Daniel 2:49
Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
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(49) Over the affairs.—Compare Nehemiah 2:16; Esther 3:9. These holy children, it appears from this verse, were satraps, under Daniel’s supervision.

Gate of the king.—Compare Esther 3:2, &c. Daniel was of higher rank than his three friends, and was therefore admitted into the inner part of the palace.

Daniel 2:49. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, &c. — He used his interest for his friends, as became a good man, and procured places in the government for them, that they might be assisting to him in his office, and sharers in his honour, by whose intercessions, united with his own, so important a secret had been revealed to him: such a grateful sense had he even of that service! This preferring of them would not only be a great help to Daniel in his place and business, but would afford them many and great opportunities of being useful to their brethren in captivity. But Daniel sat in the gate of the king — Was a constant attendant at the king’s court: and as the expression may probably signify, was a kind of chief justice, hearing and determining such causes as were brought before him, and administering justice to the people.

2:46-49 It is our business to direct attention to the Lord, as the Author and Giver of every good gift. Many have thoughts of the Divine power and majesty, who do not think of serving God themselves. But all should strive, that God may be glorified, and the best interests of mankind furthered.Then Daniel requested of the king ... - In his own remarkable prosperity, and in the extraordinary honors conferred on him, he did not forget the companions of his humbler days. They were his countrymen; they had been captives with him; they had been selected with a view to stand with him before the king Daniel 1:3-4; they had shared with him in his rules of abstinence Daniel 1:11-17; they had all passed an honorable examination before the king Daniel 1:18-19; they had united with him in supplication to God that he would disclose the meaning of the vision Daniel 2:17-18; and now it was proper that they should be remembered by him who had been so signally honored.

Over the affairs of the province of Babylon - In what particular departments of business they were employed is not mentioned; but it would seem that all that especially pertained to this province was entrusted to them. Daniel had the general superintendence, but the subordinate duties growing out of the office were entrusted to them. The fact that the king granted the request shows the influence that Daniel had at the court. The reasons which influenced the king in granting the request may have been, not only the favor with which he regarded Daniel, but the fact that the duties of the office conferred on him now were such as to require assistance, and the remembrance of the virtues ot these youths when they stood before him.

But Daniel sat in the gate of the king - The post of chief honor and dignity as a counselor of the king. The "gate" of a city in the East, being a chief place of concourse, was the place where courts were held, and public business was usually transacted. See the notes at Job 29:7. To say, therefore, that he "sat in the gate of the king," is merely to say that he occupied a place with the chief counselors and dignitaries of the realm. The phrase "Sublime Porte," that is, "the Sublime Gate," is still employed at Constantinople to denote the government of the sultan, for, in the earlier days of Ottoman rule, the reigning sovereign, as is still the case in some parts of the East, held courts of justice and levees at the entrance of his residence. See "Harper's Magazine," vol. iv. p. 333. The office of Daniel was, perhaps, not far different from that of the grand vizier of the Turkish government. See Murray's "Ency. Geog." vol. ii. p. 202.


Among the lessons of practical value suggested by this chapter, we may notice the following:

(1) We have an instance Daniel 2:1-3 of the methods which were resorted to in early periods of the world to ascertain what the future would be. This great monarch relied on a dream which greatly disturbed him, and on the power which he supposed was entrusted to men to interpret dreams. In common with the prevailing spirit of his times, and of all ancient times (notes, Daniel 2:1), he believed that dreams might be regarded as prognostics of future events; that they were under Divine direction; and that all that was necessary to make them safe guides in reference to what is to occur, was that they should be properly interpreted. In common, too, with all the people of ancient times, and with most of modern times, the king here referred to had an earnest desire to look into the future. There has been no desire in the human bosom stronger than this. We are so made that we wish to lift the mysterious veil which shrouds the future; to penetrate the deep darkness which rests on the unseen world.

Our great interests are there. The past is fixed, and cannot now affect us, except by the consequences of what we have done, and by teaching us lessons of value derived from our own observation, and that of others. But the future is not yet fixed. Man, so anxious to know what this is to be, finds himself in respect to it peculiarly unendowed. In relation to the past, he is endowed with the faculty of "memory," but with nothing corresponding to this pertaining to "the future." He can treasure up what has occurred, but he cannot in like manner make the future pass before his mind, that he may become wise by knowing what will take place in far distant times. There can be no doubt that God could have endowed the mind with one faculty as well as the other - for he has it himself - but there were obvious reasons why it should not be done. Destitute, then, as man was of this power, one great object of human inquiry has been to see whether the deficiency could be supplied, and whether something might not be found which would be to the future substantially what the memory is to the past. The efforts and results on this subject - one of which we have in the chapter before us - constitute one of the most instructive chapters of the history of our race, and show how effectually God has bounded the limits of human investigation in this respect. Among those methods of attempting to penetrate the future, and of laying open its deep mysteries, may be noticed the following:

