Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus to him, King Darius, live for ever.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Assembled.—See margin. Such conduct was very unusual in Eastern Courts, where, as a rule, the strictest decorum and order was preserved. This breach of etiquette must have prepared the king to expect some terrible crisis in the State.
King Darius, live for ever - The usual way of saluting a monarch. See the note at Daniel 2:4.
live for ever—Arrian [Alexander, 4] records that Cyrus was the first before whom prostration was practised. It is an undesigned mark of genuineness that Daniel should mention no prostration before Nebuchadnezzar or Darius (see on Da 3:9).Psalm 2:2,
and said thus unto him, O King Darius, live for ever; this they said as courtiers, professing subjection to him, and affection for him, wishing him health, long life, and happiness.Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. assembled together] came thronging (A.V. marg.; R.V. marg. came tumultuously). The word occurs several times in the Aramaic of the Targums, where it corresponds to Heb. words signifying to be in commotion or tumult, as Psalm 46:6, ‘nations were in tumult,’ Ruth 1:9, ‘and all the inhabitants of the city were in commotion on account of them’; and it occurs once in Heb., Psalm 2:1, ‘Why do the nations throng tumultuously?’ The expression is thus a more vivid and graphic one than would be inferred from the rend. of A.V.: the courtiers, in their animosity against Daniel, are represented as flocking tumultuously to the king, for the purpose of gaining his co-operation in their plan.
 Cf. the cogn. subst. throng, Psalm 55:14 (so R.V.), Psalm 64:2 (R.V. ‘tumult,’ marg. ‘throng’).
live for ever] see on Daniel 2:4.Verses 6-9 - Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not, Wherefore King Darius signed the writing and the decree. The Septuagint, in regard to those verses, is much briefer, and reveals a better text. "Then those men came and said before the king, We have made a decree and a statute, that any man who offereth prayer or presents petition to any god for the space of thirty days, save only to Darius the king, shall be cast into the den of lions; and thus Darius decreed, and confirmed it." The fact that requests to uther men are not forbidden is to be observed. The long catalogue of officials is omitted; the whole conspiracy is the work of Daniel's co-presidents. Theodotion and the Peshitta are in practical agreement with the Massoretic text. To understand the point of this decree, that seems to us so absurd, and comprehend how any one with sufficient mental vigour left to be placed by Cyrus as governor in Babylon could be led to yield to confirm it, we must recognize the state of matters in Babylon. During the reign of Nabunahid there had been many religious changes. The seclusion of the monarch had led to the neglect of many of the regular rites of the gods of Babil. The policy he pursued of bringing the gods of various provinces to Babylon tended, as did the similar policy in Rome, to draw off from the importance of the national religion by forming rival cults. One of the first acts of Cyrus's reign was to order the replacing of these deities in their ancient shrines. This would necessarily be most distasteful to the worshippers of these imported deities. There would be much murmuring among the huge heterogeneous population; and there would be thus a well-grounded fear of a religious riot. A bold soldier as Gobryas (Darius) was, he probably was but a timid ruler, and nothing would he dread more than a religious riot. Would it not be a plausible way of meeting this difficulty to order for one month all worship to cease? The British Government in India regulates the religion of the inhabitants as summarily, forbidding religious observances that are liable to cause excitement in votaries of rival creeds. Thus Moses assigned, as a reason for refusing to sacrifice in Egypt, the wrath of the Egyptians (Exodus 8:26). The offering of a prayer among heathen peoples generally meant the offering of sacrifices, also accompanied possibly by processions. That the decree was made by Darius in the absence of his favourite minister might have two reasons: either from the fact that the word used (hargishoo) implies that the presidents rushed in tumultuously into the royal presence; that there was an emergency which must be met by instant action; or that, being a weak man, he did not wish his other counsellors to think that he was so under the influence of this Jew that he could do nothing without first consulting him; so, by way of showing his