Daniel 9:1
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
IX.

(1) On Darius the Mede see Excursus D.

Was made king.—The phrase corresponds with “took the kingdom” (Daniel 5:31), and shows that Darius was not king by his own right, but that he received his authority from another—i.e., Cyrus.

Daniel 9:1-2. In the first year of Darius — That is, immediately after the overthrow of the kingdom of Babylon, which was the year of the Jews’ deliverance from captivity. This Darius was not Darius the Persian, under whom the temple was built, as some have asserted, to invalidate the credibility of this book; but Darius the Mede, who lived in the time of Daniel, and is called Cyaxares, the son of Astyages, by the heathen historians: see note on chap. Daniel 6:1. In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books, &c. — Namely, by the several prophecies of Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10, which are called so many books: see Jeremiah 25:13; Jeremiah 30:2. We may learn from hence, that the later prophets studied the writings of those prophets who were before them, especially for the more perfect understanding of the times when their prophecies were to be fulfilled. The same they did by several of their own prophecies. That he would accomplish seventy years, &c. — Concerning the time from whence these seventy years are to be dated, see note on Jeremiah 25:11-12. Daniel saw a part of Jeremiah’s prediction fulfilled, by the vengeance which the Lord had taken upon the house of Nebuchadnezzar; but he saw no appearance of that deliverance of the Jews which the prophet foretold. This was the cause of his uneasiness, and the motive of his prayers.9:1-3 Daniel learned from the books of the prophets, especially from Jeremiah, that the desolation of Jerusalem would continue seventy years, which were drawing to a close. God's promises are to encourage our prayers, not to make them needless; and when we see the performance of them approaching, we should more earnestly plead them with God.In the first year of Darius - See the notes at Daniel 5:31, and Introuction to Daniel 6 Section II. The king here referred to under this name was Cyaxares II, who lived between Astyages and Cyrus, and in whom was the title of king. He was the immediate successor of Belshazzar, and was the predecessor of Cyrus, and was the first of the foreign princes that reigned over Babylon. On the reasons why he is called in Daniel Darius, and not Cyaxares, see the Introduction to Daniel 6, Section II. Of course, as he preceded Cyrus, who gave the order to rebuild the temple Ezra 1:1, this occurred before the close of the seventy years of the captivity.

The son of Ahasuerus - Or the son of Astyages. See Introduction to Daniel 6 Section II. It was no unusual thing for the kings of the East to have several names, and one writer might refer to them under one name, and another under another.

Of the seed of the Medes - Of the race of the Medes. See as above.

Which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans - By conquest. He succeeded Belshazzar, and was the immediate predecessor of Cyrus. Cyaxares II ascended the throne of Media, according to the common chronology, 561 b.c. Babylon was taken by Cyrus, acting under the authority of Cyaxares, 538 b.c., and, of course, the reign of Cyaxares, or Darius, over Babylon commenced at that point, and that would be reckoned as the "first year" of his reign. He died 536 b.c., and Cyrus succeeded him; and as the order to rebuild the temple was in the first year of Cyrus, the time referred to in this chapter, when Daniel represents himself as meditating on the close of the captivity, and offering this prayer, cannot long have preceded that order. He had ascertained that the period of the captivity was near its close, and he naturally inquired in what way the restoration of the Jews to their own land was to be effected, and by what means the temple was to be rebuilt.

CHAPTER 9

Da 9:1-27. Daniel's Confession and Prayer for Jerusalem: Gabriel Comforts Him by the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.

The world powers here recede from view; Israel, and the salvation by Messiah promised to it, are the subject of revelation. Israel had naturally expected salvation at the end of the captivity. Daniel is therefore told, that, after the seventy years of the captivity, seventy times seven must elapse, and that even then Messiah would not come in glory as the Jews might through misunderstanding expect from the earlier prophets, but by dying would put away sin. This ninth chapter (Messianic prophecy) stands between the two visions of the Old Testament Antichrist, to comfort "the wise." In the interval between Antiochus and Christ, no further revelation was needed; therefore, as in the first part of the book, so in the second, Christ and Antichrist in connection are the theme.

1. first year of Darius—Cyaxares II, in whose name Cyrus, his nephew, son-in-law, and successor, took Babylon, 538 B.C. The date of this chapter is therefore 537 B.C., a year before Cyrus permitted the Jews to return from exile, and sixty-nine years after Daniel had been carried captive at the beginning of the captivity, 606 B.C.

son of Ahasuerus—called Astyages by Xenophon. Ahasuerus was a name common to many of the kings of Medo-Persia.

made king—The phrase implies that Darius owed the kingdom not to his own prowess, but to that of another, namely, Cyrus.Daniel, considering the time of the captivity, Daniel 9:1,2, maketh confession of his people’s sins, Daniel 9:3-15, and prayeth for the restoration of Jerusalem, Daniel 9:16-19. Gabriel informeth him of the seventy weeks, and of the time and death of the Messiah, and of the succeeding troubles, Daniel 9:20-27.