(a) Astrology. It was supposed that the stars might exert an influence over the fates of men, and that by observing their positions, conjunctions, and oppositions, it might be ascertained what would be the destiny of individuals and nations. The belief of this has manifested itself more or less in every age; and in such instances as in the word "lunacy," and in the common apprehensions about the influence of the moon on health and on vegetation, may be still seen traces of that belief. Even Lord Bacon held that "astrology was a science not to be "rejected," but reformed;" and in the early periods of the world it was a "fair" subject of investigation whether the heavenly bodies actually exerted such an influence, and whether, if it were so, it was possible to ascertain the laws by which this was done. This was the so-called science of astrology.

(b) Necromancy. The belief of this also prevailed in nearly all ancient nations, and we find frequent reference to it in the Scriptures. This consisted in the belief that the dead must be acquainted with the world where they now dwell, so dark to the living, and that it might be possible to make a covenant or compact with them, by which they would be induced to disclose what they knew. It was extensively, if not universally, believed that they re-appeared to men, and that it was not an uncommon occurrence for them to leave their abodes, and to visit the earth again. It was, therefore, not an unnatural and not an unfair subject of inquiry, whether they would not disclose to the more favored among mortals what they knew of the secrets of the invisible world, and what they knew of events which were to come. Compare the notes at Isaiah 8:19.

(c) The arts of divination. These were founded mainly on the investigations of science. It was at first a fair question whether, amidst the wonders which science was unfolding to the view, it might not contribute to lift the veil from the future, and reveal what was yet to come. It took long to ascertain what were the legitimate aims of science, and what might be hoped for from it. Hence, it was directed to the inquiry whether some substance might not be found which would transmute all things to gold; whether some elixir might not be discovered which would arrest all disease, and give immortality to man; and whether science would not disclose some means by which the future could be penetrated, and the mysteries of the invisible world be laid open to the view. It required centuries of investigation, a thousand failures, and the results of long and patient thought, to ascertain what were the true objects of science, and to convince the world that it was not its legitimate purpose to reveal the future to man.

(d) Pagan oracles. It was an early inquiry whether God would not, in some way, lift the veil from the future and disclose its secrets to man. The belief that this would be done seems to be natural to the mind of man; and in all ages, and in all countries, he has supposed that; the future would be thus disclosed. Hence, among the pagan, certain persons claimed to be divinely inspired; hence, such shrines as that at Delphi became celebrated; hence, ambiguous responses were uttered, so expressed as to support the credit of the oracle, whatever might be the result; hence, men were appointed to observe the flights of birds, to inspect the entrails of animals offered in sacrifice, to interpret any unusual phenomena in the clouds, to mark the direction of meteors, and, in general, to examine any unusual appearances in the heavens or the earth, which would seem to furnish any clew by which the future might be known. Much of all this undoubtedly became mere imposture, and justified the remark of Cicero, that he wondered that one augur could meet another without laughing; but there can be no doubt that by many these inquiries were honestly pursued, and that at first all this seemed to be a legitimate subject of inquiry. What forbade man to pursue it? And who could tell but that in some such ways the secrets of the mysterious future could be found out? It demanded long and patient inquiry and observation to show that this could not be so, and that whatever might be indicated by any of these things, it was never designed that they should be the means by which man could be made acquainted with the mysteries of the invisible world.

(e) Dreams. We have seen (notes, Daniel 2:1) that it was an early article of belief that through the medium of dreams the Divine will might be made known, and the secrets of the future disclosed. The "theory" on this subject seems to have been, that during sleep the ordinary laws of the mind are suspended; that the soul is abstracted from the visible world; that the thoughts which it has then must be originated by higher beings; and that in this state it has converse with an invisible world, and may be permitted to see much of what is yet to occur. Compare Intro. to Isaiah, Section VII. (2).

(f) Visions. Men supposed that there might be representations made to certain favored persons respecting the future, their senses being closed to surrounding objects, and that while in an ecstasy, or trance, the mind might have a view of future events. Such were the visions of Balaam; such, in a remarkable manner, were the visions of the true prophets; and so deeply was the conviction that this "might" occur engrafted in the human mind, that the belief of it seems to have had a place among the pagan nations. Compare Introduction to Isaiah, Section 7. (4).

Such were some of the ways by which it was supposed that the future might be penetrated by man, and its secrets disclosed. By allowing man to make trial of these methods, and to pursue them through a period of several thousand years, until he himself saw that they were fruitless, God was preparing the race to feel the necessity of direct communications from himself, and to welcome the true reve lations which he would make respecting things to come.


