Daniel 1:3
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;
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(3) Ashpenaz . . . his eunuchsi.e., the courtiers or attendants upon the king. (See marginal translation of Genesis 37:36; and compare Jeremiah 39:3, where a Rab-saris, or chief of the courtiers, is mentioned. See also Isaiah 39:7.)

The king’s seed.—According to the story of Josephus (Ant. x. 10, 1), Daniel and the three holy children were all connected with Zedekiah. The context makes this opinion perfectly admissible.

Daniel 1:3-4. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz, master of the eunuchs — One of the chief officers of his palace; the officers that attended about the persons of the eastern kings being commonly eunuchs, (a custom still practised in the Ottoman court,) such being employed as guardians over the women which the kings kept for their pleasure. That he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and, or rather, even, of the king’s seed — The conjunction copulative being often used by way of explication. And thus Isaiah’s prophecy was punctually fulfilled, Isaiah 39:7. Children in whom was no blemish — He was directed to make choice of such as were comely, and had no defect or deformity of body, to which the Hebrew word מאום, here used, is chiefly applied, answerable to the Greek μωμος. But by the subsequent characters in the verse, it should seem that the young men were to be as complete in every respect as was possible, perfect in their mental as well as corporal powers. The greatest care seems to have been required as to the accomplishments of their minds, and on this account three several expressions are made use of, the particular force of each of which it may not be easy to ascertain. “Perhaps,” says Mr. Wintle, “the first relates to the best and most excellent natural abilities; the second, to the acquisition of the greatest improvements from cultivation; and the third, to the communication of their perceptions in the happiest manner to others.” He translates the clause as follows: Ready of understanding in all wisdom, and of skill in science, and expert in prudence. Or, more generally, the expressions may only signify that they were to be such as had been instructed, and had made proficiency, in every thing that was taught in the land of Judea. And such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace — Not only being of a strong constitution to endure the fatigue of long waitings, in or near the royal presence, during which they were not permitted to sit down; “but qualified for every business in which they might be employed, and to do credit to the situation in which they were to stand.” And whom they might teach the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans — As Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, so we are not to wonder that Daniel was taught the learning of the Chaldeans; and that he so far excelled in it, as to be placed at the head of the magi: see Daniel 4:9. It must be observed that the word ילדים, rendered children in the beginning of this verse, does not signify persons in a state of childhood, but refers to those of more advanced years. The expression is applied to Rehoboam’s counsellors, 1 Kings 12:8, who cannot be thought to have been mere children. Nor can we suppose Daniel and his companions to have been less than eighteen or twenty years of age at this time, as may be concluded from Daniel’s being put into considerable posts in the government soon after.

1:1-7 Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, took Jerusalem, and carried whom and what he pleased away. From this first captivity, most think the seventy years are to be dated. It is the interest of princes to employ wise men; and it is their wisdom to find out and train up such. Nebuchadnezzar ordered that these chosen youths should be taught. All their Hebrew names had something of God in them; but to make them forget the God of their fathers, the Guide of their youth, the heathen gave them names that savoured of idolatry. It is painful to reflect how often public education tends to corrupt the principles and morals.And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs - On the general reasons which may have influenced the king to make the selection of the youths here mentioned, see the analysis of the chapter. Of Ashpenaz, nothing more is known than is stated here. Eunuchs were then, as they are now, in constant employ in the harems of the East, and they often rose to great influence and power. A large portion of the slaves employed at the courts in the East, and in the houses of the wealthy, are eunuchs. Compare Burckhardt's "Travels in Nubia," pp. 294, 295. They are regarded as the guardians of the female virtue of the harem, but their situation gives them great influence, and they often rise high in the favor of their employers, and often become the principal officers of the court. "The chief of the black eunuchs is yet, at the court of the Sultan, which is arranged much in accordance with the ancient court of Persia, an officer of the highest dignity. He is called Kislar-Aga, the overseer of the women, and is the chief of the black eunuchs, who guard the harem, or the apartments of the females. The Kislar-Aga enjoys, through his situation, a vast influence, especially in regard to the offices of the court, the principal Agas deriving their situations through him." See Jos. von Hammers "des Osmanischen Reichs Staatsverwalt," Thes i. s. 71, as quoted in Rosenmuller's "Alte und neue Morgenland," ii. 357, 358.

