Daniel 6:24
And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and broke all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.
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Daniel 6:24. And the king commanded, and they brought those men, &c. — Darius, being animated by this miracle wrought for Daniel, now begins to take courage and act like himself: those that would not suffer him to show mercy to Daniel, now God has done it for him, shall be made to feel his resentments, and he will do justice for God, who hath showed mercy for him. Daniel’s accusers, now his innocence is cleared, and Heaven itself is become his compurgator, have the same punishment inflicted on them which they designed against him, according to the law of retaliation made against false accusers, Deuteronomy 19:11; Deuteronomy 19:19. Such they were now reckoned, Daniel being proved innocent; for though the fact of his praying was true, yet it was not a fault. They were cast into the den of lions, which perhaps was a punishment newly invented by themselves; it was, however, that which they maliciously designed for Daniel. And now Solomon’s observation was verified, The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead. Them, their children, and their wives — According to the cruel laws and customs which prevailed in those countries, of involving whole families in the punishment due to particular persons; in opposition to which that equitable law was ordained by Moses, that the fathers should not be put to death for their children, nor the children for the fathers, Deuteronomy 24:16. And the lions had the mastery of them — This verified and magnified the miracle of their sparing Daniel; for hereby it appeared, that it was not because they were not fierce, or had not appetite, but because they were not permitted to touch him. The Lord is known by those judgments which he executeth.6:18-24 The best way to have a good night, is to keep a good conscience. We are sure of what the king doubted, that the servants of the living God have a Master well able to protect them. See the power of God over the fiercest creatures, and believe his power to restrain the roaring lion that goeth about continually seeking to devour. Daniel was kept perfectly safe, because he believed in his God. Those who boldly and cheerfully trust in God to protect them in the way of duty, shall always find him a present help. Thus the righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead. The short triumph of the wicked will end in their ruin.And the king commanded, and they brought those men, which had accused Daniel ... - It would seem probable that the king had been aware of their wicked designs against Daniel, and had been satisfied that the whole was the result of a conspiracy, but he felt himself under a necessity of allowing the law to take its course on him whom he believed to be really innocent. That had been done. All that the law could be construed as requiring had been accomplished. It could not be pretended that the law required that any other punishment should be inflicted on Daniel, and the way was now clear to deal with the authors of the malicious plot as they deserved. No one can reasonably doubt the probability of what is here said in regard to the conspirators against Daniel. The king had arbitrary power. He was convinced of their guilt. His wrath had been with difficulty restrained when he understood the nature of the plot against Daniel. Nothing, therefore, was more natural than that he should subject the guilty to the same punishment which they had sought to bring upon the innocent; nothing more natural than that a proud despot, who saw that, by the force of a law which he could not control, he had been made a tool in subjecting the highest officer of the realm, and the best man in it, to peril of death, should, without any delay, wreak his vengeance on those who had thus made use of him to gratify their own malignant passions.

Them, their children, and their wives - This was in accordance with Oriental notions of justice, and was often done. It is said expressly by Ammianus Marcellinus (23, 6, 81), to have been a custom among the Persians: "The laws among them (the Persians) are formidable; among which those which are enacted against the ungrateful and deserters, and similar abominable crimes, surpass others in cruelty, by which, on account of the guilt of one, all the kindred perish" - per quas ob noxam unius omnis propinquitas perit. So Curtius says of the Macedonians: "It is enacted by law that the kindred of those who conspire against the king shall be put to death with them." Instances of this kind of punishment are found among the Hebrews (Joshua 7:24; 2 Samuel 21:5, following), though it was forbidden by the law of Moses, in judicial transactions, Deuteronomy 24:16. Compare also Ezekiel 18; Maurer, in loc. In regard to this transaction we may; observe

(a) that nothing is more probable than that this would occur, since, as appears from the above quotations, it was often done, and there was nothing in the character of Darius that would prevent it, though it seems to us to be so unjust

(b) it was the act of a pagan monarch, and it is not necessary, in order to defend the Scripture narrative, to vindicate the justice of the transaction. The record may be true, though the thing itself was evil and wrong.

(c) Yet the same thing substantially occurs in the course of Providence, or the administration of justice now. Nothing is more common than that the wife and children of a guilty man should suffer on account of the sin of the husband and father. Who can recount the woes that come upon a family through the intemperance of a father? And in cases where a man is condemned for crime, the consequences are not confined to himself. In shame and mortification, and disgrace; in the anguish experienced when he dies on a gibbet; in the sad remembrance of that disgraceful death; in the loss of one who might have provided for their wants, and been their protector and counselor, the wife and children always suffer; and, though this took another form in ancient times, and when adopted as a principle of punishment is not in accordance with our sense of justice in administering laws, yet it is a principle which pervades the world - for the effects of crime cannot and do not terminate on the guilty individual himself.

