Daniel 3:4
Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
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(4) People, nations.—In Biblical language the latter word is used (Genesis 25:16) of the tribes of Ishmael, each of which had its own head, or of the Midianites (Numbers 25:15). The former is applied to Israel in Psalm 111:6, where occurs the phrase, “people of Jehovah.” The word “languages” is applied (Genesis 10:5; Genesis 10:20, &c.) to tribes as represented by their languages. Hence these three expressions denote all nations subject to the empire, of whatever description of language, government, or federation. (Comp. Daniel 3:29, and Daniel 4:1; Daniel 7:14.)

Daniel 3:4-6. Then a herald cried aloud — Made proclamation in the languages of the several nations assembled; To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages — Whatever parts of the empire you come from, and whatever language you speak. This form of speech was doubtless designed to set forth the largeness and extent of the Babylonish empire. That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, &c. — That is, of wind and stringed instruments of various sorts. It is justly observed by Mr. Scott here, that “the several words by which the several kinds of musical instruments are enumerated in this chapter, do not seem to admit of any satisfactory explanation:” certainly, “without distinctly referring to ancient usages,” and going to a great length of explication, “they cannot be made intelligible, except to those few who are fully acquainted with those usages, and perhaps scarcely even to them:” and if the reader could attain correct ideas of the forms and powers of them all, he would from this derive but little edification. Ye fall down and worship the golden image — Let all take notice, 1st, That the king strictly charges and commands all manner of persons, whatever other gods they worship at other times, now to worship this. 2d, That all do this just at the same time, in token of their communion with each other at this service. And whosoever falleth not down and worshippeth — St. Jerome observes, that falling down is applied, in Scripture, rather to idols than the true God; (see Matthew 4:9;) shall the same hour, &c. — This is the first place in the Old Testament where we meet with the division of time into hours. The Greeks ascribe the invention of them to Anaximander, who, perhaps, received it from the Chaldees. The mode of punishment here mentioned was common among this people: compare Jeremiah 29:22. It has been said, that Abraham was exposed to this punishment before his departure from Chaldea: see Genesis 11:31; and Calmet. Similar methods has mystical Babylon followed, to compel those she denominates heretics to embrace her creed, and join in her anti-christian worship.

3:1-7 In the height of the image, about thirty yards, probably is included a pedestal, and most likely it was only covered with plates of gold, not a solid mass of that precious metal. Pride and bigotry cause men to require their subjects to follow their religion, whether right or wrong, and when worldly interest allures, and punishment overawes, few refuse. This is easy to the careless, the sensual, and the infidel, who are the greatest number; and most will go their ways. There is nothing so bad which the careless world will not be drawn to by a concert of music, or driven to by a fiery furnace. By such methods, false worship has been set up and maintained.Then an herald cried aloud - Margin, as in Chaldee, "with might." He made a loud proclamation. A "herald" here means a public crier.

To you it is commanded - Margin, "they commanded." Literally, "to you commanding" (plural); that is, the king has commanded.

O people, nations, and languages - The empire of Babylon was made up of different nations, speaking quite different languages. The representatives of these nations were assembled on this occasion, and the command would extend to all. There was evidently no exception made in favor of the scruples of any, and the order would include the Hebrews as well as others. It should be observed, however, that no others but the Hebrews would have any scruples on the subject. They were all accustomed to worship idols, and the worship of one god did not prevent their doing homage also to another. It accorded with the prevailing views of idolaters that there were many gods; that there were tutelary divinities presiding over particular people; and that it was not im proper to render homage to the god of any people or country. Though, therefore, they might themselves worship other gods in their own countries, they would have no scruples about worshipping also the one that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. In this respect the Jews were an exception. They acknowledged but one God; they believed that all others were false gods, and it was a violation of the fundamental principles of their religion to render homage to any other.

4. The arguments of the persecutor are in brief, Turn or burn. An herald: it is likely there were many heralds at the head of that great concourse, else they could not all hear.

People, nations, and languages: proclamation was made therefore in several languages, to some of several nations assembled there, and to the representatives of all.

Then an herald cried aloud,.... That his voice might be heard all over the plain; or if it should be thought that one was not sufficient to be heard throughout, which probably was the case, and where; so great a number being assembled together, all could not hear one man, the singular may be put for the plural; and many being set in different places in the plain, and speaking different languages, might proclaim when the image was dedicated, as follows:

to you it is commanded; by the king's authority:

O people, nations, and languages; the several kingdoms, states, and provinces, that belonged to the Babylonian monarchy, and spoke different languages, as now represented by their several governors and officers; as the Armenians, Parthians, Medes, Persians, &c.

Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, {d} nations, and languages,

(d) These are the two dangerous weapons, which Satan used to fight against the children of God, the consent of the multitude, and the cruelty of the punishment. For even though some feared God, yet the multitude who consented to the wickedness persuaded them: and here the King required not an inward consent, but an outward gesture, that the Jews might by little and little learn to forget their true religion.

4. And the herald cried aloud] lit. with might: Song of Solomon 4:14; Song of Solomon 5:7; and in Heb. (though the substantive is a different one) Jonah 3:8.

peoples, nations, and languages] the same pleonastic combination, Daniel 3:7; Daniel 3:29, Daniel 4:1, Daniel 5:19, Daniel 6:25, Daniel 7:14; cf. also Isaiah 66:18. Similarly Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 10:11; Revelation 11:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 17:16. Here the combination is no doubt used under the idea that strangers from different countries ruled by Nebuchadnezzar, as well as from other parts (such as were always to be found in Babylon: Isaiah 13:14 b, Isaiah 47:15; Jeremiah 50:16), would be present on such an occasion.

peoples] i.e. nations, a sense not now expressed by the English ‘people.’ See the remarks on this word in the Preface to the Revised Version of the O.T.

Verses 4, 5. - Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up. The Septuagint rendering is, "And the herald proclaimed to the multitudes, To you it is announced, peoples and countries, nations and tongues, when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, the pipe, the harp, the sackbut, and psaltery, of chorus, and of all kinds of music, that ye fall down and worship the golden image which King Nebuchadnezzar set up." It is clear that the Septuagint translator rendered חיל as "host," and translated בְ as if it were לְ. The balanced cadence of the next clause seems more natural, if due to the Aramaic source than to the Greek translator. The musical instruments are also arranged in the same cadenced fashion, broken to some extent by συμφωνία. Theodotion is, as usual, in closer agreement with the Massoretic text, but omits συμφωνία. The Peshitta in the fourth verse agrees not only word for word, but we might almost say syllable for syllable, with the Massoretic text. In the fifth verse it omits pesanterin; instead of sabka, it has kinora, which is usually regarded as the Hebrew equivalent of κιθάρα; instead of συμφωνία, it has tziphonia, which suggests a different etymology. It is true Strack ('Neu Hebraische Sprache') points out that ס has a tendency to become צ before syllables with the ד sound or at the end of words, but this is neither of these; the syllable with צ is the first, not the last, and there is no d or t sound in the word. Jerome is in strict verbal agreement with the Massoretic text. We shall have to devote a short excursus to the names of the musical instruments which occur here. In eagerness to find proofs of the late origin of the Book of Daniel - of its origin in the times of the Hellenic domination, karoza was derived from .κήρυξ, that etymology is universally abandoned now. O people, nations, and languages. It ought rather to be peoples. Bishop Wordsworth remarks on the resemblance which this phrase bears to tsar used of the mystical Babylon in Revelation (Revelation 13:7; 17:15), and adds that she also "commands them to fall down and worship the image which she has set up." In regard to the following verse, the sculptures of Nineveh prove the prominence given to music in all important occasions, as the celebration of a triumph or the dedication of a temple. The names of the musical instruments are not so generally preserved. It was most likely when the rays of the morning sun smote the golden tip of the obelisk, that there came the burst of music which was to serve as a signal for all the multitudes to fall down and worship. The image was looked upon as the sign of the god it represented; it received the worship meant for him. Daniel 3:4Nebuchadnezzar commanded all the chief officers of the kingdom to be present at the solemn dedication of the image. שׁלח, he sent, viz., מלאכים or רצים messengers, 1 Samuel 11:7; 2 Chronicles 30:6, 2 Chronicles 30:10; Esther 3:15. Of the great officers of state, seven classes are named: - 1. אחשׁדּרפּניּא, i.e., administrators of the Khshatra, in Old Pers. dominion, province, and pâvan in Zend., guardians, watchers, in Greek Σατράπης, the chief representatives of the king in the provinces. 2. סגניּא, Hebr. סגנים, from the Old Pers. (although not proved) akana, to command (see under Daniel 2:48), commanders, probably the military chiefs of the provinces. 3. פּחותא, Hebr. פּחה, פחות, also an Old Pers. word, whose etymon and meaning have not yet been established (see under Haggai 1:1), denotes the presidents of the civil government, the guardians of the country; cf. Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:14; Nehemiah 5:14, Nehemiah 5:18. 4. אדרגּזריּא, chief judges, from the Sem. גזר, to distinguish, and אדר, dignity (cf. אדרמּלך), properly, chief arbitrators, counsellors of the government. 5. גּדבריּא, a word of Aryan origin, from גּדבר, identical with גּזבּר, masters of the treasury, superintendents of the public treasury. 6. דּתבריּא, the Old Pers. dâta-bara, guardians of the law, lawyers (cf. דּת, law). 7. תּפתּיּא, Semitic, from Arab. fty IV to give a just sentence, thus judges in the narrower sense of the word. Finally, all שׁלטני, rulers, i.e., governors of provinces, prefects, who were subordinate to the chief governor, cf. Daniel 2:48-49.