That it is common in the East to desire that those employed in public service should have vigorous bodies, and beauty of form, and to train them for this, will be apparent from the following extract: "Curtius says, that in all barbarous or uncivilized countries, the stateliness of the body is held in great veneration; nor do they think him capable of great services or action to whom nature has not vouchsafed to give a beautiful form and aspect. It has always been the custom of eastern nations to choose such for their principal officers, or to wait on princes and great personages. Sir Paul Ricaut observes, 'That the youths that are designed for the great offices of the Turkish empire must be of admirable features and looks, well shaped in their bodies, and without any defect of nature; for it is conceived that a corrupt and sordid soul can scarcely inhabit in a serene and ingenuous aspect; and I have observed, not only in the seraglio, but also in the courts of great men, their personal attendants have been of comely lusty youths, well habited, deporting themselves with singular modesty and respect in the presence of their masters; so that when a Pascha Aga Spahi travels, he is always attended with a comely equipage, followed by flourishing youths, well clothed, and mounted, in great numbers. '" - Burder. This may serve to explain the reason of the arrangement made in respect to these Hebrew youths.

That he should bring certain of the children of Israel - Hebrew, "of the sons of Israel." Nothing can with certainty be determined respecting their "age" by the use of this expression, for the phrase means merely the descendants of Jacob, or Israel, that is, "Jews," and it would be applied to them at any time of life. It would seem, however, from subsequent statements, that those who were selected were young men. It is evident that young men would be better qualified for the object contemplated - to be "trained" in the language and the sciences of the Chaldeans Daniel 1:4 - than those who were at a more advanced period of life.

And of the king's seed, and of the princes - That the most illustrious, and the most promising of them were to be selected; those who would be most adapted to accomplish the object which he had in view. Compare the analysis of the chapter. It is probable that the king presumed that among the royal youths who had been made captive there would be found those of most talent, and of course those best qualified to impart dignity and honor to his government, as well as those who would be most likely to be qualified to make known future events by the interpretation of dreams, and by the prophetic intimations of the Divine will.

3. master of … eunuchs—called in Turkey the kislar aga.

of the king's seed—compare the prophecy, 2Ki 20:17, 18.

These here called eunuchs were chief among the king’s servants, and they are called

eunuchs because many of them were such of old among all the princes of the East, and at this day, but they were not all such, Jeremiah 52:25. The word translated

eunuch signifies also

chamberlain; such was

Hatach, Esther 4:5; such were

Bigthana and

Teresh, Esther 6:2, and

Harbonah, Esther 7:9, and

Ashpenaz in the text, the master of the king’s eunuchs, who had set

Melzar over Daniel and his companions, Daniel 1:11.

Here was fulfilled what the prophet Isaiah had foretold king Hezekiah, Isaiah 39:7. Some think Daniel and his companions were made eunuchs in a strict sense, which doth not appear to be probable; but rather to be bred up in the court for officers, and thereby to alienate their minds from the religion of their country, and from seeking the welfare and return of their people; but God had otherwise appointed by this education of them, as appears in many signal testimonies of the presence and power of God with them, for the conviction of idolaters that God was above all gods.

And the king spake unto Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs,.... That is, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon spake to this officer of his, whose name was Ashpenaz; which, according to Saadiah, signifies a man of an angry countenance; but Hillerus (e) derives it from the Arabic word "schaphan", as designing one that excels in wit and understanding; for which reason he might have the command of the eunuchs, many of which the eastern princes had about them, particularly to wait upon their women, or to educate youth, as the Turks have now; though, as R. Jeshuah in Aben Ezra observes, the word signifies ministers, and may intend the king's nobles and courtiers, his ministers of state; and so this Ashpenaz may be considered as his prime minister, to whom he gave orders,

that he should bring certain of the children of Israel; whom he had taken and brought captive to Babylon, and were disposed of in some part or another of the city and country; and out of these it was his will that some should be selected and brought to his court:

and of the king's seed, and of the princes: or, "even (f) of the king's seed, and of the princes"; not any of the children of Israel, but such as were of the blood royal, or of the king of Judah's family, or some way related to it; or, however, that were of princely birth, the children of persons of the first rank, as the word (g) may signify; or of nobles and dukes, as Jarchi interprets it.

(e) Onomast. Sacr. p. 752, 753. (f) , so is sometimes rendered; see Noldius. p. 276. (g) "ex Graeca voce" Grotius, Junius.

And the king spake unto {c} Ashpenaz the master of his {d} eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the {e} king's seed, and of the princes;

(c) Who was as master of the guards.

