Daniel 6:8
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.
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(8) Sign the writing.—Literally, record the decree, so that there might be no possibility of its being recalled. (Comp. Esther 8:8.)

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.Now, O king, establish the decree - Ordain, enact, confirm it.

And sign the writing - An act necessary to make it the law of the realm.

That it be not changed - That, having the sign-manual of the sovereign, it might be so confirmed that it could not be changed. With that sign it became so established, it seems, that even the sovereign himself could not change it.

According to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not - Margin, Passeth. Which does not pass away; which is not abrogated. A similar fact in regard to a law of the Medes and Persians is mentioned in Esther 8. in which the king was unable to recall an order which had been given for the massacre of the Jews, and in which he attempted only to counteract it as far as possible by putting the Jews on their guard, and allowing them to defend themselves. Diodorus Siculus (lib. iv.) refers to this custom where he says that Darius, the last king of Persia, would have pardoned Charidemus after he was condemned to death, but could not reverse what the law had passed against him. - Lowth. "When the king of Persia," says Montesquieu (Spirit of Laws, as quoted by Rosenmuller, Morgenland, in loc.), "has condemned any one to death, no one dares speak to him to make intercession for him. Were he even drunk when the crime was committed, or were he insane, the command must nevertheless be executed, for the law cannot be countermanded, and the laws cannot contradict themselves. This sentiment prevails throughout Persia." It may seem singular that such a custom prevailed, and that the king, who was the fountain of law, and whose will was law, could not change a statute at his pleasure.

But this custom grew out of the opinions which prevailed in the East in regard to the monarch. His will was absolute, and it was a part of the system which prevailed then to exalt the monarch, and leave the impression on the mind of the people that he was more than a man - that he was infallible, and could not err. Nothing was better adapted to keep up that impression than an established principle of this kind - that a law once ordained could not be repealed or changed. To do this would be a practical acknowledgment that there was a defect in the law; that there was a want of wisdom in ordaining it; that all the circumstances were not foreseen; and that the king was liable to be deceived and to err. With all the disadvantages attending such a custom, it was judged better to maintain it than to allow that the monarch could err, and hence, when a law was ordained it became fixed and unchanging.

Even the king himself could not alter it, and, whatever might be the consequences, it was to be executed. It is evident, however, that such a custom might have some advantages. It would serve to prevent hasty legislation, and to give stability to the government by its being known what the laws were, thus avoiding the evils which result when they are frequently changed. It is often preferable to have permanent laws, though not the best that could be framed, than those which would be better, if there were no stability. There is only one Being, however, whose laws can be safely unchanging - and that is God, for his laws are formed with a full knowledge of all the relations of things, and of their bearing on all future circumstances and times. It serves to confirm the statement here made respecting the ancient custom in Media and Persia, that the same idea of the inviolability of the royal word has remained, in a mitigated form, to modern times.

A remarkable example of this is related by Sir John Malcolm, of Aga Mohammed Khan, the last but one of the Persian kings. After alluding to the present case, and that in Esther, he observes, "The character of the power of the king of Persia has undergone no change. The late king, Aga Mohammed Khan, when encamped near Shiraz, said that he would not move until the snow was off the mountains in the vicinity of his camp. The season proved severe, and the snow remained longer than was expected; the army began to suffer distress and sickness, but the king said while the snow remained upon the mountain, he would not move; and his word was as law, and could not be broken. A multitude of laborers were collected and sent to remove the snow; their efforts, and a few fine days, cleared the mountains, and Aga Mohammed Khan marched." - History of Persia, i. 268, quoted in the Pict. Bible, in loc.

8. decree—or, "interdict."

that it be not changed—(Es 1:19; 8:8). This immutability of the king's commands was peculiar to the Medes and Persians: it was due to their regarding him infallible as the representative of Ormuzd; it was not so among the Babylonians.

Medes and Persians—The order of the names is an undesigned mark of genuineness. Cyrus the Persian reigned subordinate to Darius the Mede as to dignity, though exercising more real power. After Darius' death, the order is "the Persians and Medes" (Es 1:14, 19, &c.).

No text from Poole on this verse.

Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing,.... For they had not only agreed upon it among themselves what to propose, as to the substance of it; but they had drawn it up in writing, ready to be signed, which they urge to have done immediately:

that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not; when once signed by the king: mention being made of both the Medes and Persians, shows that these two nations were now united in one government; that Darius and Cyrus were partners in the empire; and it is easy to account for it why the Medes are mentioned first; because Darius was the Mede, and Cyrus the Persian; the one the uncle, the other the nephew; but afterwards, when a Persian only was on the throne, then the Persian is mentioned first, Esther 1:19.

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.
8. decree] interdict.

altereth not] lit. passeth not away. On the unalterableness of the edicts of a Persian king, cf. Esther 1:19 (‘let it be written among the laws of the Persians and Medes, that it pass not away’), Daniel 8:8 (a royal edict, properly signed and sealed, ‘may no man reverse’).

Daniel 6:8In order that they may more certainly gain their object, they request the king to put the prohibition into writing, so that it might not be changed, i.e., might not be set aside or recalled, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, in conformity with which an edict once emitted by the king in all due form, i.e., given in writing and sealed with the king's seal, was unchangeable; cf. Daniel 6:15 and Esther 8:8; Esther 1:19. תעדּא לא דּי, which cannot pass away, i.e., cannot be set aside, is irrevocable. The relative דּי refers to דּת, by which we are not to understand, with v. Lengerke, the entire national law of the Medes and Persians, as if this were so unalterable that no law could be disannulled or changed according to circumstances, but דּת is every separate edict of the king emitted in the form of law. This remains unchangeable and irrevocable, because the king was regarded and honoured as the incarnation of deity, who is unerring and cannot change.
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