49. Daniel requested—Contrast this honorable remembrance of his humble friends in his elevation with the spirit of the children of the world in the chief butler's case (Ge 40:23; Ec 9:15, 16; Am 6:6).

in the gate—the place of holding courts of justice and levees in the East (Es 2:19; Job 29:7). So "the Sublime Porte," or "Gate," denotes the sultan's government, his counsels being formerly held in the entrance of his palace. Daniel was a chief counsellor of the king, and president over the governors of the different orders into which the Magi were divided.

He substituted them as lieutenants for the king’s service, under Daniel, which, as the curious observe, was chiefly about agriculture, and gathering revenues and provisions for the court; but Daniel was as privy counsellor and lord chamberlain, about arduous affairs of the king and kingdom, sitting sometimes in judgment, and also admitting and conducting persons and causes to the king, as there was need, to whom there was difficult access, according to the magnificence and majesty of the kings of the East. Thus Daniel sat in the king’s gate, to be near and ready for the king’s chiefest business; and it notes honour, also high favour; but especially we must look upon Daniel’s promotion to be for the service and protection of his brethren in their present state of captivity, as Mordecai was, which shows that God doth remember his people in their low estate, and doth not leave himself without witness to them, in raising up nursing-fathers for them.

Then Daniel requested of the king,.... Being in his favour, he improved it to the advantage of his friends, whom he did not forget in his elevated state; but made suit to the king for them to be put into places of trust and honour, which the king listened to:

and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon; that is, under Daniel, who was made ruler over it; these were deputies under him, appointed to take care of some affairs, which would have been too troublesome to him, and would have took up too much of his time from court; where he chose to be, to improve his interest on behalf of the church of God. De Dieu thinks, from the use of the word in Chaldee, and from what answers to it in the Arabic language, that it was agriculture, the fruits of the field, and the revenues arising from thence, which these men had the care of: this Daniel got for them; that as they had assisted him in their prayers to God, to obtain the dream, and the interpretation of it, so they might share with him in his honours and profits he had on the account thereof; and probably he might suggest this to Nebuchadnezzar, which the more easily engaged him to grant the request:

but Daniel sat in the gate of the king; either as judge there, or to introduce persons into the king's presence: or it may be rendered, "in the king's court" (t); he was chief man at court, and always resided there; he was prime minister and privy counsellor: it was usual with the eastern nations to call their court a "port", as the Turks do at this day; the Ottoman court is called "the Port".

(t) "in aula regis", Grotius.

Then Daniel {e} requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the {f} gate of the king.

(e) He did not do this for their personal profit, but that the whole Church, which was then there in affliction, might have some release and ease by this benefit.

(f) Meaning that either he was a judge, or that he had the whole authority, so than no one could be admitted to the king's presence but by him.

49. At Daniel’s request, his three companions are transferred from the ranks of those who ‘stood before the king’ (Daniel 1:19) to positions of authority over the ‘business of the province of Babylon,’—i.e., probably, to act as deputies or assistants to Daniel himself. Daniel’s motive in making this request may have been either simply the promotion of his three friends, or (Hitz., Keil, Meinh.) that he himself might be relieved of duties necessitating his absence from Nebuchadnezzar’s court.

but Daniel was in the gate of the king] at the main entrance to the palace; fig. for, he remained at court (Sept. ἐν τῇ βασιλικῇ αὐλῇ). Cf. Esther 2:19; Esther 2:21, where it is said that Mordecai ‘sat in the king’s gate’ (cf. Daniel 3:2-3, Daniel 4:2; Daniel 4:6, Daniel 5:9; Daniel 5:13, Daniel 6:10; Daniel 6:12); and Xen. Cyrop. viii. i. 6 (cf. Hdt. iii. 120), where this is said to have been the usual custom with the officials of the Persian court. The verse is apparently written in view of chap. 3 (see Daniel 2:3 end, 12).

Additional Note on ‘Excellent’ and ‘Excellency’

The following synopsis of the occurrences of these words in A.V., R.V., and in the P.B. Version of the Psalms, may illustrate and support what is said above with regard to their meaning in these versions.

Excellency stands for

יֶתֶר superiority: A.V., R.V. Genesis 49:3; A.V. Job 4:21; and in ‘have the excellency’ for הותיר to shew superiority, Genesis 49:4 R.V.

יתרון superiority: A.V., R.V. Ecclesiastes 7:12.