(d) He calls them eunuchs whom the King nourished and brought up to be rulers of other countries afterwards.

(e) His purpose was to keep them as hostages, and so that he might show himself victorious, and also by their good entreaty and learning of his religion, they might favour him rather than the Jews, and so to be able to serve him as governors in their land. Moreover by this means the Jews might be better kept in subjection, fearing otherwise to bring hurt upon these noble men.

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.

Verses 3, 4. - And the king spoke unto Ash-penaz 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; 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. The version of the LXX. here becomes important: "And the king spoke to Abiesdri, his own chief eunuch (τῷ ἑαυτοῦ ἀρχιευνούχῳ), to lead to him from the sons of the nobles of Israel, and from the seed royal, and from the choice ones, four young men, without blemish, of goodly appearance, and understanding in all wisdom, and educated, and prudent, and wise, and strong, so that they may be in the house of the king, and may be taught the letters and tongue of the Chaldees." The version of Theodotion is in closer accordance with the Massoretic text, only it inserts "captivity" where the LXX. had "nobles," and reads, "from the sons of the captivity of Israel." In this version the name of the chief of the eunuchs is the same as the Massoretic; the word rendered "princes" in the Authorized Version is transliterated φορθομμίν. The rendering, "the seed of the kingdom," is more literal than that of the Authorized, "the king's seed" The Peshitta is in close agreement with the Massoretic text, save that, instead of "Ashpenaz," the name of the chief of the eunuchs is written "Aspaz," and the word translated "princes" (parte-mira) is transliterated Parthouia, which means literally "Parthians." Symmachus reads Παρθῶν. The king spake unto Ashpenaz. There is assumed here that there were a large number of Israelitish hostages who would be reckoned captives whenever the conquered state gave cause of suspicion to the regnant power in whose hands the hostages were, and they were possibly eunuchized. It is possible that Nebuchadnezzar wished to use these hostages about the court, in order that, having tasted the pleasure and dignities of the magnificent court of Babylon, their influence would be exercised on their relatives to maintain them in fidelity. The phrase, "spake unto," has. in later Hebrew, the force of "command," especially when followed by an infinitive, as Esther 1:17. As translated in the Authorized Version. the impression conveyed is that of consultation. The name "Ash-penaz" has caused much discussion. As it stands, it is not Assyrian or Babylonian. The form it has suggests a Persian etymology, and on this fact, along with other similar alleged facts, an argument against the authenticity of Daniel has been based. One derivation would make it ashpa, "a horse;" nasa, "a nose," "horse nose" - by no means an impossible personal name for a Persian or Median. In one or two cuneiform inscriptions of the Persian period the name occurs. Nothing can be built on this, as in the Septuagint the name is given as Ἀβιεσδρὶ: in the Peshitta it becomes "Ash-paz," as we have mentioned above. It would be easily possible to derive" Ashpaz" from "Ashpenaz," or vice versa; but there seems no relation between Abiesdri and either. By some, as Hitzig, the name has been identified with "Ashkenaz" (Genesis 10:3), and that again derived from אֶשֶׁד, "the cord of the testicle," and has, a Sanskrit root, "to destroy," and therefore the name would simply be "eunuch." Over and above the general improbability that is always present in regard to etymologies which imply the word in question to be a hybrid word, there is the improbability that one eunuch would receive a name applicable to the whole class of which he was a member. The name, as it appears in the Septuagint, is, as we have said, totally unconnected with that in the Massoretic text, but both may have sprung from some common source. Thus the French word eveque has not a single letter in common with "bishop," yet both words are derived from ἐπίσκοπος. The changes that a name might undergo in passing from any language, even a cognate one, into Hebrew wine very great; thus Assur-bani-pal became "Asnapper." Lenormant has endeavoured to recover the name in the present case. The process he has followed is the somewhat mechanical one of combining the two names, as if we were to strive to reach Asshur-bani-pal item a combination of "Asnapper" and "Sar-danapalus." He arrives at the name Ash-ben-azur, which is a possible Babylonian name. Professor Fuller has suggested Aba-(i)-istar, "the astronomer of the goddess Ishtar." The main objection to this is that it is drawn solely from the Septuagint Version. If we look at the tendency exhibited by the Hebrew equivalents of Babylonian names, we find that shortening was one that was nearly invariably present, as Asshur-akhi-iddin na became Esarhaddon, and Sin-akhi-irba became Sanherib. The only exception to this shortening process which occurs