Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them vegetables.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
I. That the experiment was a most important one, not only for the object then immediately in view, but for furnishing lessons of permanent instruction adapted to future times. It was worth one such trial, and it was desirable to have one such illustration of the effect of temperance recorded. There are so strong propensities in our nature to indulgence; there are so many temptations set before the young; there is so much that allures in a luxurious mode of life, and so much of conviviality and happiness is supposed to be connected with the social glass, that it was well to have a fair trial made, and that the result should be recorded for the instruction of future times.
II. It was especially desirable that the experiment should be made of the effect of strict abstinence from the use of "wine." Distilled liquors were indeed then unknown; but alcohol, the intoxicating principle in all ardent spirits, then existed, as it does now, in wine, and was then, as it is now, of the same nature as when found in other substances. It was in the use of wine that the principal danger of intemperance then lay; and it may be added, that in reference to a very large class of persons of both sexes, it is in the use of wine that the principal danger always lies. There are multitudes, especially of young men, who are in little or no danger of becoming intemperate from the use of the stronger kinds of intoxicating drinks. They would never "begin" with them. But the use of "wine" is so respectable in the view of the upper classes of society; it is deemed so essential to the banquet; it constitutes so much, apparently, a mark of distinction, from the fact that ordinarily only the rich can afford to indulge in it; its use is regarded extensively as so proper for even refined and delicate females, and is so often sanctioned by their participating in it; it is so difficult to frame an argument against it that will be decisive; there is so much that is plausible that may be said in favor or in justification of its use, and it is so much sanctioned by the ministers of religion, and by those of influence in the churches, that one of the principal dangers of the young arises from the temptation to indulgence in wine, and it was well that there should be a fair trial of the comparative benefit of total abstinence. A trial could scarcely have been made under better circumstances than in the case before us. There was every inducement to indulgence which is ever likely to occur; there was as much to make it a mere matter of "principle" to abstain from it as can be found now in any circumstances, and the experiment was as triumphant and satisfactory as could be desired.
III. The result of the experiment.
(a) It was complete and satisfactory. "More" was accomplished in the matter of the trial by abstinence than by indulgence. Those who abstained were more healthful, more beautiful, more vigorous than the others. And there was nothing miraculous - nothing that occurred in that case which does not occur in similar cases. Sir John Chardin remarks, respecting those whom he had seen in the East, "that the countenances of the kechicks (monks) are in fact more rosy and smooth than those of others; and that those who fast much, I mean the Armenians and the Greeks, are, notwithstanding, very beautiful, sparkling with health, with a clear and lively countenance." He also takes notice of the very great abstemiousness of the Brahmins in the Indies, who lodge on the ground, abstain from music, from all sorts of agreeable smells, who go very meanly clothed, are almost always wet, either by going into water, or by rain; "yet," says he, "I have seen also many of them very handsome and healthful." Harmer's "Observa." ii. pp. 112, 113.
(b) The experiment has often been made, and with equal success, in modern times, and especially since the commencement of the temperance reformation, and an opportunity has been given of furnishing the most decisive proofs of the effects of temperance in contrast with indulgence in the use of wine and of other intoxicating drinks. This experiment has been made on a wide scale, and with the same result. It is demonstrated, as in the case of Daniel, that "more" will be secured of what men are so anxious usually to obtain, and of what it is desirable to obtain, than can be by indulgence.
(1) There will be "more" beauty of personal appearance. Indulgence in intoxicating drinks leaves its traces on the countenance - the skin, the eye, the nose, the whole expression - as God "meant" it should. See the notes at Daniel 1:15. No one can hope to retain beauty of complexion or countenance who indulges freely in the use of intoxicating drinks.
(2) "More" clearness of mind and intellectual vigour can be secured by abstinence than by indulgence. It is true that, as was often the case with Byron and Burns, stimulating drinks may excite the mind to brilliant temporary efforts; but the effect soon ceases, and the mind makes a compensation for its over-worked powers by sinking down below its proper level as it had been excited above. It will demand a penalty in the exhausted energies, and in the incapacity for even its usual efforts, and unless the exhausting stimulus be again applied, it cannot rise even to its usual level, and when often applied the mind is divested of "all" its elasticity and vigour; the physical frame loses its power to endure the excitement; and the light of genius is put out, and the body sinks to the grave. He who wishes to make the most of his mind "in the long run," whatever genius he may be endowed with, will be a temperate man. His powers will be retained uniformly at a higher elevation, and they will maintain their balance and their vigour longer.