All these officers were summoned "to come (מתא from אתא, with the rejection of the initial )א to the dedication of the image." The objection of v. Leng. and Hitz., that this call would "put a stop to the government of the country," only shows their ignorance of the departments of the state-government, and by no means makes the narrative doubtful. The affairs of the state did not lie so exclusively in the hands of the presidents of the different branches of the government, as that their temporary absence should cause a suspension of all the affairs of government. חנכּה is used of the dedication of a house (Deuteronomy 20:5) as well as of the temple (1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chronicles 7:5; Ezra 6:16), and here undoubtedly denotes an act connected with religious usages, by means of which the image, when the great officers of the kingdom fell down before it, was solemnly consecrated as the symbol of the world-power and (in the heathen sense) of its divine glory. This act is described (Daniel 3:3-7) in so far as the object contemplated rendered it necessary.

When all the great officers of state were assembled, a herald proclaimed that as soon as the sound of the music was heard, all who were present should, on pain of death by being cast into the fire, fall down before the image and offer homage to it; which they all did as soon as the signal was given. The form קאמין, Daniel 3:3, corresponds to the sing. קאם (Daniel 2:31) as it is written in Syr., but is read קימין. The Masoretes substitute for it in the Talm. The common form קימין; cf. Frst, Lehrgb. der aram. Idiom. p. 161, and Luzzatto, Elem. Gram. p. 33. The expression לקבל, Daniel 3:3, and Ezra 4:16, is founded on קבל, the semi-vowel of the preceding sound being absorbed, as in the Syr. l-kebel. On כּרוזא, herald, and on the form לכון, see under Daniel 2:5. אמרין, they say, for "it is said to you." The expression of the passive by means of a plural form of the active used impersonally, either participially or by 3rd pers. perf. plur., is found in Hebr., but is quite common in Chald.; cf. Ewald, Lehr. d. hebr. Spr. 128, b, and Winer, Chald. Gram. 49, 3. The proclamation of the herald refers not only to the officers who were summoned to the festival, but to all who were present, since besides the officers there was certainly present a great crowd of people from all parts of the kingdom, as M. Geier has rightly remarked, so that the assembly consisted of persons of various races and languages. אמּיּא denotes tribes of people, as the Hebr. אמּה, אמּות Genesis 25:16, denotes the several tribes of Ishmael, and Numbers 25:15 the separate tribes of the Midianites, and is thus not so extensive in its import as עמּין, peoples. לשּׁניּא, corresponding to הלּשׁות, Isaiah 66:18, designates (vide Genesis 10:5, Genesis 10:20, Genesis 10:31) communities of men of the same language, and is not a tautology, since the distinctions of nation and of language are in the course of history frequently found. The placing together of the three words denotes all nations, however they may have widely branched off into tribes with different languages, and expresses the sense that no one in the whole kingdom should be exempted from the command. It is a mode of expression (cf. Daniel 3:7, Daniel 3:29, 31[4:1], and Daniel 6:26[25]) specially characterizing the pathetic style of the herald and the official language of the world-kingdom, which Daniel also (Daniel 5:19; Daniel 7:14) makes use of, and which from the latter passage is transferred to the Apocalypse, and by the union of these passages in Daniel with Isaiah 66:18 is increased to ἔθνη (גּוים in Isa.), φυλλαι,́ λαοὶ καὶ γλῶσσαι (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 17:15).