to us is Brodach for Marduk, and even it is scarcely an exception. Next there is a tendency, which Hebrew shares with other languages, of suiting a foreign word to the genius of the language. Hence we find "Ashpenaz" has such a close resemblance to "Ashkenaz" of Genesis 10:3, and that "Abiesdri" is identical with the form "Abiezer" - the name of the father of Gideon - assumes in the Septuagint. Judging from "Asnapper," the name might even begin with Asshur, only that, as Asshur was the national god of the Ninevites, names which contained the name of that divinity are rare in Babylon. The first element in the word might not impossibly be ablu, "son." The final element seems certainly to have been ezer or utzur. As to the office he tided in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, "the master of eunuchs," the name of the office in the text is Rab-Sarisim, which occurs in a slightly different form in 2 Kings 18:17, along with Rab-Shakeh, as if it were a proper name. From the fact that persons thus mutilated were employed in Eastern courts, the word became equivalent to "officer;" hence we find Petiphar is called saris, or "eunuch;" yet he had a wife. It therefore may be doubted whether Daniel and his companions are to be understood as placed in that condition. The title here given - Rab-Sarisim - becomes Sar-Sarisim in vers. 7 and 10, Sat being the Hebrew equivalent of the more Babylonian Rab. It is also Aramaic. That he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes. It may be doubted at first sight whether these may not be separate classes - a view that seems to have been taken by most of the old translators, or whether the first class, "the children of Israel," does not include the two classes that follow. The rendering part'mim, as "Parthians," adopted by Symmachus and the Peshitta, would make a contrast between "the children of Israel" and "the Parthians." That, however, is utterly unlikely. Were that translation the true one, a strong argument could be advanced for the late origin of Daniel. The fact that the text before Symmachus and the Peshitta translator admitted of that translation shows how far the tendency to modify the text into suitability with the knowledge of the scribe had gone, and therefore how little weight ought to be given to lateness of individual words. According to the LXX. and Theodotion, there is a word awanting in the first clause; the Septuagint translator would supply "nobles" (μεγιστάνων) "from the nobles of Israel." Theodotion renders, "from the sons of the Captivity of Israel." If the sentence ran בני שרי ישראל, one might understand how it could be read בני שבי ישראל; the natural phrase for this is בני גלותי ישראל, but that would not explain the LXX. rendering. The name "Israel" is the covenant name of the whole nation, equally applicable to the southern and to the northern kingdoms. All the more so that the captivity of Judah contained members of three other tribes besides that of Judah, namely, those of Benjamin and Simeon an l Levi. Further, Josiah seems to have extended the bounds of the Davidic kingdom to embrace the remnant of the ten tribes (2 Chronicles 34:6, 9), therefore his sons would claim the same boundaries, and therefore hostages might be taken by Nebuchadnezzar from them to Babylon. And of the king's seed and of the princes. The two "ands" might be rendered "both... and," or "alike ... and." The king's seed means, literally, "the seed of the kingdom," as it is translated by Theodotion. The phrase, "children of the kingdom," is applied by our Lord (Matthew 8:12) to all the Jews, and in Matthew 13:38 to the members of the true Israel - perhaps with a latent reference to the children of the true King thus in captivity to the beggarly elements of this world, compelled to stand as servants in the court of Mammon, of which Nebuchadnezzar may well be the type. The word partemim is one which has caused difficulty; it only occurs here, and twice in Esther (Esther 1:3; Esther 6:9). In these passages it is rendered by the Peshitta as here, Parthouia, "Parthians." It would seem that the Septuagint translator had before him, not partemin, but bahureem, connecting it with yeladeem," children" (youths), the opening word of the succeeding vers,., In Esther the word part°mim is applied to a special class of nobles among the Persians, and certainly was not applied to the princes of Judah. Theodotion does not understand what it means, and so transliterates it φορθομμίν. Symmachus and the Peshitta make it "Parthians;" the Targum on Esther makes the same blunder. The LXX. Version of Esther renders it ἔνδοξοι, as if it were connected with פְאֵר and תום. It certainly has Zend (frathema) and Pehlevi (pardun) congeners, so it may have come over from Aryan sources into the Babylonian. Equally certainly it has disappeared from Aramaic Eastern and Western. If partemim is to be held as part of the original text, it must belong to a period before the Greek domination, as the meaning of the word had disappeared by that time. It might, on the other hand, have been a word in the Babylonian court, or, again, a copyist might have inserted it as a