may be concealed for a while, yet it cannot be always a secret, your countenance will betray it:

for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? than the other Jewish youths that were selected at the same time, and brought up in the same manner, and for the same ends. Some (x) render it, "than the children of your captivity"; who were taken and brought captive to Babylon when they were; but the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "than those of the same age" (y); their contemporaries, that were born about the same time, and brought up together in the same way: or, than those of your own nation? as some (z) translate it: and now, when they should be presented together to the king, the difference would be observable; Daniel and his companions would appear of a pale complexion, of thin and meagre looks, and dark dismal countenances, like persons angry, fretful, and troubled; as the word signifies (a); when their contemporaries would appear fat and plump, cheerful and pleasant; which would naturally lead into an inquiry of the reason of this difference:

then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king; I shall commit a trespass, of which I shall be found guilty, and be condemned to die, and lose my head for it; and now, as if he should say, I leave it with you; can you desire me to expose myself to so much danger? I would willingly grant your favour, but my life is at stake.

(x) "secundum captivitatem vesture", Gejerus; "in captivitate vestra; sic quidam legunt cum" Vatablus. (y) The word is only used in this place; but in the Arabic language "gil" is an age or generation, as in the Arabic version of Gen. vi. 9. Matt. i. 17. and xxiii. 36. Luke xi. 50, 51. So, in the Talmudic language, is one that is born in the same hour, and under the same planet, as the gloss explains it in T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 27. 2.((z) So Hottinger, who says the word in the Arabic language signifies a nation or country; and renders the words, "qui secundum nationem et gentem vestram", Smegma Orientals, l. 1. c. 7. p. 134. (a) see Genesis 40.6. 2 Chronicles 26.19. 1 Kings 20.43. and xxi. 4. Proverbs 19.3. 12. so Ben Melech.

And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, {n} 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.

(n) He supposed they did this for their religion, which was contrary to the Babylonians, and therefore in this he represents those who are of no religion: for neither would he condemn theirs, nor maintain his own.

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.

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. Daniel 1:10The words למּה אשׁר equals שׂלּמּה (Sol 1:7), for why should he see? have the force of an emphatic denial, as למּה in Genesis 47:15, Genesis 47:19; 2 Chronicles 32:4, and as למה דּי in Ezra 7:23, and are equivalent to "he must not indeed see." זעפים, morose, disagreeable, looking sad, here, a pitiful look in consequence of inferior food, corresponding to σκυθρωπός in Matthew 6:16. פּני is to be understood before הילדים, according to the comparatio decurtata frequently found in Hebrew; cf. Psalm 4:8; Psalm 18:34, etc. וחיּבתּם with וrelat. depends on למּה: and ye shall bring into danger, so that ye bring into danger. את־ראשׁ חיּב, make the head guilty, i.e., make it that one forfeits his head, his life.
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