(3) the same is true in regard to everything which requires vigour of body. The Roman soldier, who carried his eagle around the world, and who braved the dangers of every clime - equally bold and vigorous, and hardy, and daring amidst polar snows, and the burning sands of the equator - was a stranger to intoxicating drinks. He was allowed only vinegar and water, and his extraordinary vigour was the result of the most abstemious fare. The wrestlers in the Olympic and Isthmian games, who did as much to give suppleness, vigour, and beauty to the body, as could be done by the most careful training, abstained from the use of wine and all that would enervate. Since the temperance reformation commenced in this land, the experiment has been made in every way possible, and it has been "settled" that a man will do more work, and do it better; that he can bear more fatigue, can travel farther, can better endure the severity of cold in the winter, and of toil in the heat of summer, by strict temperance, than he can if he indulges in the use of intoxicating drinks. Never was the result of an experiment more uniform than this has been; never has there been a case where the testimony of those who have had an opportunity of witnessing it was more decided and harmonious; never was there a question in regard to the effect of a certain course on health in which the testimony of physicians has been more uniform; and never has there been a question in regard to the amount of labor which a man could do, on which the testimony of respectable farmers, and master mechanics, and overseers of public works, could be more decided.
(4) the full force of these remarks about temperance in general, applies to the use of "wine." It was in respect to "wine" that the experiment before us was made, and it is this which gives it, in a great degree, its value and importance. Distilled spirits were then unknown, but it was of importance that a fair experiment should be made of the effect of abstinence from wine. The great danger of intemperance, taking the world at large, has been, and is still, from the use of wine. This danger affects particularly the upper classes in society and young men. It is by the use of wine, in a great majority of instances, that the peril commences, and that the habit of drinking is formed. Let it be remembered, also, that the intoxicating principle is the same in wine as in any other drink that produces intemperance. It is "alcohol" - the same substance precisely, whether it be driven off by heat from wine, beer, or cider, and condensed by distillation, or whether it remain in these liquids without being distilled. It is neither more nor less intoxicating in one form than it is in the other. It is only more condensed and concentrated in one case than in the other, better capable of preservation, and more convenient for purposes of commerce. Every "principle," therefore, which applies to the temperance cause at all, applies to the use of wine; and every consideration derived from health, beauty, vigour, length of days, reputation, property, or salvation, which should induce a young man to abstain from ardent spirits at all should induce him to abstain, as Daniel did, from the use of wine.
and the wine that they should drink; which he also took for his own use:
and gave them pulse; to eat, and water to drink, as the Syriac version adds, and which they desired; when he found this agreed so well with them, and he could safely do it without exposing himself to danger, and being to his profit and advantage.Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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.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. Ezekiel 45:1. And when ye divide the land by lot for an inheritance, ye shall lift a heave for Jehovah as a holy (portion) from the land; five and twenty thousand the length, and the breadth ten (? twenty) thousand. It shall be holy in all its circumference round about. Ezekiel 45:2. Of this five hundred shall belong to the Holy by five hundred square round about, and fifty cubits open space thereto round about. Ezekiel 45:3. And from this measured space thou shalt measure a length of five and twenty thousand, and a breadth of ten thousand, and in this shall be the sanctuary, a holy of holies. Ezekiel 45:4. A holy (portion) of the land shall this be; to the priests, the servants of the sanctuary, shall it belong who draw near to serve Jehovah, and it shall be to them the place for houses and a sanctuary for the sanctuary. Ezekiel 45:5. And five and twenty thousand in length and ten thousand in breadth shall belong to the