Daniel 1:7
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.
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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.Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names - This practice is common in Oriental courts. "The captive youths referred to in the notes on Daniel 1:5, in the Turkish court also receive new names, that is, Mahometan names, their former names being Christian." - "Pict. Bible." It is "possible" that this changing of their names may have been designed to make them forget their country, and their religion, and to lead them more entirely to identify themselves with the people in whose service they were now to be employed, though nothing of this is intimated in the history. Such a change, it is easy to conceive, might do much to make them feel that they were identified with the people among whom they were adopted, and to make them forget the customs and opinions of their own country. It is a circumstance which may give some additional probability to this supposition, that it is quite a common thing now at missionary stations to give new names to the children who are taken into the boarding-schools, and especially the names of the Christian benefactors at whose expense they are supported. Compare the same general character, for this change of names may have been, that the name of the true God constituted a part of their own names, and that thus they were constantly reminded of him and his worship. In the new names given them, the appellation of some of the idols worshipped in Babylon was incorporated, and this might serve as remembrancers of the divinities to whose service it was doubtless the intention to win them.

For he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar - The name Belteshazzar (בלטשׁאצר bêlṭesha'tstsar) is compounded of two words, and means according to Gesenius, "Bel's prince;" that is, he whom Bel favors. "Bel" was the principal divinity worshipped at Babylon (notes, Isaiah 46:1), and this name would, therefore, be likely to impress the youthful Daniel with the idea that he was a favorite of this divinity, and to attract him to his service. It was a flattering distinction that he was one of the favorites of the principal god worshipped in Babylon, and this was not improbably designed to turn his attention from the God whose name had been incorporated in his own. The giving of this name seemed to imply, in the apprehension of Nebuchadnezzar, that the spirit of the gods was in him on whom it was conferred. See Daniel 4:8-9.

And to Hananiah, of Shadrach - The name "Hananiah" (חנניה chănanyâh) means, "whom Jehovah has graciously given," and is the same with Ananias (Greek, Ανανίας Ananias), and would serve to remind its possessor of the name of "Jehovah," and of his mercy. The name Shadrach (שׁדרך shadrak), according to Lorsbach, means "young friend of the king;" according to Bohlen, it means "rejoicing in the way," and this last signification is the one which Gesenius prefers. In either signification it would contribute to a forgetfulness of the interesting significancy of the former name, and tend to obliterate the remembrance of the early training in the service of Jehovah.

And to Mishael, of Meshach - The name "Mishael" (מישׁאל mı̂yshâ'êl) means, "who is what God is?" - from מי mı̂y "who," שׁ sha "what," and אל ēl "God." It would thus be a remembrancer of the greatness of God; of his supremacy over all his creatures, and of his "incomparable" exaltation over the universe. The signification of the name "Meshach" (מישׁך mêyshak) is less known. The Persian word ovicula means a little sheep (Gesenius), but why this name was given we are not informed. Might it have been on account of his beauty, his gentleness, his lamb-like disposition? If so, nothing perhaps would be better fitted to turn away the thoughts from the great God and his service to himself.

And to Azariah, of Abednego - The name "Azaziah" (עזריה ‛ăzaryâh) means, "whom Jehovah helps," from עזר ‛âzar "to help," and יה yâh, the same as "Jah" (a shortened form of Jehovah, יהוה yehovâh), This name, therefore, had a striking significancy, and would be a constant remembrancer of the true God, and of the value of his favor and protection. The name Abed-nego (עבד נגו ‛ăbêd negô) means, "a servant of Nego," or perhaps of "Nebo" - נבו nebô. This word "Nebo," among the Chaldeans, probably denoted the planet Mercury. This planet was worshipped by them, and by the Arabs, as the celestial scribe or writer. See the notes at Isaiah 46:1. The Divine worship paid to this planet by the Chaldeans is attested, says Gesenius, by the many compound proper names of which this name forms a part; as Nebuchadnezzar, Nebushasban, and others mentioned in classic writers; as Nabonedus, Nabonassar, Nabonabus, etc. This change of name, therefore, was designed to denote a consecration to the service of this idol-god, and the change was eminently adapted to make him to whom it was given forget the true God, to whom, in earlier days, he had been devoted. It was only extraordinary grace which could have kept these youths in the paths of their early training, and in the faithful service of that God to whom they had been early consecrated, amidst the temptations by which they were now surrounded in a foreign land, and the influences which were employed to alienate them from the God of their fathers.

