I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Pleasant bread—i.e., delicate food. Abstaining from this as well as from the use of oil (comp. 2Samuel 12:20; Amos 6:6) were the outward signs of Daniel’s grief.
Neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth - That is, he lived on bread or vegetables. It is not to be inferred from this that Daniel ordinarily made use of wine, for it would seem from Daniel 1:that that was not his custom. What would appear from this passage would be, that he practiced on this occasion the most rigid abstinence.
Neither did I anoint myself - The use of unguents was common in the East (see the notes at Matthew 6:17), and Daniel here says that he abstained during these three weeks from what he ordinarily observed as promoting his personal comfort. He gave himself up to a course of life which would be expressive of deep grief. Nature prompts to this when the mind is overwhelmed with sorrow. Not only do we become indifferent to our food, but it requires an effort not to be indifferent to our dress, and to our personal appearance.
anoint—The Persians largely used unguents.
neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth; not delicate meat, as of fish, fowl, deer, and the like, as Saadiah observes; but contented himself with meaner fare; nor did he drink generous wine, as he had used to do, living in a king's court, and which his old age made necessary for him, since he could come at it; but he abstained from it, and other lawful pleasures of nature, the more to give himself up to acts of devotion and contemplation:
neither did I anoint myself at all, until three whole weeks were fulfilled; which was wont to be frequently done by the Jews, especially at feasts; and by the Persians every day, among whom he now was; but this he refrained from, as was usual in times of fasting and humiliation; see Matthew 6:17.I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. pleasant bread] lit. bread of desirablenesses (Daniel 9:23). Daniel did not fast absolutely; he only abstained from ‘pleasant’ food. Flesh and wine would, in the East, not be indulged in except at a festivity, or on other special occasions (e.g. Genesis 27:25, 1 Samuel 25:11 [where LXX. followed by many moderns, has wine for water]; Isaiah 22:13).
neither did I anoint myself at all] The practice of anointing the body with oil or other unguents was common among the Jews, as among other ancient nations: it soothed and refreshed the skin, and was a protection against heat. It was customary after washing, especially in anticipation of a visit, a feast, &c. (Ruth 3:3); and so to be anointed was a mark of contentment and joy (Isaiah 61:3, Ecclesiastes 9:8; cf. Matthew 6:17), while, conversely, during mourning it was usual not to anoint oneself (2 Samuel 14:2; cf. 2 Samuel 12:20).
three whole weeks] The same expression which in Daniel 10:2 is rendered full weeks.Verse 3. - I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. The versions are in perfect agreement with the Massoretic text. Pleasant bread; "bread of desires" is the rendering of the Septuagint and of Theodotion; the word is the same in Hebrew and Greek as that applied to Daniel. Neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth. This shows that the practice adopted by Daniel and his fellows during their training was not regarded by Daniel, at least as incumbent on him after he could regulate his own affairs. His ordinary habit was to eat flesh and to drink wine; but during these weeks of fast, he denied himself these dainties. Neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. The pleasure of anointing the body with oil was highly esteemed among the ancients. It is impossible to fail to recognize, in this passage, the origin of the Essenian discipline. The Essenes abstained, from flesh, from wine, and from anointing themselves. Daniel thus abstained, as a sign of sorrow for the sin of his people; they made this fast a perpetual discipline. They waited for the salvation of Israel, and endeavoured, by fasting, to hasten the coming of the Lord. The converse of this, that Daniel's fast is derived from the Essene discipline, is not to be thought cf. It is a sign of a later development, when such practices of self-denial, from being the incidents of a life which occur on special occasions, become its rule. As early as B.C. 106 an Essene is mentioned teaching in the temple, and mentioned with no evidence that his sect was a thing of recent origin. The limits are narrow between the critical date of Daniel and this date that within them so prominent a sect as the Essenes should spring up. 2 Samuel 11:2. The addition at Babylon does not indicate that the king was then living at a distance from Babylon, as Berth., v. Leng., Maur., and others imagine, but is altogether suitable to the matter, because Nebuchadnezzar certainly had palaces outside of Babylon, but it is made with special reference to the language of the king which follows regarding the greatness of Babylon. ענה means here not simply to begin to speak, but properly to answer, and suggests to us a foregoing colloquy of the king with himself in his own mind. Whether one may conclude from that, in connection with the statement of time, after twelve months, that Nebuchadnezzar, exactly one year after he had received the important dream, was actively engaging himself regarding that dream, must remain undetermined, and can be of no use to a psychological explanation of the occurrence of the dream. The thoughts which Nebuchadnezzar expresses in v. 26 (Daniel 4:29) are not favourable to such a supposition. Had the king remembered that dream and its interpretation, he would scarcely have spoken so proudly of his splendid city which he had built as he does in v. 27 (Daniel 4:30).
