Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Daniel 6:14-15. Then the king, when he heard these things, was sore displeased with himself — Having too late discovered that the princes, in procuring him to sign this decree, had no other end or aim, but to take advantage of it to the prejudice of Daniel. The word באשׂ, here rendered displeased, which in Hebrew signifies to be rotten, is used in Chaldee for such great distress as preys upon the mind, and occasions rottenness in the bones. The meaning is, that the king was very much troubled, and exceedingly vexed with himself. And set his heart on Daniel to deliver him — The LXX. render it, και περι του Δανιηλ ηγωνισατο το εξελεσθαι αυτον, a very strong expression, implying that his anxiety to save him was so great as to throw him into an agony. And he laboured till the going down of the sun — Endeavouring to find out some exception for him from the law, and being in a great strait through the necessity he was under to have the law executed, and the regard he had for Daniel. Then these men assembled unto the king — These were bold men, and resolved to pursue their point and have their will, rather than the king should have his, in this case. The king wished to retrieve an evil act, and to retract, or at least to mitigate, a rigid and rash decree, which was acting an honourable and princely part; but they insist that the law must have its course, and its sentence be fully executed on him, who, they urged, had violated it, because it was a fundamental maxim in the constitution of the government of the Medes and Persians, that no decree or statute which the king established should be changed.Daniel 6:24; or if he did perceive it, there was no way of preventing the consequences from coming on Daniel - and that was the point that now engrossed his attention. He was doubtless displeased with himself,
(1) because he saw that he had done wrong in confirming such a decree, which interfered with what had been tolerated - the free exercise of religion by his subjects;
(2) because he now saw that it was foolish, and unworthy of a king, thus to assent to a law for which there was no good reason, and the consequences of which he had not foreseen; and
(3) because he now saw that he had involved the first officer of the realm, and a man of unsullied character, in ruin, unless some way could be devised by which the consequences of the statute could be averted.
It is no uncommon thing for men to be displeased with themselves when they experience the unexpected consequences of their follies and their sins. An instance strongly resembling that here stated, in its main features, occurred at a later period in the history of Persia - an instance showing how the innocent may be involved in a general law, and how much perplexity and regret may be caused by the enactment of such a law. It occurred in Persia, in the persecution of Christians, 344 a.d. "An edict appeared, which commanded that all Christians should be thrown into chains and executed. Many belonging to every rank died as martyrs. Among these was an eunuch of the palace, named Azades, a man greatly prized by the king. So much was the latter affected by his death, that he commanded the punishment of death should be inflicted from thenceforth only on the leaders of the Christian sect; that is, only on persons of the clerical order." - Neander's Church History, Torrey's Translation, vol. iii. p. 146.
And set his heart on Daniel to deliver him - In what way he sought to deliver him is not said. It would seem probable from the representation in the following verse, that it was by an inquiry whether the statute might not properly be changed or cancelled, or whether the penalty might not be commuted - for it is said that his counselors urged as a reason for the strict infliction of the punishment the absolute unchangeableness of the statute. Perhaps he inquired whether a precedent might not be found for the abrogation of a law enacted by a king by the same authority that enacted it; or whether it did not come within the king's prerogative to change it; or whether the punishment might not be commuted without injury; or whether the evidence of the guilt was perfectly clear; or whether he might not be pardoned without anything being done to maintain the honor of the law. This is one of the most remarkable instances on record of the case of a monarch seeking to deliver a subject from punishment when the monarch had absolute power, and is a striking illustration of the difficulties which often arise in the administration of justice, where the law is absolute, and where justice seems to demand the infliction of the penalty, and yet where there are strong reasons why the penalty should not be inflicted; that is, why an offender should be pardoned. And yet there is no improbability in this statement about the perplexity of the king, for
(1) there were strong reasons, easily conceivable, why the penalty should not be inflicted in this case, because
(a) the law had been evidently devised by the crafty enemies of Daniel to secure just such a result;
(b) Daniel had been guilty of no crime - no moral wrong, but had done only what should commend him more to favor and confidence;
(c) his character was every way upright and pure;
(d) the very worship which he had been detected in had been up to that period allowed, and there was no reason why it should now be punished, and
(e) the infliction of the penalty, though strictly according to the letter of the law, would be manifestly a violation of justice and equity; or, in other words, it was every way. desirable that it should not be inflicted.
(2) Yet there was great difficulty in pardoning him who had offended, for
(a) the law was absolute in the case;
till … going down of … sun—The king took this time to deliberate, thinking that after sunset Daniel would be spared till morning, and that meanwhile some way of escape would turn up. But (Da 6:15) the conspirators "assembled tumultuously" (literally) to prevent this delay in the execution, lest the king should meantime change his decree.Daniel 3:19, but he was angry with himself, that he should be so moved by his courtiers, against an innocent person of so much honour and honesty. This made him labour to save Daniel till sun-set. Sometimes blaming his own inadvertency and levity in so rash and sinful a decree. Sometimes considering the great reverence of so holy a man. Then the cruelty and craft in laying snares by laws made on purpose, against the best people in his court and kingdom. Then withal how hard it was to break or elude a law that was by custom unalterable, and how unsafe to reject his princes when they pleaded for the king and his laws.
and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; he resolved, if possible, to do it; he applied his mind to it; he turned his thoughts wholly that way, and contrived all ways and means to effect it: R. Mattathiah, in Saadiah, interprets the phrase of his offering money as a ransom for his life:
and he laboured till the going down of the sun to save him; from the will of the princes, and from the jaws of the lions: very probably it was early in the morning these princes found Daniel at prayer, who went immediately to the king with their accusation; so that he was all day labouring with all his might and main to find out ways and means to save his darling favourite; he studied to put such a sense upon his decree, that it might not reach Daniel's case; he strove to make the princes easy, and to persuade them to drop the affair, and not insist on the execution of the decree.Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. was sore displeased with himself] was sore displeased (R.V.): ‘with himself’ is incorrect. The expression is the Aram. equivalent of the Heb. phrase found in Jonah 4:1; Nehemiah 2:10; Nehemiah 13:8.
laboured] rather, continued striving; Theod. ἡγωνίσατο, Pesh. מתכתש הוא. The idea expressed by the word is that of struggling.
to deliver him (second time)] to rescue him (R.V.: so Daniel 6:27 A.V.); a different word from the one rendered ‘deliver’ just before.Daniel 2:45, and דחיל, Daniel 2:31. Even the command to kill all the wise men of Babylon is scarcely to be understood of all the wise men of the whole kingdom. The word Babylon may represent the Babylonian empire, or the province of Babylonia, or the city of Babylon only. In the city of Babylon a college of the Babylonian wise men or Chaldeans was established, who, according to Strabo (xv. 1. 6), occupied a particular quarter of the city as their own; but besides this, there were also colleges in the province of Babylon at Hipparenum, Orchae, which Plin. hist. nat. vi. 26 (30) designates as tertia Chaldaeorum doctrina, at Borsippa, and other places. The wise men who were called (Daniel 2:2) into the presence of the king, were naturally those who resided in the city of Babylon, for Nebuchadnezzar was at that time in his palace. Yet of those who had their residence there, Daniel and his companions were not summoned, because they had just ended their noviciate, and because, obviously, only the presidents or the older members of the several classes were sent for. But since Daniel and his companions belonged to the whole body of the wise men, they also were sought out that they might be put to death.
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