Levites, the servants of the house, for a possession to them as gates to dwell in. Ezekiel 45:6. And as a possession for the city, ye shall give five thousand in breadth and five and twenty thousand in length, parallel to the holy heave; it shall belong to the whole house of Israel. Ezekiel 45:7. And to the prince (ye shall give) on both sides of the holy heave and of the possession of the city, along the holy heave and along the possession of the city, on the west side westwards and on the east side eastwards, and in length parallel to one of the tribe-portions, from the western border to the eastern border. Ezekiel 45:8. It shall belong to him as land, as a possession in Israel; and my princes shall no more oppress my people, but shall leave the land to the house of Israel according to its tribes. - The domain to be first of all set apart from the land at the time of its distribution among the tribes is called תּרוּמה, heave, not in the general sense of the lifting or taking of a portion from the whole, but as a portion lifted or taken by a person from his property as an offering for God; for תּרוּמה comes from הרים, which signifies in the case of the minchah the lifting of a portion which was burned upon the altar as אזכּרה for Jehovah (see the comm. on Leviticus 2:9). Consequently everything that was offered by the Israelites, either voluntarily or in consequence of a precept from the Lord for the erection and maintenance of the sanctuary and its servants, was called תּרוּמה (see Exodus 25:2., Ezekiel 30:15; Leviticus 7:14; Numbers 15:19, etc.). Only the principal instructions concerning the heave from the land are given here, and these are repeated in Ezekiel 48:8-22, in the section concerning the division of the land, and to some extent expanded there. The introductory words, "when ye divide the land by lot for an inheritance," point to this. (See the map on Plate IV.) הפּיל, sc. גּירל (Proverbs 1:14), to cast the lot, to divide by lot, as in Joshua 13:6. Then shall ye lift, set apart, a heave for Jehovah as a holy (portion) from the land. מן is to be closely connected with קדשׁ, as shown by Ezekiel 45:4. In the numbers mentioned the measure to be employed is not given. But it is obvious that cubits are not meant, as Bttcher, Hitzig, and others assume, but rods; partly from a comparison of Ezekiel 45:2 with Ezekiel 42:16, where the space of the sanctuary, which is given here as 500 by 500 square, is described as five hundred rods on every side; and partly also from the fact that the open space around the sanctuary is fixed at fifty cubits, and in this case אמּה is added, because rods are not to be understood there as in connection with the other numbers. The correctness of this view, which we meet with in Jerome and Raschi, cannot be overthrown by appealing to the excessive magnitude of a τέμενος of twenty-five thousand rods in length and ten thousand rods in breadth; for it will be seen in Ezekiel 48 that the measurements given answer to the circumstances in rods, but not in cubits. The ארך before and after the number is pleonastic: "as for the length, twenty-five thousand rods in length." Length here is the measurement from east to west, and breadth from north to south, as we may clearly see from Ezekiel 48:10. No regard, therefore, is paid to the natural length and breadth of the land; and the greater extent of the portions to be measured is designated as length, the smaller as breadth. The expression אשׂרה אלף is a remarkable one, as עשׂרת אלפים is constantly used, not only in Ezekiel 45:3 and Ezekiel 45:5, but also in Ezekiel 48:9-10,Ezekiel 48:13, Ezekiel 48:18. The lxx have εἴκοσι χιλιάδας, twenty thousand breadth. This reading appears more correct than the Masoretic, as it is demanded by Ezekiel 45:3 and Ezekiel 45:5. For according to Ezekiel 45:3, of the portion measured in Ezekiel 45:1 twenty-five thousand rods in length and ten thousand in breadth were to be measured for the sanctuary and for the priests' land; and according to Ezekiel 45:5, the Levites were also to receive twenty-five thousand rods in length and ten thousand in breadth for a possession. The first clause of Ezekiel 45:3 is unintelligible if the breadth of the holy terumah is given in Ezekiel 45:1 as only ten thousand rods, inasmuch as one cannot measure off from an area of twenty-five thousand rods in length and ten thousand rods in breadth another space of the same length and breadth. Moreover, Ezekiel 45:1 requires the reading עשׂרים אלף, as the "holy terumah" is not only the portion set apart for the sanctuary and the priests' land, but also that which was set apart for the Levites.