And the lions had the mastery of them - As the Divine restraint furnished for the protection of Daniel was withdrawn, they acted out their proper nature.

And brake all their bones in pieces or ever ... - literally, "they did not come to the bottom of the den until the lions had the master of them, and brake all their bones." They seized upon them as they fell, and destroyed them.

24. (De 19:19; Pr 19:5).

accused—literally, "devoured the bones and flesh." It was just that they who had torn Daniel's character, and sought the tearing of his person, should be themselves given to be torn in pieces (Pr 11:8).

their children—Among the Persians, all the kindred were involved in the guilt of one culprit. The Mosaic law expressly forbade this (De 24:16; 2Ki 14:6).

or ever—that is, "before ever." The lions' sparing Daniel could not have been because they were full, as they showed the keenness of their hunger on the accusers.

They cast them into the den of lions; thus they digged a pit for another, and fell into it themselves, which the heathens say was a very just law, the law of retaliation, which the Lord doth often observe, as in the case of Adonibezek, and Ahab, and many more.

Them, their children, and their wives: Darius was yet cruel in this execution, because he cast in with them to the lions their wives and children. This is not without precedent in Scripture, as in Korah and his company, Achan, and Haman, for the greater terror. For the king’s justice in this fact, we need not trouble ourselves, it being the custom of the arbitrary tyrants of the East. And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel,.... Not all the hundred and twenty princes, and the two presidents; but the chief of them, who were most busy in getting the decree signed; watched Daniel's house, and what he did there; brought the charge against him to the king, and were most solicitous and urgent to have the decree put in execution against him:

and they cast them into the den of lions; the servants of the king, who were sent to fetch them, and who brought these by the king's orders, cast them into the same den of lions that Daniel had been in: thus often the pit wicked men dig for others, they fall into themselves; so Haman man was hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai:

them, their children, and their wives; which might be according to the laws of this monarchy in capital offences, relating to affairs of state, as this was for an accusation of a prime minister of state, to take away his life; though such things were common with arbitrary princes, for the terror of others; so Haman and his sons were hanged up by Ahasuerus: this may seem cruel and inhuman, though it might be that the wives and children of these men advised them to do what they did, and were encouragers and approvers of it. Josephus (m) relates, that the enemies of Daniel, when they saw no hurt came to him, would not ascribe it to the providence of God, but to the lions being full of food; upon which the king ordered much meat to be given them, and then the men to be cast in to them, to see whether because of their fulness they would come unto them or not:

and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces, or ever they came at the bottom of the den; the lions seized them at once; and though they did all they could to defend themselves, fighting with them; yet the lions were too powerful for them, and overcame them, and not only tore off their flesh, but broke their bones in pieces, and that as they were falling, before they came to the bottom, or the lower part of the den; this was a plain proof that it was not through fulness, or want of appetite, that the lions did not fall upon Daniel and devour him: this affair happened in the first year of Darius, which, according to Bishop Usher (n), and Dean Prideaux (o), and Mr. Whiston (p), was in the year of the world 3466 A.M., and 538 B.C.; Mr. Bedford (q) places it in 537 B.C.

(m) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 6. (n) Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3466. (o) Connexion, &c. part 1. p. 125, 128. (p) Chronological Tables, cent. 10. (q) Scripture Chronology, p. 711.

And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they {l} cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

(l) This is a terrible example against all the wicked who do against their conscience make cruel laws to destroy the children of God, and also admonishes princes how to punish such when their wickedness is come to light: though not in every point, or with similar circumstances, but yet to execute true justice upon them.

24. The king’s vengeance on the men who had maliciously accused Daniel.

accused] see on Daniel 3:8.

their children, and their wives] according to the rough justice—or, to our minds, injustice—of antiquity: cf. Joshua 7:24-25; 2 Samuel 21:5-9; Esther 9:13-14; Hdt. iii. 119. Cf. Mozley’s Ruling Ideas in Early Ages, p. 87 ff., in explanation of the principle involved.

had the mastery of them] or fell upon them—a sense which the Aram. phrase, properly meaning to rule over, has in the Targums (e.g. Jdg 15:12; 2 Samuel 1:15).

in pieces] These words should be followed by a comma (as in R.V.), the words or ever &c., having reference to both the preceding clauses (the order in the Aram. is ‘and they reached not the bottom of the pit, ere the lions’ &c.).

