Daniel 6:7
All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellers, 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.
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(7) All the presidents.—Observe the order in which the State officers are mentioned—civil rulers, legal advisers, military governors—and comp. Note on Daniel 3:2. The spokesman represents all these officers to have come to a fixed determination after due deliberation. This was false, as it is plain from Daniel 6:24 that all were not involved in the conspiracy. The object of the decree was political, as well as hostile towards Daniel. By consenting to the plan proposed, Darius would acknowledge the Babylonian system of theology, according to which the king was “the living manifestation of all the gods,” while, at the same time, his subjects would have an opportunity of doing him religious homage. Probably this prevented the king from perceiving any plot against Daniel. We see from this history the antiquity of espionage in political matters.

Daniel 6:7-9. All the presidents, &c., have consulted to make a firm decree — As Daniel’s adversaries could have no advantage against him by any law now in being, they therefore contrive a new law, by which they hope to insnare him, and in such a matter as they knew they would be sure of doing it. They pretended that this law, which they wished to have enacted, was the result of mature deliberation; that all the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, princes, &c., had consulted together about it, and that they not only agreed to it, but advised it, for divers good causes and considerations; nay, they intimate to the king that it was carried nemine contradicente. All the presidents, say they, are of this mind, and yet we are sure that Daniel, the chief of the three presidents, did not agree to it; and we have reason to think that many more excepted against it, as absurd and unreasonable. Observe, reader, it is no new thing for that to be represented, and with great assurance too, as the sense of the nation, which is far from being so; and that which few approve of, is sometimes confidently said to be that which all agree to! These designing men, under colour of doing honour to the king, but really intending the ruin of his favourite, urge him to make one of the most absurd decrees that can well be imagined; a decree which would not only suspend by law all the exercise of every kind of religion through that vast empire, for the space of a month, (except any chose to worship the king, who thus inconsiderately, or impiously, suffered himself to be regarded as the only deity of his subjects,) but would prohibit under pain of death, to be inflicted in the most barbarous manner, any request being made from one man to another: “nay, the edict was so framed, that a child might have been condemned for asking bread of his father, or a starving beggar for craving relief.” — Scott. And now, O king, say they, establish the decree, &c., according to the law of the Medes and Persians — There was a law in this monarchy, that no ordinance or edict, made with the necessary formalities, and with the consent of the king’s counsellors, could be revoked: the king himself had no power in this case. Diodorus Siculus tells us, lib. 4., that Darius, the last king of Persia, would have pardoned Charidemus after he was condemned to death, but could not reverse the law that had passed against him. We may observe the difference of style between this text and that of Esther 1:19. Here the words are, the law of the Medes and Persians, out of regard to the king, who was a Mede; there it is styled, the law of the Persians and Medes, the king being a Persian at that time: see Calmet and Lowth. Chardin says, that in Persia, when the king has condemned a person, it is no longer lawful to mention his name, or to intercede in his favour. Though the king were drunk, or beside himself, yet the decree must be executed; otherwise he would contradict himself, and the law admits of no contradiction. Wherefore King Darius signed the writing — It is not much to be wondered at that Darius, who seems to have been a weak man, should sign the decree, as it appeared to be proposed in order to do him the highest honour, and to set him, as it were, upon an equality with the gods.

6:6-10 To forbid prayer for thirty days, is, for so long, to rob God of all the tribute he has from man, and to rob man of all the comfort he has in God. Does not every man's heart direct him, when in want or distress, to call upon God? We could not live a day without God; and can men live thirty days without prayer? Yet it is to be feared that those who, without any decree forbidding them, present no hearty, serious petitions to God for more than thirty days together, are far more numerous than those who serve him continually, with humble, thankful hearts. Persecuting laws are always made on false pretences; but it does not become Christians to make bitter complaints, or to indulge in revilings. It is good to have hours for prayer. Daniel prayed openly and avowedly; and though a man of vast business, he did not think that would excuse him from daily exercises of devotion. How inexcusable are those who have but little to do in the world, yet will not do thus much for their souls! In trying times we must take heed, lest, under pretence of discretion, we are guilty of cowardice in the cause of God. All who throw away their souls, as those certainly do that live without prayer, even if it be to save their lives, at the end will be found to be fools. Nor did Daniel only pray, and not give thanks, cutting off some part of the service to make the time of danger shorter; but he performed the whole. In a word, the duty of prayer is founded upon the sufficiency of God as an almighty Creator and Redeemer, and upon our wants as sinful creatures. To Christ we must turn our eyes. Thither let the Christian look, thither let him pray, in this land of his captivity.All the presidents of the kingdom, the governor ... - Several functionaries are enumerated here who are not in the previous verses, as having entered into the conspiracy. It is possible, indeed, that all these different classes of officers had been consulted, and had concurred in asking the enactment of the proposed law; but it is much more probable that the leaders merely represented or affirmed what is here said in order to be more certain of the enactment of the law. If represented as proposed by all the officers of the realm, they appear to have conceived that there would be no hesitation on the part of Darius in granting the request. They could not but be conscious that it was an unusual request, and that it might appear unreasonable, and hence, they seem to have used every precaution to make the passing of the law certain.