According to Ezekiel 48:14, this was also "holy to Jehovah;" whereas the portion measured off for the city was "common" (Ezekiel 48:15). This is borne out by the fact that in the chapter before us the domain appointed for the city is distinguished from the land of the priests and Levites by the verb תּתּנוּ (Ezekiel 45:6), whilst the description of the size of the Levites' land in Ezekiel 45:5 is closely connected with that of the land of the priests; and further, that in Ezekiel 45:7, in the description of the land of the prince, reference is made only to the holy terumah and the possession of the city, from which it also follows that the land of the Levites is included in the holy terumah. Consequently Ezekiel 45:1 treats of the whole of the תּרוּמת קדשׁ, i.e., the land of the priests and Levites, which was twenty-five thousand rods long and twenty thousand rods broad. This is designated in the last clause of the verse as a holy (portion) in its entire circumference, and then divided into two domains in Ezekiel 45:2 and Ezekiel 45:3. - Ezekiel 45:2. Of this (מזּה, of the area measured in Ezekiel 45:1) there shall come, or belong, to the holy, i.e., to the holy temple domain, five hundred rods square, namely, the domain measured in Ezekiel 42:15-20 round about the temple, for a separation between holy and common; and round this domain there is to be a מגרשׁ, i.e., an open space of fifty cubits on every side, that the dwellings to the priests may not be built too near to the holy square of the temple building. - Ezekiel 45:3. המּדּה, this measure (i.e., this measured piece of land), also points back to Ezekiel 45:1, and מן cannot be taken in any other sense than in מזּה (Ezekiel 45:2). From the whole tract of land measured in Ezekiel 45:1 a portion is to be measured off twenty-five thousand rods in length and ten thousand rods in breadth, in which the sanctuary, i.e., the temple with its courts, is to stand as a holy of holies. This domain, in the midst of which is the temple, is to belong to the priests, as the sanctified portion of the land, as the place or space for their houses, and is to be a sanctuary for the sanctuary, i.e., for the temple. Ezekiel 45:5. A portion equally large is to be measured off to the Levites, as the temple servants, for their possession. The Keri יהיה is formed after the והיה of Ezekiel 45:4, and the Chetib יהיה is indisputably correct. There is great difficulty in the last words of this verse, עשׂרים לשׁכת, "for a possession to them twenty cells;" for which the lxx give αὐτοῖς εἰς κατάσχεσιν πόλεις τοῦ κατοικεῖν, and which they have therefore read, or for which they have substituted by conjecture, ערים לשׁבת. We cannot, in fact, obtain from the עשׂרים לשׁכת of the Masoretic text any meaning that will harmonize with the context, even if we render the words, as Rosenmller does, in opposition to the grammar, cum viginti cubiculis, and understand by לשׁכת capacious cell-buildings. For we neither expect to find in this connection a description of the number and character of the buildings in which the Levites lived, nor can any reason be imagined why the Levites, with a domain of twenty-five thousand rods in length and ten thousand rods in breadth assigned to them, should live together in twenty cell-buildings. Still less can we think of the "twenty cells" as having any connection with the thirty cells in the outer court near to the gate-buildings (Ezekiel 40:17-18), as these temple cells, even though they were appointed for the Levites during their service in the temple, were not connected in any way with the holy terumah spoken of here. Hvernick's remark, that "the prophet has in his eye the priests' cells in the sanctuary, - and the dwellings of the Levites during their service, which were only on the outside of the sanctuary, were to correspond to these," is not indicated in the slightest degree by the words, but is a mere conjecture. There is no other course open, therefore, than to acknowledge a corruption of the text, and either to alter לשׁכת `srym עשׂרים into לערים לשׁבת, as Hitzig proposes (cf. Numbers 35:2-3; Joshua 21:2), or to take עשׂרים as a mistake for שׁערים: "for a possession to them as gates to dwell in," according to the frequent use of שׁערים, gates, for ערים, cities, e.g., in what was almost a standing phrase, "the Levites who is in thy gates" ( equals cities; Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 14:27; Deuteronomy 16:11; cf. Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14, etc.). In that case the faulty reading would have arisen from the transposition of עש into שע, and the change of ב into כ.