When he surveyed the great and magnificent city from the top of his palace, "pride overcame him," so that he dedicated the building of this great city as the house of his kingdom to the might of his power and the honour of his majesty. From the addition רבּתא it does not follow that this predicate was a standing Epitheton ornans of Babylon, as with חמת , Amos 6:2, and other towns of Asia; for although Pausanias and Strabo call Babylon μεγάλη and μεγίστη πόλις, yet it bears this designation as a surname in no ancient author. But in Revelation 14:8 this predicate, quoted from the passage before us, is given to Babylon, and in the mouth of Nebuchadnezzar it quite corresponds to the self-praise of his great might by which he had built Babylon as the residence of a great king. בּנה designates, as בּנה more frequently, not the building or founding of a city, for the founding of Babylon took place in the earliest times after the Flood (Genesis 11), and was dedicated to the god Belus, or the mythic Semiramis, i.e., in the pre-historic time; but בּנה means the building up, the enlargement, the adorning of the city מלכוּ לבּית, for the house of the kingdom, i.e., for a royal residence; cf. The related expression ממלכה בּית, Amos 7:13. בּית stands in this connection neither for town nor for היכל (Daniel 4:29), but has the meaning dwelling-place. The royalty of the Babylonian kingdom has its dwelling-place, its seat, in Babylon, the capital of the kingdom.
With reference to the great buildings of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, vide the statements of Berosus in Josephi Ant. x. 11, 1, and con. Ap. i. 19, and of Abydenus in Eusebii praepar. evang. ix. 41, and Chron. i. p. 59; also the delineation of these buildings in Duncker's Gesch. des Alterth. i. p. 854ff. The presumption of this language appears in the words, "by the strength of my might, and for the splendour (honour) of my majesty." Thus Nebuchadnezzar describes himself as the creator of his kingdom and of its glory, while the building up of his capital as a residence bearing witness to his glory and his might pointed at the same time to the duration of his dynasty. This proud utterance is immediately followed by his humiliation by the omnipotent God. A voice fell from heaven. נפל as in Isaiah 9:7, of the sudden coming of a divine revelation. אמרין for the passive, as Daniel 3:4. The perf. עדּת denotes the matter as finished. At the moment when Nebuchadnezzar heard in his soul the voice from heaven, the prophecy begins to be fulfilled, the king becomes deranged, and is deprived of his royalty.
The fulfilling of the dream.
Nebuchadnezzar narrates the fulfilment of the dream altogether objectively, so that he speaks of himself in the third person. Berth., Hitz., and others find here that the author falls out of the role of the king into the narrative tone, and thus betrays the fact that some other than the king framed the edict. But this conclusion is opposed by the fact that Nebuchadnezzar from v. 31 speaks of his recovery again in the first person. Thus it is beyond doubt that the change of person has its reason in the matter itself. Certainly it could not be in this that Nebuchadnezzar thought it unbecoming to speak in his own person of his madness; for if he had had so tender a regard for his own person, he would not have published the whole occurrence in a manifesto addressed to his subjects. But the reason of his speaking of his madness in the third person, as if some other one were narrating it, lies simply in this, that in that condition he was not Ich equals Ego (Kliefoth). With the return of the Ich, I, on the recovery from his madness, Nebuchadnezzar begins again to narrate in the first person (v. 31 34).
Here the contents of the prophecy, v. 22 (v. 25), are repeated, and then in v. 30 (v. 33) it is stated that the word regarding Nebuchadnezzar immediately began to be fulfilled. On שׁעתא בהּ, cf. Daniel 3:6. ספת, from סוּף, to go to an end. The prophecy goes to an end when it is realized, is fulfilled. The fulfilling is related in the words of the prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar is driven from among men, viz., by his madness, in which he fled from intercourse with men, and lived under the open air of heaven as a beast among the beasts, eating grass like the cattle; and his person was so neglected, that his hair became like the eagles' fathers and his nails like birds' claws. כּנשׁרין and כּצפּרין are abbreviated comparisons; vide under Daniel 4:16. That this condition was a peculiar appearance of the madness is expressly mentioned in v. 31 (Daniel 4:34), where the recovery is designated as the restoration of his understanding.
This malady, in which men regard themselves as beasts and imitate their manner of life, is called insania zoanthropica, or, in the case of those who think themselves wolves, lycanthropia. The condition is described in a manner true to nature. Even "as to the eating of grass," as G. Rsch, in the Deutsch. Morgenl. Zeitschr. xv. p. 521, remarks, "there is nothing to perplex or that needs to be explained. It is a circumstance that has occurred in recent times, as e.g., in the case of a woman in the Wrttemberg asylum for the insane." Historical documents regarding this form of madness have been collected by Trusen in his Sitten, Gebr. u. Krank. der alten Hebrer, p. 205f., 2nd ed., and by Friedreich in Zur Bibel, i. p. 308f.
(Note: Regarding the statement, "his hair grew as the feathers of an eagle," etc., Friedr. remarks, p. 316, that, besides the neglect of the external appearance, there is also to be observed the circumstance that sometimes in psychical maladies the nails assume a peculiarly monstrous luxuriance with deformity. Besides, his remaining for a long time in the open air is to be considered, "for it is an actual experience that the hair, the more it is exposed to the influences of the rough weather and to the sun's rays, the more does it grow in hardness, and thus becomes like unto the feathers of an eagle.")
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