Have consulted together to establish a royal statute - Or, that such a statute might be established. They knew that it could be established only by the king himself, but they were in the habit, doubtless, of recommending such laws as they supposed would be for the good of the realm.

And to make a firm decree - Margin, interdict. The word used (אסר 'ĕsâr - from אסר 'âsar - to bind, make fast) means, properly, a binding; then anything which is binding or obligatory - as a prohibition, an interdict, a law.

That whosoever shall ask - Any one of any rank. The real purpose was to involve Daniel in disgrace, but in order to do this it was necessary to make the prohibition universal - as Herod, in order to be sure that he had cut off the infant king of the Jews, was under a necessity of destroying all the children in the place.

Of any god or man - This would include all the gods acknowledged in Babylon, and all foreign divinities.

For thirty days - The object of this limitation of time was perhaps twofold:

(1) they would be sure to accomplish their purpose in regard to Daniel, for they understood his principles and habits so well that they had no doubt that within that three he would be found engaged in the worship of his God; and

(2) it would not do to make the law perpetual, and to make it binding longer than thirty days might expose them to the danger of popular tumults. It was easy enough to see that such a law could not be long enforced, yet they seem to have supposed that the people would acquiesce in it for so brief a period as one month. Unreasonable though it might be regarded, yet for so short a space of time it might be expected that it would be patiently submitted to.

Save of thee, O king - Perhaps either directly, or through some minister of the realm.

He shall be cast into the den of lions - The word "den" (גוב gôb) means, properly, a pit, or cistern; and the idea is that the den was underground, probably a cave constructed for that purpose. It was made with so narrow an entrance that it could be covered with a stone, and made perfectly secure, Daniel 6:17. "The enclosures of wild beasts," says Bertholdt, pp. 397, 398, "especially of lions," which the kings of Asia and of North-western Africa formerly had, as they have at the present day, were generally constructed underground, but were ordinarily caves which had been excavated for the purpose, wailed up at the sides, enclosed within a wall through which a door led from the outer wall to the space lying between the walls, within which persons could pass round and contemplate the wild beasts." "The emperor of Morocco says Host (Beschreibung von Marokos und Fess, p. 290, as quoted in Rosenmuller's Morgenland, in loc.), "has a cave for lions," - Lowengrube - into which men sometimes, and especially, Jews, are cast; but they commonly came up again uninjured, for the overseers of the lions are commonly Jews, and they have a sharp instrument in their hands, and with this they can pass among them, if they are careful to keep their faces toward the lions, for a lion will not allow one to turn his back to him.

The other Jews will not allow their brethren to remain longer in such a cave than one night, for the lions would be too hungry, but they redeem their brethren out of the cave by the payment of money - which, in fact, is the object of the emperor." In another place (p. 77), he describes one of these caves. "In one end of the enclosure is a place for ostriches and their young ones, and at the other end toward the mountain is a cave for lions, which stands in a large cavern in the earth that has a division wall, in the midst of which is a door, which the Jews who have the charge of the lions can open and close from above, and, by means of food, they entice the lions from one room into another, that they may have the opportunity of cleaning the cage. It is all under the open sky." Under what pretext the crafty counselors induced the king to ratify this statute is not stated. Some one or all of the following things may have induced the monarch to sign the decree:

(1) The law proposed was in a high degree flattering to the king, and he may have been ready at once to sign a decree which for the time gave him a supremacy over gods and men. If Alexander the Great desired to be adored as a god, then it is not improbable that a proud and weak Persian monarch would be willing to receive a similar tribute. Xerxes did things more foolish than what is here attributed to Darius. Instances of this are not wanting. Of Holofernes, in Judith 3:8, it is said that he "had decreed to destroy all the gods of the land, that all nations should worship Nabuchodonosor only, and that all tongues and tribes should call upon him as god."