7. gave names—designed to mark their new relation, that so they might forget their former religion and country (Ge 41:45). But as in Joseph's case (whom Pharaoh called Zaphnath-paaneah), so in Daniel's, the name indicative of his relation to a heathen court ("Belteshazzar," that is, "Bel's prince"), however flattering to him, is not the one retained by Scripture, but the name marking his relation to God ("Daniel," God my Judge, the theme of his prophecies being God's judgment on the heathen world powers).

Hananiah—that is, "whom Jehovah hath favored."

Shadrach—from Rak, in Babylonian, "the King," that is, "the Sun"; the same root as in Abrech (Ge 41:43, Margin), "Inspired or illumined by the Sun-god."

Mishael—that is, "who is what God is?" Who is comparable to God?

Meshach—The Babylonians retained the first syllable of Mishael, the Hebrew name; but for El, that is, God, substituted Shak, the Babylonian goddess, called Sheshach (Jer 25:26; 51:41), answering to the Earth, or else Venus, the goddess of love and mirth; it was during her feast that Cyrus took Babylon.

Azariah—that is, "whom Jehovah helps."

Abed-nego—that is, "servant of the shining fire." Thus, instead of to Jehovah, these His servants were dedicated by the heathen to their four leading gods [Herodotus, Clio]; Bel, the Chief-god, the Sun-god, Earth-god, and Fire-god. To the last the three youths were consigned when refusing to worship the golden image (Da 3:12). The Chaldee version translates "Lucifer," in Isa 14:12, Nogea, the same as Nego. The names thus at the outset are significant of the seeming triumph, but sure downfall, of the heathen powers before Jehovah and His people.

Names; that is, other names: this was done by the subtle instigation of Satan, that they might renounce their names received in circumcision, by assuming names imposed relating to the idol gods, being a profanation and a further degree of their apostacy; for Daniel had

the name of Belteshazzar, or Baltasar, from the great Babylonian idol Baal or Bel, &c. This was by the king’s command, and herein he put forth an act of his sovereignty. Thus Adam, Genesis 2:19,20. Thus Pharaoh did, Genesis 41:45; he gave

Joseph the name of Zaphnath-paaneah. And Pharaohnechoh changed the name of

Eliakim, Josiah’s son, to Jehoiakim, 2 Kings 23:34. And the king of Babylon turned the name of

Mattaniah to Zedekiah, 2 Kings 24:17. The Lord changed the name of

Sarai to Sarah, of

Abram to Abraham, of

Jacob to Israel. Thus the Lord changed

Simon’s name to Cephas or Peter, Mark 3:16.

Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names,.... Other names, Chaldee names, according to the names of the gods of that country, for honour and glory, as Saadiah observes; which was done either to make them more acceptable to the court and courtiers of the king of Babylon; and to show that they were his servants, and naturalized subjects; and chiefly to cause them to forget the names their fathers gave them, and out of hatred to them, having all of them in them the names of the true God, El or Jah; and, most of all, that they might forget the God of their fathers, whose names they bore. This prince of the eunuchs seems to be the same with the master of the eunuchs, Ashpenaz, before mentioned, so Jacchiades; but some take him to be another person: what he did in changing the names of these four Hebrew youths was not his own idea and by his own authority, but by the order of the king; Daniel 5:12,

for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; which signifies "Bel hath hid and treasured"; or Bel's treasurer, or the keeper of his treasures; see Daniel 1:2. Bel was the chief idol of the Chaldeans, Isaiah 46:1, and Daniel was named according to him, as Nebuchadnezzar himself says, Daniel 4:8 and differs but in one letter from the name of a successor of his, Belshazzar, Daniel 5:1, hence Daniel is thought by Broughton, and others, to be the Belesis of Diolorus Siculus: or it may be he had this name given him from "beltis" or "baaltis" (u), a queen and goddess of the Babylonians, and may be compounded of that and "azer":

and to Hananiah of Shadrach; which some interpret a "tender pap", or "breast": others, the "king's messenger", or "the messenger the sun". The word "rach" signifies a "king" with the Chaldeans, as it did with the Egyptians, as may be observed in the word "abrec", the king's father, in Genesis 41:43 and is used by them of the sun, the prince of planets, whom they worshipped: others, "the inspiration of the sun", their idol. Hillerus (w) explains it of fire, the object of their adoration:

and to Mishael of Meshach; or; "of Shach", which was a name of a god or goddess of the Chaldeans, they worshipped; at the celebration of whose feast they were when Babylon was taken by Cyrus:

and to Azariah of Abednego; or "a servant, or worshipper of Nego". The word signifies "shining brightness": which some understand of fire worshipped by them; others of the bright planet Venus; and others of Lucifer, or the morning star. Saadiah takes it to be the same with Nebo, by a change of a letter, which was a god of the Chaldeans; see Isaiah 46:1.