גאון majesty, fig. glory, pride: A.V., R.V. Exodus 15:7, Psalm 47:4, Isaiah 60:15, Amos 6:8 (R.V. marg. pride), Daniel 8:7, Nahum 2:2; A.V. Job 37:4 (R.V. majesty), Isaiah 13:10 (R.V. glory), Ezekiel 24:21 (R.V. pride); R.V. Job 40:10.

גאוה majesty: A.V., R.V. Deuteronomy 33:26; Deuteronomy 33:29, Psalm 68:34.

שׂאת uprising, loftiness, dignity: A.V., R.V. Job 13:11, Psalm 62:4; R.V. Job 31:23.

שׂיא loftiness, dignity: A.V., R.V. Job 20:6.

גבהּ height, fig. loftiness: A.V. Job 40:10 (R.V. dignity).

יקר preciousness, fig. beauty: R.V. Psalm 37:20[213].

[213] Used here in its weakened modern sense.

הדר glory, splendour: A.V., R.V. Isaiah 35:2 (bis).

ὑπεροχὴ superiority: A.V., R.V. 1 Corinthians 2:1.

ὑπερβολὴ excess: A.V. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (R.V. exceeding greatness).

τὸ ὑπερέχον the surpassingness: A.V., R.V. Php 3:8.

ἀρετὴ virtue: R.V. 1 Peter 2:9[214].

[214] Used here in its weakened modern sense.

And excellent is used for

גדולה greatness: A.V., R.V. Esther 1:4 (lit. the majesty of his greatness).

שׂגיא great: A.V., R.V. Job 37:23.

אדיר grand, glorious (Isaiah 33:21), noble (Jdg 5:13): P.B.V., A.V., R.V. Psalm 8:1; Psalm 8:9; A.V., R.V. Psalm 16:3; Psalm 76:4.

יקר precious: P.B.V., A.V. Psalm 36:7 (R.V. precious); A.V. Proverbs 17:27 (following the Qrê: R.V. follows the K’tib).

למעלה upwards (paraphrased): P.B.V. Psalm 74:6 (based on Seb. Münster’s rendering, ad sublime aliquid).

נכבד glorious: P.B.V. Psalm 87:2.

נשׂגב exalted: P.B.V. Psalm 139:5 (A.V., R.V. high); P.B.V., A.V. Psalm 148:12 [A.V. 13] (R.V. exalted).

ראשׁ head, fig. top, chiefness: A.V. Psalm 141:5 (lit. oil of chiefness).

רב abundance: P.B.V., A.V., R.V. Psalm 150:2 (lit. the abundance of his greatness).

נגידים princely things: A.V., R.V. Proverbs 8:6.

יָתֵר superior: A.V. Proverbs 12:26 (R.V. derives the word differently).

יֶתֶר superiority: A.V., R.V. Proverbs 17:7 (lit. speech of superiority).

שׁלישׁים captain-like (?), i.e. noble (?) things: A.V., R.V. Proverbs 22:20.

בחור choice: A.V., R.V. Song of Solomon 5:15 (‘excellent as the cedars’).

גאון majesty: A.V., R.V. Isaiah 4:2 (R.V. marg. majestic).

גאות majesty: A.V., R.V. Isaiah 12:5.

הגדיל to make great: A.V., R.V. Isaiah 28:29Daniel 2:49At Daniel's request the king made his three friends governors of the province. וּמנּי is not, with Hv. and other older writers, to be translated that he should ordain; this sense must be expressed by the imperfect. The matter of the prayer is not specially given, but is to be inferred from the granting of it. But this prayer is not, with Hitz. and older interpreters, to be understood as implying that Daniel entreated the king to release him from the office of vicegerent, and that the king entrusted that office to his three friends; for if Daniel wished to retain this dignity, but to transfer the duty to his friends, there was no need, as Hitz. thinks, for this purpose, for the express appointment of the king; his mere permission was enough. But whence did Hitz. obtain this special information regarding the state arrangements of Babylon? and how does he know that מנּי, to decree, means an express appointment in contradistinction to a royal permission? The true state of the matter Hv. has clearly explained. The chief ruler of the province had a number of ὕπαρχοι, under-officers, in the province for the various branches of the government. To such offices the king appointed Daniel's three friends at his request, so that he might be able as chief ruler to reside continually at the court of the king. עבידתּא, rendering of service equals המּלך עבדת, service of the king, 1 Chronicles 26:30, according as the matter may be: the management of business. מלכּא בּתרע, near the gate, i.e., at the court of the king, for the gate, the door, is named for the building to which it formed the entrance; cf. המּלך שׁער, Esther 2:19, Esther 2:21; Esther 3:2. Gesenius is in error when he explains the words there as meaning that Daniel was made prefect of the palace.
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