independence, he signed the decree. As for the practical deification of himself required from the subject races, that would not appear to him a matter of importance. It might even seem to him as the surest way of doing away with the rancour of religious rivalries to give these conflicting creeds a common object. He, Gobryas, was the representative of Cyrus, in whom deity was incarnate, therefore let them worship him in his representative capacity. That Daniel should be affected by this decree might easily never occur to Gobryas Jewish worship, now that the temple at Jerusalem was in ruins, must have become very much the synagogue worship of the present day. A worship that had neither idols nor sacrifices, neither temple nor altar, would seem to the Babylonians, and for that matter to the Medians and Persians also, as much the same as atheism. Christianity seemed so to the Roman Government. Darius, then, would readily think that Daniel could make no serious objection to this order That Daniel always spoke of a God in heaven did not matter much, since, to all appearance, he never worshipped him. Some have maintained that the punishment was an impossible one. It is certain that Asshur-bani-pal inflicted a similar punishment on Saulmugina, a rebel King of Babylon, and did it in honour of the gods. The main objection has been urged from the mistaken assumption that the text implies that the lions' den was a bottle shaped dungeon. There is nothing in the narrative that necessitates this. In regard to the decree, there is reference to the "laws of the Medea and Persians," "the Medea" being placed first. It has been attributed to court flattery, as Darius was a Merle; probably, however, there may be another explanation. The small canton of Ansan, over which Cyrus was king, lay between Elam and Media, but belonged more to the former than to the latter of these countries. Both countries bad been overrun by a nomadic race, the Manda, under Astyages, who had overthrown Cyaxarcs the King of Media. Against Astyages Cyrus rebelled, and gathered to him the Medea, Elamites, and other cognate races. Dr. Winckler thinks that, on his victory over Astyages, Cyrus assumed the name Persian, Parsu, from his race. The name Parsua appears in connection with the Medea in an inscription of Shalmaneser, where it seems to indicate a small kingdom occupying much the same geographical posit;on as Ansan. By taking this old name, not impossibly Cyrus avoided making the Medea feel themselves subject to the Elamites, or the Elamites to the Medea, or either to the little kingdom of Ansan. The Median had comparatively recently been an imperial power, therefore its laws and constitution would be placed before the more recently prominent Persian. One thing that must be observed is that, while the writer of Daniel mentions Medea separate from Persians, he mentions them conjointly. Had the writer been under the delusion attributed to him by all critical interpreters, that the Median Empire came between the Babylonian and the Persian, he would not have represented the Median courtiers as saying anything about the Persians or their laws; the Medes, and the Medea alone, would be considered. According to the Greek account, from which it is alleged Daniel drew his information, Persia was a small, undeveloped country before Cyrus raised it to empire. What right, then, would it have to have its laws mentioned in the same breath with those of imperial Media? If, however, Cyrus had been raised to such power, so as to be able to encounter successfully Astyages and his Scythian hordes by the adhesion to his cause of the Medea, the laws of the Medea might well get a preference, as the Medea were, in all probability, more numerous than the Persians, though the laws of the Persians would be mentioned. The claim that these laws were immutable must be regarded as on a par with several other Eastern exaggerations. Signed the writing and the decree. The reading of the Septuagint seems superior, "And so King Darius decreed (ἔστησε), and confirmed it." At the same time, the verb resham, translated "sign," really means "engrave," and therefore might naturally enough be used for affixing a seal to a clay tablet; only hetham is the word usually used for "sealing" a document. Behrmann thinks it does not refer to the signature of the sovereign, but to the engraving the decree on the clay. If we imagine yeqeem to have fallen out before "sara, we have a reading not unlike the LXX. In the seventh verse there is a list of officials omitted from the Septuagint; it is almost identical in members with that which we find in ch. 3, but in a slightly