(u) Vid Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. p 38. &. l. 9. c. 41. p. 456. (w) Onomast. Sacr. p. 924.

Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs {l} 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.

(l) That they might altogether forget their religion: for the Jews gave their children names which might always put them in remembrance of some point of religion. Therefore this was a great temptation and a sign of servitude, which they were not able to resist.

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.

Verse 7. - 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 Abed-nego. The only thing to be noted in regard to the versions is that, with the exception of the Peshitta, all of them identify the name of Daniel with that of the last King of Babylon. Both are called Baltasar or Baltassar in the Vulgate, the LXX., and Theodotion. The difference made in the Peshitta is not the same as that in the Hebrew; the prophet is called Beletshazzar, and the king Belit-shazzar. This would indicate something wrong. The Greek versions render Abed-nego Ἀβδεναγώ, which also the Vulgate has. This habit of changing the names of those who entered their service prevailed among Eastern potentates. Joseph became Zaph-nath-paaneah (Genesis 41:45). Not only did those about the court receive new names, but, not infrequently, subject monarchs, as token of subjection, were newly named, as Jehoiakim, who had formerly been Eliakim. Professor Fuller mentions the case of the Egyptian monarch Psammetik II., whose name as subject of Asshur-bani-pal was Nabo-sezib-ani. Not only so, but monarchs of their own will changed their names with changed circumstances; thus Pal in Babylon is Tiglath-pileser in Nineveh. Still in modern times this is continued in the head of Roman Catholic Christendom, who has for the last twelve centuries always assumed another than his original name on ascending the papalthrone. With members of a monarch's court this is easily intelligible. The desire was to have names of good omen; a foreign name might either be meaningless or suggest anything but thoughts full of good omen. In considering these names, there are certain preliminary facts we must bear in mind. In the first place, there is a great probability that all the names had a Divine element in them, that is, contained as an element the name of a Babylonian god. The great mass of the names of Baby-Ionian and Assyrian officials had this. Next, it is by no means improbable that, at the hands of the Jewish scribes, the names have sustained some considerable change, more especially as regards the Divine element. The Jewish scribe had few scruples as to altering a name when there was anything in it to hurt his sensibilities. It is horrible to him that Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses the great lawgiver, should be the originator of the false temple at Dan, and so he inserts a nun, and changes Moshe, "Moses," into "Manasseh." The scribe that copied out 2 Samuel, coming to the name of Jerubbaal, cannot endure to chronicle the fact that a judge in Israel ever bore the name of the abomination of the Zidonians as part of his name, and altered it to Jerubesheth. So we have in the same book Ishbosheth for Ethbaal, and Mephibosheth for Meribbaal. With a foreign potentate it is different; but in the case of a Jew there always was a tendency to blink such an awkward fact as bearing a name with heathen elements, by a slight change. The name given to Daniel is, in the Massoretic text, Belteshazzar. From the fact that in the Septuagint, Theodotion, and the Vulgate, we have the king Belshazzar and Daniel, as Babylonian magician, called by the same name," Baltasar," and when in the Peshitta, the difference is very slight, and not always maintained, we, for our part, are strongly inclined to believe both names to have been the same. Professor Bevan ('The Book of Daniel,' 40) is quite sure that the author did not understand the meaning of the name given to Daniel. He (Professor Bevan) derives the name from Balat-zu-utzur, "Protect thou his life." Professor Fuller, with as great plausibility, makes it Bilat-sarra-utzur, "Beltis protects the crown." If that be the true derivation, then Nebuchadnezzar could quite correctly say that he was called after the name of his god. Still more accurate would this statement be if the name were Belshazzar. But an uneasy suspicion crosses our mind. Does the author of Daniel ever attribute to Nebuchadnezzar the words on which Professor Bevan grounds his charge? The words are not in the Septuagint. Thus Professor Bevan - never admitting the possibility of the name Belteshazzar having been modified from something else, although the evidence of the versions points most distinctly to that, and although he candidly admits it to have taken place in regard to Abed-nego - assumes an etymology for it, as if it were the only possible one, which it is not; and on the ground of this etymology, and on the assumption that certain words were in the original text of Daniel, which are yet not in the Septuagint, he concludes that the author of Daniel did not know the meaning of the name he had given to his hero. Surely this is special pleading. If there has been any tampering with the name or modification of it, then Professor Bevan's assumption falls to the ground, and his argument with it; but there seems every probability that there has been such modification, and the effect of such modification would be to deface the name of the heathen divinity in the name if there were such. Further, if