Beside the holy terumah for sanctuary, priests, and Levites, they are also (Ezekiel 45:6) to give a tract of twenty-five thousand rods in length and five thousand rods in breadth as the property of the city (i.e., of the capital). לעמּת: parallel to the holy heave, i.e., running by the longer side of it. This portion of land, which was set apart for the city, was to belong to all Israel, and not to any single tribe. The more precise directions concerning this, and concerning the situation of the whole terumah in the land, are not given till Ezekiel 48:8-22. Here, in the present chapter, this heave is simply mentioned in connection with the privileges which the servants of the Lord and of His sanctuary were to enjoy. These included, in a certain sense, also the property assigned to the prince in Ezekiel 45:7 as the head of the nation, on whom the provision of the sacrifices for the nation devolved, and who, apart from this, also needed for his subsistence a portion of the land, which should be peculiarly his own, in accordance with his rank. They were to give him as his property (the verb תּתּנוּ is to be supplied to לנּשׂיא from Ezekiel 45:6) the land on this side and that side of the holy terumah and of the city-possession, and that in front (אל־פּני) of these two tracts of land, that is to say, adjoining them, extending to their boundaries, 'מפּאת ים , "from" (i.e., according to our view, "upon") the west side westward, and from (upon) the east side eastward; in other words, the land which remained on the eastern and western boundary of the holy terumah and of the city domain, both toward the west as far as the Mediterranean Sea, and toward the east as far as the Jordan, the two boundaries of the future Canaan. The further definition 'וארך לעמּות וגו is not quite clear; but the meaning of the words is, that "the length of the portions of land to be given to the prince on the east and west side of the terumah shall be equal to the length of one of the tribe-portions," and not that the portions of land belonging to the prince are to be just as long from north to south as the length of one of the twelve tribe-possessions. "Length" throughout this section is the extent from east to west. It is so in the case of all the tribe-territories (cf. Ezekiel 48:8), and must be taken in this sense in connection with the portion of land belonging to the prince also. The meaning is therefore this: in length (from east to west) these portions shall be parallel to the inheritance of one of the twelve tribes from the western boundary to the eastern. Two things are stated here: first, that the prince's portion is to extend on the eastern and western sides of the terumah as far as the boundary of the land allotted to the tribes, i.e., on the east to the Jordan, and on the west to the Mediterranean (cf. Ezekiel 48:8); and secondly, that on the east and west it is to run parallel (לעמּות) to the length of the separate tribe-territories, i.e., not to reach farther toward either north or south than the terumah lying between, but to be bounded by the long sides of the tribe-territories which bound the terumah on the north and south. ארך is the accusative of direction; אחד, some one (cf. Judges 16:7; Psalm 82:7). - In Ezekiel 45:8, לארץ with the article is to be retained, contrary to Hitzig's conjecture לארץ: "to the land belonging to him as a possession shall it (the portion marked off in Ezekiel 45:7) be to him." ארץ, as in 1 Kings 11:18, of property in land. In Ezekiel 45:8, the motive for these instructions is given. The former kings of Israel had no land of their own, no domain; and this had driven them to acquire private property by violence and extortion. That this may not occur any more in the future, and all inducement to such oppression of the people may be taken from the princes, in the new kingdom of God the portion of land more precisely defined in Ezekiel 45:7 is to be given to the prince as his own property. The plural, "my princes," does not refer to several contemporaneous princes, nor can it be understood of the king and his sons, i.e., of the royal family, on account of Ezekiel 46:16; but it is to be traced to the simple fact "that Ezekiel was also thinking of the past kings, and that the whole series of princes, who had ruled over Israel, and still would rule, was passing before his mind" (Kliefoth), without our being able to conclude from this that there would be a plurality of princes succeeding one another in time to come, in contradiction to Ezekiel 37:25. - "And the land shall they (the princes) leave to the people of Israel" (נתן in the sense of concedere; and הארץ, the land, with the exception of the portion set apart from it in Ezekiel 45:1-7). - The warning against oppression and extortion, implied in the reason thus assigned, is expanded into a general exhortation in the following verses.
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