(2) It may have occurred to him, or may have been suggested, that this was an effectual way to test the readiness of his subjects to obey and honor him. Some such test, it may have been urged, was not improper, and this would determine what was the spirit of obedience as well as any other.

(3) more probably, however, it may have been represented that there was some danger of insubordination, or some conspiracy among the people, and that it was necessary that the sovereign should issue some mandate which would at once and effectually quell it. It may have been urged that there was danger of a revolt, and that it would be an effectual way of preventing it to order that whoever should solicit any favor of anyone but the king should be punished, for this would bring all matters at once before him, and secure order. The haste and earnestness with which they urged their request would rather seem to imply that there was a representation that some sudden occasion had arisen which made the enactment of such a statute proper.


7. The Persian king was regarded as representative of the chief god, Ormuzd; the seven princes near him represented the seven Amshaspands before the throne of Ormuzd; hence Mordecai (Es 3:4) refused such homage to Haman, the king's prime minister, as inconsistent with what is due to God alone. A weak despot, like Darius, much under the control of his princes, might easily be persuaded that such a decree would test the obedience of the Chaldeans just conquered, and tame their proud spirits. So absolute is the king in the East, that he is regarded not merely as the ruler, but the owner, of the people.

All … governors … counsellors, &c.—Several functionaries are here specified, not mentioned in Da 6:4, 6. They evidently exaggerated the case of the weak king, as if their request was that of all the officers in the empire.

den of lions—an underground cave or pit, covered with a stone. It is an undesigned proof of genuineness, that the "fiery furnace" is not made the means of punishment here, as in Da 3:20; for the Persians were fire-worshippers, which the Babylonians were not.

No text from Poole on this verse.

All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains,.... There were but three presidents, and Daniel was one of them, so that these "all" were but "two"; they made the most of it they could; and very probably not all and everyone of the other officers mentioned were present; but they were willing to make their request appear as general as they could, in order that it might have the greater weight with the king:

have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree; that is, they had met together, and had drawn up a bill that might be passed into a law by having the royal assent, and be made sure and firm by the king's signing it; which is as follows:

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; by which law all invocation of their own gods was prohibited for a month, as well as of the living and true God; but this they stuck not at, provided they could gain their point against Daniel; and they were obliged to express it in this general way, to cover their designs; for had they mentioned a particular deity, as the God of the Jews, or the God of Daniel, their views would have been seen into by the king; and not only religious invocation is here forbidden, but all civil requests are prohibited: servants might not ask anything of their masters, nor children of their parents, nor wives of their husbands, nor one neighbour of another; for this seems not to be limited to asking any thing of a man worshipped as a god; though Saadiah says there were some in Darius's kingdom that believed in, worshipped, and prayed to a man; but all men are excluded, except Darius himself, of whom only anything was to be asked for thirty days; which was not only a deifying him, but exalting him above all gods and men; and suggesting as if it was in his power to answer all the exigencies of his subjects, and supply all their wants, many of which it was impossible for him to do. Josephus (c) mentions this law in a different manner; as if the design of it was to give the people an intermission from devotion for such a time, and that they were neither to pray to Darius, nor any of the gods, during it; whereas the exception is express, "save of thee, O king". The sanction or penalty of it is, casting into the den of lions; the king's den of lions, as Jarchi, where his lions were kept; as it is usual with princes: this very probably was a punishment common in the eastern nations, as casting the Christians to the lions was usual with the Romans.

(c) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 5.