Professor Fuller's etymology may be maintained, again Professor Bevan's assumption falls to the ground. These two arguments do not conflict. A Jewish scribe, ignorant of ancient Assyrian, might easily introduce a modification which, despite his intention, did not remove all heathen divinity from the name, only changed the divinity. If the original text of Daniel did not contain the phrase in the fourth chapter, "according to the name of my god," then again Professor Bevan's assumption is proved groundless, and his argument without value. The phrase in question is not in the Septuagint, and therefore it is, to say the least, suspicious. It has no such intimate connection with the context as to show it part of the text; it is just such a phrase as would be put on the margin as a gloss, and get into the text by blunder of a copyist. It may be observed that Professor Bevan merely follows Schrader, alike in his derivation and deduction; but he, not Schrader, had before him continually the Septuagint version of Daniel, and he, not Schrader, is commentator on Daniel. And to Hananiah of Shadrach. This name is explained by Dr. Delitzsch as being a modified transliteration of Shudur-aku, "the command of Aku" (the moon-deity). With this Schrader agrees. There is always the possibility of the name having undergone a change. On the other hand, as the name of the deity, Aku, does not appear in Scripture, the Puritanic scribe might be unaware of its presence here. And to Mishael of Meshach. This name has caused great difficulty; it is consonantally identical with מֶשֶׁך, "Hesheeh," the name of one of the sons of Japhet. Dr. Delitzsch would render it Me-sa-aku, "Who is as Aku." Schrader's objections to this are, that in the first place the Babylonian form would be Mamm-ki-Aku. And next, that there would not likely be a simple translation of the Hebrew name into Assyrian, but rather the giving a new name altogether. This second objection is valueless, for Pharaoh-Necho did not wholly change the name of Eliakim when he set him on the throne; since Jehovah may be regarded as the equivalent of El. The fact that "Meshach" is so like "Mcshech" points to intentional modification, and, therefore, to the presence in the name of the designation of a Babylonian god likely to be known to the Jews, such as Merodach, whose name was known to the Jews by its occurrence in the names Evil-Merodach and Merodach-Baladan, and actually as a divinity in Jeremiah 50:2. Such is Lenormant's hypothesis ('La Divination,' p. 178). which would render it Misa-Mero-dash, "Who is as Merodach" - a suggestion certainly open to Schrader's first objection. And to Azariah of Abed-nego. It has long been recognized that this name is a modification of Abed-Nebo. This identification is rendered all the more probable, that in New Hebrew and Aramaic Naga meant the planet "Venus," that is, "Nebo" The consonants are correct for this, but the vocalization is purposely wrong, in order to avoid the heathen name. If the author of Daniel was an obscure Jew, living in Palestine during the days of Epiphanes, whoa the influence of Babylon had disappeared, and its language had ceased to be studied, is it not strange that he should devise names which so accurately represent those that were in Babylon? One has only to read the Book of Judith, in all likelihood the product of the Epiphanes period (Konig, 'Einlcitung,' 480), to see the wild work that Palestinian Jews of that time made of Babylonian names. Daniel 1:7Daniel and his three friends were among the young men who were carried to Babylon. They were of the sons of Judah, i.e., of the tribe of Judah. From this it follows that the other youths of noble descent who had been carried away along with them belonged to other tribes. The name of none of these is recorded. The names only of Daniel and his three companions belonging to the same tribe are mentioned, because the history recorded in this book specially brings them under our notice. As the future servants of the Chaldean king, they received as a sign of their relation to him other names, as the kings Eliakim and Mattaniah had their names changed (2 Kings 23:34; 2 Kings 24:17) by Necho and Nebuchadnezzar when they made them their vassals. But while these kings had only their paternal names changed for other Israelitish names which were given to them by their conquerors, Daniel and his friends received genuine heathen names in exchange for their own significant names, which were associated with that of the true God. The names given to them were formed partly from the names of Babylonish idols, in order that thereby they might become wholly naturalized, and become estranged at once from the religion and the country of their fathers.

(Note: "The design of the king was to lead these youths to adopt the customs of the Chaldeans, that they might have nothing in common with the chosen people." - Calvin.)

Daniel, i.e., God will judge, received the name Belteshazzar, formed from Bel, the name of the chief god of the Babylonians. Its meaning has not yet been determined. Hananiah, i.e., the Lord is gracious, received the name Shadrach, the origin of which is wholly unknown; Mishael, i.e., who is what the Lord is, was called Meshach, a name yet undeciphered; and Azariah, i.e., the Lord helps, had his name changed into Abednego, i.e., slave, servant of Nego or Nebo, the name of the second god of the Babylonians (Isaiah 46:1), the בbeing changed by the influence of בin עבד into ג (i.e., Nego instead of Nebo).

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