more known word than that originally in the text. This latter, we think, is the probable solution. If the division of the verses had in the Massoretic become deranged, then bahureem would be unintelligible, standing, as it would, at the end of the verse. In Egypt this derangement did not take place, and hence bahureem was retained. Children in whom was no blemish. There is no limit to the age implied in yeled, the word the plural of which is translated "children;" thus to young counsellors who had been brought up with Rehoboam are called yeladeem. As they had been brought up with Rehoboam, they were of the same age with him, yet he was forty-one years old when he ascended the throne. Joseph is called yeled when he was at least seventeen, and Ishmael when he was probably sixteen. Benjamin is called yeled when he was nearly, if not quite, thirty years old; it is said of him immediately before he went down to Egypt, and then he was the father of ten sons. It is used also of new-born infants (Exodus 1:17). When we look at the various qualifications they were to possess - skilful in all wisdom, cunning in knowledge, understanding science - sixteen to eighteen seems the lowest limit we can set. Aben Ezra comes to the conclusion that they were fourteen when they came to Babylon; that, however, even when all allowance is made for the precocity of warm climates, seems too low. On the whole, we may say that Daniel, when he was taken to Babylon, was the same age as Joseph when he went down into Egypt. The Septuagint rendering (νεανίσκους) supports our view. We may note that this command to Ashpenaz was in all likelihood given at Jerusalem. In whom was no blemish, but well-secured. If we may judge of the taste of the Babylonians and Assyrians from the sculptures that have come down to us, they had a high standard of personal appearance - especially fine in appearance are the eunuchs that stand before the king. The word moom, "blemish," is used of the priesthood; presence of a "blemish" excluded from the priesthood (Leviticus 21:17). It is used of Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25); it is equivalent in meaning to μῶμος, which not impossibly was derived from some early form of this word; tovay mar'eh," goodly in appearance," almost identical with our colloquial "good-looking." Skilful in all wisdom. The word "wisdom" has, in general, a somewhat technical meaning in Hebrew, "skill in interpreting riddles and framing proverbs." It became widened in meaning in certain cases, as we see in the description of wisdom in the beginning of Proverbs and Job 28. Yet wider is the sphere given to it in Ecclesiasticus and the Book of Wisdom. The word translated "skilful," maskileem, means, in the first instance, "attending to;" then, the result of this attention, especially when followed by the preposition בְ, "in," The LXX. suits this, "skilled in all wisdom." Theodotion renders, "understanding (συνιέντας) in all wisdom." Professor Bevan would render maskil, "intelligent;" Hitzig adopts Luther's einsichtig in allerlei Wissenschaft, "intelligent in every kind of science," adding, "that is, they would be were they placed in suitable circumstances." He objects to De Wette rendering "experienced," as unsuitable to boys. Cunning in knowledge; literally, knowing knowledge. The distinction is here between the faculty of intelligence and the actual acquirements. It might be rendered "intelligent and well-educated" - a view that is supported by the Septuagint rendering (γραμματικοὺς). Understanding science; "discriminating knowledge," as it is rendered in Theodotion. The Septuagint translator had another text before him; instead of reading mebine madda, he had before him mebinim yod'eem, that is to say, he divided the letters differently, so that he read it along with mebine, and had a yod inserted after it, not as connected, but as separate. The word madda is late, found in Chronicles and Ecclesiastes, and as Aramaic well known; the change in the Septuagint must have been due to a different reading. The fact that madda is late, and was not in the Septuagint text, throws a suspicion on all the late words in Daniel, as all of them may be due to the same modernizing tendency. The phrase, according to the Septuagint reading, may be rendered, "having good powers of discrimination and acquisition." And such as had the ability in them to stand in the king's palace. The word used for "ability" (koh) usually means "physical strength," as of Samson (Judges 16:6), applied to animals as of the unicorn (wild ox) (Job 39:11). Here, however, it refers rather to mental capacity. The idea is that those should be chosen who showed signs of future ability, and therefore afforded a probability that they would be of use in the royal council-chamber. The translator of the Septuagint Version puts a point after ἰσχύοντας, and unites the two following clauses under it. And whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. The LXX. renders, "to teach them letters and the Chaldean dialect." There were three tongues used in Babylon. There was the Aramaic of ordinary business and diplomacy, called in 2 Kings 18:26 "the