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.
7. All the presidents] of course, with the exception of Daniel, who was one of them (Daniel 6:2). But the misrepresentation may be meant to be intentional, as though to lead the king to suppose that the proposal had Daniel’s approval.

the governors, and the princes, the counsellers and the captains] the praefects (Daniel 2:48), and the satraps, the ministers (Daniel 3:24), and the governors (Daniel 3:2). Cf. the enumeration of officials in Daniel 3:2-3; Daniel 3:27.

to establish a royal statute] Of course, indirectly,—by prevailing upon the king to take action. A.V. marg. ‘that the king should establish a statute, and make’ &c., expresses the meaning more distinctly; but it is a less natural rendering of the Aramaic.

and to make a firm decree] and to make a stringent interdict. ‘Interdict’ (so A.V. marg., and R.V.) is lit. a binding, or restraining; and almost the same word is used in Numbers 30:2-4, &c. of a restraining vow (A.V., R.V., ‘bond’). The passive partic. of the cognate verb is common in the Mishna in the sense of ‘prohibited.’

a petition] The meaning probably is, not any petition absolutely, but any petition of the nature of a prayer, or request addressed formally to a superior. The interdict has been deemed an incredible one; but some allowance must be made for what an oriental despot might prescribe in a freak of humour. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that the king should accede so readily to the proposal made to him, without either consulting the minister whose judgement he specially trusted (Daniel 6:3), or reflecting upon the difficulties in which it might involve him.

the den of lions] the reference is “to the custom which existed already among the Assyrians, and from them was passed on to the Persians, of keeping lions for the chase” (Bevan): cf. Ezekiel 19:9. The word rendered ‘den’ means properly a pit or dungeon: see the Targ. of Genesis 37:22; Jeremiah 38:6-7; and cf. Daniel 6:23 (‘taken up’), and Daniel 6:24, end.

Daniel 6:7מלוּתא סרכי כּל does not denote the three presidents named in v. 3((2), but all the prefects of the kingdom, of whom there were four classes, as is acknowledged by Chr. B. Michaelis, though Hitz. opposes this view. Such an interpretation is required by the genitive מלוּתא, and by the absence of כל, or at least of the copula ו, before the official names that follow; while the objection, that by this interpretation just the chief presidents who are principally concerned are omitted (Hitz.), is without foundation, for they are comprehended under the word סגניּא. If we compare the list of the four official classes here mentioned with that of the great officers of state under Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 3:2, the naming of the סגניּא before the אחשׁדּרפּניּא, satraps) (which in Daniel 3:2 they are named after them) shows that the סגניּא are here great officers to whom the satraps were subordinate, and that only the three סרכין could be meant to whom the satraps had to render an account. Moreover, the list of four names is divided by the copula וinto two classes. To the first class belong the סגניּא and the satraps; to the second the הדּברין, state councillors, and the פּחותא, civil prefects of the provinces. Accordingly, we will scarcely err of by סגניּא we understand the members of the highest council of state, by הדּבריּא the ministers or members of the (lower) state council, and by the satraps and pechas the military and civil rulers of the provinces. This grouping of the names confirms, consequently, the general interpretation of the מלוּתא סרכי כּל, for the four classes named constitute the entire chief prefecture of the kingdom. This interpretation is not made questionable by the fact that the סרכין had in the kingdom of Darius a different position from that they held in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar; for in this respect each kingdom had its own particular arrangement, which underwent manifold changes according to the times.

The infinitive clause וגו קים לקיּמא presents the conclusion arrived at by the consultation. מלכּא is not the genitive to קים, but according to the accents and the context is the subject of the infinitive clause: that the king should appoint a statute, not that a royal statute should be appointed. According to the analogy of the pronoun and of the dimin. noun, the accusative is placed before the subject-genitive, as e.g. Isaiah 20:1; Isaiah 5:24, so as not to separate from one another the קים קיּמא (to establish a statute) and the אסר תּקּפה (to make a firm decree). Daniel 6:9 requires this construction. It is the king who issues the decree, and not his chief officers of state, as would have been the case if מלכּא were construed as the genitive to קים ot evit. קים, manifesto, ordinance, command. The command is more accurately defined by the parallel clause אסר תּקּפה, to make fast, i.e., to decree a prohibition. The officers wished that the king should issue a decree which should contain a binding prohibition, i.e., it should forbid, on pain of death, any one for the space of thirty days, i.e., for a month, to offer any prayer to a god or man except to the king. בּעוּ is here not any kind of request or supplication, but prayer, as the phrase v. 14 (Daniel 6:13), בּעוּתהּ בּעא, directing his prayer, shows. The word ואנשׁ does not prove the contrary, for the heathen prayed also to men (cf. Daniel 2:46); and here the clause, except to the king, places together god and man, so that the king might not observe that the prohibition was specially directed against Daniel.

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