In the same passage זמנא בּהּ, Daniel 3:7 (cf. also Daniel 3:8), is interchanged with בּעדּנא, at the time (Daniel 3:5 and Daniel 3:15); but it is to be distinguished from בּהּ־שׁעתּא, at the same moment, Daniel 3:6 and Daniel 3:15; for שׁעא or שׁעה has in the Bib. Chald. only the meaning instant, moment, cf. Daniel 4:16, Daniel 4:30; Daniel 5:5, and acquires the signification short time, hour, first in the Targ. and Rabbin. In the enumeration also of the six names of the musical instruments with the addition: and all kinds of music, the pompous language of the world-ruler and of the herald of his power is well expressed. Regarding the Greek names of three of these instruments see p. 507. The great delight of the Babylonians in music and stringed instruments appears from Isaiah 14:11 and Psalm 137:3, and is confirmed by the testimony of Herod. i. 191, and Curtius, Daniel 3:3. קרנא, horn, is the far-sounding tuba of the ancients, the קרן or שׁופר of the Hebr.; see under Joshua 6:5. משׁרוקיתא, from שׁרק, to hiss, to whistle, is the reed-flute, translated by the lxx and Theodot. σύριγξ, the shepherd's or Pan's pipes, which consisted of several reeds of different thicknesses and of different lengths bound together, and, according to a Greek tradition (Pollux, iv. 9, 15), was invented by two Medes. קיתתס (according to the Kethiv; but the Keri and the Targ. and Rabbin. give the form קתרס) is the Greek κιθάρα or κίθαρις, harp, for the Greek ending ις becomes ος in the Aramaic, as in many similar cases; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 1215. סבּכא, corresponding to the Greek σαμβύκη, but a Syrian invention, is, according to Athen. iv. p. 175, a four-stringed instrument, having a sharp, clear tone; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 935. פּסנמּרין (in Daniel 3:7 written with a טinstead of תand in Daniel 3:10 and Daniel 3:15 pointed with a Tsere under the )ת is the Greek ψαλτήριον, of which the Greek ending ιον becomes abbreviated in the Aram. into ין (cf. Ges. Thes. p. 1116). The word has no etymology in the Semitic. It was an instrument like a harp, which according to Augustin (on Psalm 33:2 [Psalm 32:2] and Psalm 43:4 [Psalm 42:4) was distinguished from the cithara in this particular, that while the strings of the cithara passed over the sounding-board, those of the psalterium (or organon) were placed under it. Such harps are found on Egyptian (see Rosellini) and also on Assyrian monuments (cf. Layard, Ninev. and Bab., Table xiii. 4). סוּמפּניה, in Daniel 3:10 סיפניה, is not derived from ספן, contignare, but is the Aramaic form of συμφωνία, bag-pipes, which is called in Italy at the present day sampogna, and derives its Greek name from the accord of two pipes placed in the bag; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 941. זמרא signifies, not "song," but musical playing, from reemaz, to play the strings, ψάλλειν; and because the music of the instrument was accompanied with song, it means also the song accompanying the music. The explanation of זמרא by singing stands here in opposition to the זני כּל, since all sorts of songs could only be sung after one another, but the herald speaks of the simultaneous rise of the sound. The limiting of the word also to the playing on a stringed instrument does not fit the context, inasmuch as wind instruments are also named. Plainly in the words זמרא זני כּל all the other instruments not particularly named are comprehended, so that זמרא is to be understood generally of playing on musical instruments. בּהּ־שׁעתּא, in the same instant. The frequent pleonastic use in the later Aramaic of the union of the preposition with a suffix anticipating the following noun, whereby the preposition is frequently repeated before the noun, as e.g., בּדּניּאל בּהּ, Daniel 5:12, cf. Daniel 5:30, has in the Bibl. Chald. generally a certain emphasis, for the pronominal suffix is manifestly used demonstratively, in the sense even this, even that.

Homage was commanded to be shown to the image under the pain of death to those who refused. Since "the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar was founded not by right, but by the might of conquest" (Klief.), and the homage which he commanded to be shown to the image was regarded not only as a proof of subjection under the power of the king, but comprehended in it also the recognition of his gods as the gods of the kingdom, instances of refusal were to be expected. In the demand of the king there was certainly a kind of religious oppression, but by no means, as Bleek, v. Leng., and other critics maintain, a religious persecution, as among heathen rulers Antiochus Epiphanes practised it. For so tolerant was heathenism, that it recognised the gods of the different nations; but all heathen kings required that the nations subdued by them should also recognise the gods of their kingdom, which they held to be more powerful than were the gods of the vanquished nations. A refusal to yield homage to the gods of the kingdom they regarded as an act of hostility against the kingdom and its monarch, while every one might at the same time honour his own national god. This acknowledgement, that the gods of the kingdom were the more powerful, every heathen could grant; and thus Nebuchadnezzar demanded nothing in a religious point of view which every one of his subjects could not yield. To him, therefore, the refusal of the Jews could not but appear as opposition to the greatness of his kingdom. But the Jews, or Israelites, could not do homage to the gods of Nebuchadnezzar without rejecting their faith that Jehovah alone was God, and that besides Him there were no gods. Therefore Nebuchadnezzar practised towards them, without, from his polytheistic standpoint, designing it, an intolerable religious coercion, which, whoever, is fundamentally different from the persecution of Judaism by Antiochus Epiphanes, who forbade the Jews on pain of death to serve their God, and endeavoured utterly to destroy the Jewish religion. - Regarding the structure of the fiery furnace, see under Daniel 3:22.

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