different order, only the sareqeen are added and the edargazereen omitted. Daniel 2:8, is regarded, in accordance with the translations of Theodot., ὁ λόγος ἀπ ̓ἐμοῦ ἀπέστη, and of the Vulg., "sermo recessit a me," as a verb, and as of like meaning with עזל, "to go away or depart," and is therefore rendered by M. Geier, Berth., and others in the sense, "the dream has escaped from me;" but Ges. Hv., and many older interpreters translate it, on the contrary, "the command is gone out from me." But without taking into account that the punctuation of the word אזדּא is not at all that of a verb, for this form can neither be a particip. nor the 3rd pers. pret. fem., no acknowledgment of the dream's having escaped from him is made; for such a statement would contradict what was said at Daniel 2:3, and would not altogether agree with the statement of Daniel 2:8. מלּתה is not the dream. Besides, the supposition that אזד is equivalent to אזל, to go away, depart, is not tenable. The change of the לinto דis extremely rare in the Semitic, and is not to be assumed in the word אזל, since Daniel himself uses אזל אזל, Daniel 2:17, Daniel 2:24; Daniel 6:19-20, and also Ezra; Ezra 4:23; Ezra 5:8, Ezra 5:15. Moreover אזל has not the meaning of יצא, to go out, to take one's departure, but corresponds with the Hebr. הלך .rbe, to go. Therefore Winer, Hengst., Ibn Esr. Aben Ezra, Saad., and other rabbis interpret the word as meaning firmus: "the word stands firm;" cf. Daniel 6:13 (12), מלּתא יצּיבה ("the thing is true"). This interpretation is justified by the actual import of the words, as it also agrees with Daniel 2:8; but it does not accord with Daniel 2:5. Here (in Daniel 2:5) the declaration of the certainty of the king's word was superfluous, because all the royal commands were unchangeable. For this reason also the meaning σπουδαιῶς, studiously, earnestly, as Hitz., by a fanciful reference to the Persian, whence he has derived it, has explained it, is to be rejected. Much more satisfactory is the derivation from the Old Persian word found on inscriptions, âzanda, "science," "that which is known," given by Delitzsch (Herz.'s Realenc. iii. p. 274), and adopted by Kran. and Klief.
(Note: In regard to the explanation of the word אזדּא as given above, it is, however, to be remarked that it is not confirmed, and Delitzsch has for the present given it up, because-as he has informed me-the word azdâ, which appears once in the large inscription of Behistan (Bisutun) and twice in the inscription of Nakhschi-Rustam, is of uncertain reading and meaning. Spiegel explains it "unknown," from zan, to know, and a privativum.)
Accordingly Klief. thus interprets the phrase: "let the word from me be known," "be it known to you;" which is more suitable obviously than that of Kran.: "the command is, so far as regards me, made public." For the king now for the first time distinctly and definitely says that he wishes not only to hear from the wise men the interpretation, but also the dream itself, and declares the punishment that shall visit them in the event of their not being able to comply. הדּמין עבד, μέλη ποιεῖν, 2 Macc. 1:16, lxx in Daniel 3:39, διαμελίζεσθαι, to cut in pieces, a punishment that was common among the Babylonians (Daniel 3:39, cf. Ezekiel 16:40), and also among the Israelites in the case of prisoners of war (cf. 1 Samuel 15:33). It is not, however, to be confounded with the barbarous custom which was common among the Persians, of mangling particular limbs. נולי, in Ezra 6:11 נולוּ, dunghill, sink. The changing of their houses into dunghills is not to be regarded as meaning that the house built of clay would be torn down, and then dissolved by the rain and storm into a heap of mud, but is to be interpreted according to 2 Kings 10:27, where the temple of Baal is spoken of as having been broken down and converted into private closets; cf. Hv. in loco. The Keri תּתעבּדוּן without the Dagesh in בmight stand as the Kethiv for Ithpaal, but is apparently the Ithpeal, as at Daniel 3:29; Ezra 6:11. As to בּתּיכון, it is to be remarked that Daniel uses only the suffix forms כון and הון, while with Ezra כם and כן are interchanged (see above, p. 515), which are found in the language of the Targums and might be regarded as Hebraisms, while the forms כון and הון are peculiar to the Syriac and the Samaritan dialects. This distinction does not prove that the Aramaic of Daniel belongs to a period later than that of Ezra (Hitz., v. Leng.), but only that Daniel preserves more faithfully the familiar Babylonian form of the Aramaic than does the Jewish scribe Ezra.
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