Syrian language," and in this book (ch. Daniel 2:4) "Syriack." This was commonly understood, as is shown by the fact that tablets have been found inscribed in Assyrian, but having a docquet behind in Aramaic, telling the contents. Next there was the Assyrian, a Shemitic tongue, cognate with Hebrew, though further removed from it than Aramaic is. This is the language of historic and legal documents, much as Norman French was for long the language of our Acts of Parliament, while the people spoke a tongue not far removed from our modern English. The system of writing was cumbrous in the highest degree, the same sign standing for several different words, and the same word represented by several different signs. As a spoken language — if it ever were a spoken tongue — it was cumbrous also. It was eminently a monumental tongue. Lastly, there was Accadian, the sacred tongue, a language belonging to a different class from the Aramaic and Assyrian. In it the great bulk of the magical formulae and ritual directions of Babylon and Nineveh were written. In the huge library of Asshurbanipal, now in the British Museum, a large portion is composed of translations of those Accadian texts. A number of syllabaries have also been found, which enable scholars to investigate this antique tongue. It seems not impossible that Accadian was meant by the learning (סֶפֶר, sepher, "book") and tongue of the Chaldeans. Their learning involved some astronomy, a great deal of astrology, and not a little magic, incantations, interpretations of dreams and omens. We ourselves, though so far removed both geographically and chronologically from them, feel the effects of their ideas, and enjoy some of the results of their knowledge. We cannot tell whether the Babylonians were the earliest to fix the course of the sun, moon, and planets. At all events, they made observations on the basis of these discoveries; and our week, with its Sunday and Monday, conveys to us still the fact that the Babylonians believed the planets to be seven; the planets strictly so called were associated with deities similar in attributes to those associated with them by the Latin and Teutonic peoples, and the same days were sacred to them in Babylonia and Germany. The Chaldeans, כַשְׂדִים, Kasdeem, of the Bible, do not seem to have been originally inhabitants of Babylon. They formed a cluster of clans to the south-west of Babylon, who invaded Babylonia, and occasionally secured the supremacy in the city. The Assyrians had frequent encounters with them, and carried on against them many prolonged wars. The name in the Assyrian monuments is most frequently Kaldu, from which the Greek Ξαλδαῖοι comes. It is doubtful whether there is a form Kassatu to explain the Hebrew term. In the days of Nabo-polassar, the Chaldeans being supreme in Babylonia, all the inhabitants of that province may have been called Chaldeans. Latterly there was a restricted use of the term, due to the great attention paid in Babylonia to astrology. It is doubtful whether this restricted use of the word occurred in the genuine Daniel, from which our canonical Daniel has sprung. Certainly Daniel, and those hostages selected with him, were to be educated so as to become member's of this sacred college of augurs and astrologers. Daniel 1:3The name אשׁפּנז, sounding like the Old Persian Ap, a horse, has not yet received any satisfactory or generally adopted explanation. The man so named was the chief marshal of the court of Nebuchadnezzar. סריסים רב (the word רב used for שׂר, Daniel 1:7, Daniel 1:9, belongs to the later usage of the language, cf. Jeremiah 39:3) means chief commander of the eunuchs, i.e., overseer of the srail, the Kislar Aga, and then in a wider sense minister of the royal palace, chief of all the officers; since סריס frequently, with a departure from its fundamental meaning, designates only a courtier, chamberlain, attendant on the king, as in Genesis 37:36. The meaning of להביא, more definitely determined by the context, is to lead, i.e., into the land of Shinar, to Babylon. In ישׂראל בּני, Israel is the theocratic name of the chosen people, and is not to be explained, as Hitz. does, as meaning that Benjamin and Levi, and many belonging to other tribes, yet formed part of the kingdom of Judah. וּמן ... וּמזּרע, as well of the seed ... as also. פּרתּמים is the Zend. frathema, Sanscr. prathama, i.e., persons of distinction, magnates. ילדים, the object to להביא, designates youths of from fifteen to twenty years of age. Among the Persians the education of boys by the παιδάγωγαι βασίλειοι began, according to Plato (Alcib. i. 37), in their fourteenth year, and according to Xenophon (Cyrop. i. 2), the ἔφηβοι were in their seventeenth year capable of entering into the service of the king. In choosing the young men, the master of the eunuchs was commanded to have regard to bodily perfection and beauty as well as to mental endowments. Freedom from blemish and personal beauty were looked upon as a characteristic of moral and intellectual nobility; cf. Curtius, xvii. 5, 29. מאוּם, blemish, is written with an , as in Job 31:7.
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