or ever] i.e. before; the expression being a pleonastic, reduplicated form of ere (A.S. ær, Germ. eher), frequent in Old English. So Proverbs 8:23 (A.V., R.V.), Ps. 53:8 (P.B.V.), Psalm 90:2 (P.B.V., A.V., R.V.), Song of Solomon 6:12 (A.V., R.V.), Acts 23:15 (A.V., R.V.); Isaiah 65:24, in Coverdale’s version, ‘Or ever they call, I shal answere them’; and several times in Shakespeare. Mr Wright (Bible Word-Book, s.v.) quotes from Latimer’s Sermons, ‘The great man was gone forth about such affairs as behoved him, or [= ere] I came.’Verse 24. - And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them. and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. Here the Septuagint text is superior to the Massoretic, as briefer, "Then those two men who had berne witness against Daniel, they, their wives, and their children, were east to the lions, and the lions slew them, and brake their bones." In this account of the punishment meted out to the accusers of Daniel, the victims are only two, with their wives and children. Hitzig contemptuously remarks that the lions' den must have been large to contain a hundred and twenty-two men along with their families - that number he gets by adding to the governors of the provinces the two presidents,colleagues of Daniel. If, however, we assume the Septuagint text to be correct, then this objection falls to the ground. The phrase "or ever they came at the bottom of the den," is an intensification of the narrative. In the Massoretic text it is "all their bones;" in the LXX. it is simply "their bones." Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. The slaughter of the wives and children of offenders, with the guilty persons themselves, was the common practice. There are two other accounts of this event - one preserved in the apocryphal story of Bel and the Dragon, and the other in the pages of Josephus. According to the story of Bel and the Dragon, the king, who thus condemns Daniel, is no less a person than Cyrus the great conqueror. The reason of the condemnation is not a decree forbidding all worship, but because Daniel had laid bare the deceit of the priests of Bel, and killed the sacred dragon, the people of Babylon were incensed, and threatened Cyrus that they would burn his house if he did not deliver Daniel into their hands to be cast into the lions' den. The seven lions were starved in order that they might be sure to devour Daniel. For six days he was there in the den. In order that Daniel might not starve, whatever befell the lions, Habacuc was brought from Judaea, carried by the hair of his head, to feed the prophet. The destruction of Daniel's accusers is stated in a mere compendious fashion. The fact that this version is referred to by Irenaeus ('Adv. Haeres.,' 4.), Tertullian ('De Jejuniis,' 7.), and Clement of Alexandria ('Strom.,' 1. p. 329, Morel), shows that early in the second century this narrative was incorporated with the canonical Daniel. This makes it almost necessarily before Christ in the date of its origin. If so, it is difficult to imagine the canonical version to be only a century and a half older. Josephus shows no signs that he knew of this apocryphal addition, but adds a feature for himself, "The enemies of Daniel, when they saw that nothing evil had befallen him, unwilling to attribute his deliverance to Deity and his providence, declared that the lions had been filled with food, and therefore neither attacked Daniel nor approached him, and maintained this to the king. But he, hating their malice, ordered that much flesh be thrown to the lions, and when they had gorged themselves, that the enemies of Daniel be cast into the den, in order that he might learn whether the lions would spare them on account of their being satisfied. It was then manifest to Darius, when the satraps had been thrown in, that Daniel had been preserved by miracle, for the lions spared none of them, but tore them all to pieces as if they had been famishing." The evidence of the wisdom and power of God is here unfolded; and firs the manifestation of His power. He changes times and seasons. lxx, Theodot. καιροὺς καὶ χρόνους, would be more accurately χρόνους καὶ καιρούς, as in Acts 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1; for the Peschito in these N. T. passages renders χρόνοι by the Syriac word which is equivalent to זמניּא, according to which עדּן is the more general expression for time equals circumstance of time, זמן for measured time, the definite point of time. The uniting together of the synonymous words gives expression to the thought: ex arbitrio Dei pendere revolutiones omnium omnino temporum, quaecunque et qualia-cunque illa fuerint. C. B. Mich. God's unlimited control over seasons and times is seen in this, that He sets up and casts down kings. Thus Daniel explains the revelation regarding the dream of Nebuchadnezzar made to him as announcing great changes in the kingdoms of the world, and revealing God as the Lord of time and of the world in their developments. All wisdom also comes from God. He gives to men disclosures regarding His hidden counsels. This Daniel had just experienced. Illumination dwells with God as it were a person, as Wisdom, Proverbs 8:30. The Kethiv נהירא is maintained against the Keri by נהירוּ, Daniel 5:11, Daniel 5:14. With the perf. שׁרא the participial construction passes over into the temp. fin.; the perfect stands in the sense of the completed act. Therefore (Daniel 2:23) praise and thanksgiving belong to God. Through the revelation of the secret hidden to the wise men of this world He has proved Himself to Daniel as the God of the fathers, as the true God in opposition to the gods of the heathen. וּכען equals ועתּה, and now.
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