In the first year of Darius; that is, immediately after the overthrow of the kingdom of Babylon, which was also the year of the Jews’ deliverance from their seventy years’ captivity; therefore punctually here set down. The Lord hath carefully recorded the several periods of time that relate to his church, and the signal providences both of mercy or judgment exercised towards it; for hereby God is glorified in the signal displaying of his attributes, and the saints’ graces exercised, especially faith and patience, by calling to mind what God hath done in time past, Psalm 77:5-7. This Darius was not Darius the Persian, under whom the temple was built, as Porphyrius would have it, that thereby he might persuade unlearned men that Daniel lived long after the time that he did live in. Therefore this is called Darius the Mede, and by the Greeks called Cyaxares.

Which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; and this is confirmed by Xenophon.

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes,.... This is the same with Darius the Median, that took the kingdom after the death of Belshazzar; so called, to distinguish him from Darius the Persian; and yet Porphyry has the gall to assert that this was Darius the Persian, under whom the temple was built, that Daniel might appear to live later than he did: Ahasuerus, whose son he was, is not he that was the husband of Esther, and was many years later than this; but the same with Astyages king of the Medes, and who is called Ahasuerus, in the Apocrypha:

"But before he died he heard of the destruction of Nineve, which was taken by Nabuchodonosor and Assuerus: and before his death he rejoiced over Nineve.'' (Tobit 14:15)

the father of Cyaxares, the same with this Darius, who was uncle to Cyrus that conquered Babylon, and made him king of it, and of the whole empire; for this was not the first year of his reign over Media, where he had reigned many years before, but over Chaldea, as follows:

which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; by Cyrus his nephew; who having taken Babylon, and settled his affairs, undertook a journey to Persia, and made Media in his way; where he met with his uncle Cyaxares, the same with this Darius, and delivered the kingdom of Babylon to him, and married his daughter, with whom he had for her dowry the kingdom of Media, as Xenophon (y) relates. Now it was in the first year of his reign over the Chaldeans that Daniel had the following vision of the seventy weeks; which, according to Bishop Usher (z) and Mr. Whiston (a), was in the year of the world 3467 A.M. and 537 B.C. Dean Prideaux (b) places it in the year 538; and Mr. Bedford (c) in the year 536.

(y) Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 36. (z) Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3467. (a) Chronological Tables, cent. 10. (b) Connexion, &c. part 1. p. 125, 128. (c) Scripture Chronology, p. 711.

In the first year of Darius the son of {a} Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the {b} realm of the Chaldeans;

(a) Who was also called Astyages.

(b) For Cyrus led with ambition, and went about wars in other countries, and therefore Darius had the title of the kingdom, even though Cyrus was king in effect.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Darius] i.e. ‘Darius the Mede,’ Daniel 5:31 : cf. Daniel 6:1 ff. The date is fixed suitably: the first year after the conquest of Babylon would be a time when, in view of the promises of Jeremiah and the second Isaiah (e.g. Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:13), thoughts of restoration would naturally be stirring in the minds of the Jewish exiles.

the son of Ahasuerus] Ahasuerus,—properly ’Ǎchashwçrôsh, also in Ezra 4:6, and Esther, passim—is the Hebrew form of the Persian Khshayârshâ, the Greek Xerxes, called in contemporary Aramaic Chshiarsh (חשׁיארשׁ)[331]. Cf. p. liv, and on Daniel 5:31.

[331] See the writer’s Introduction, p. 512 (ed. 6, p. 546), note.

of the seed of the Medes] See Daniel 5:31. For the expression cf. Esther 6:13.

was made king] See on Daniel 5:31, ‘received the kingdom.’Verses 1-27. - THE SEVENTY WEEKS. This is the chapter of Daniel which has occasioned most controversy. It was appealed to by Tertullian and the early Fathers as a demonstration of the correctness of our Lord's claims to Messiahship. It is now received by critical commentators that to our Lord this prophecy cannot refer. Many treatises have been written on the "seventy weeks" of Daniel, and none of them have entirely cleared up the difficulties; indeed, it may be doubted whether all together they have illuminated the subject very much. Verses 1, 2. - In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord same to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. The version of the Septuagint goes on the assumption that the critics are correct in their belief that the author of Daniel imagined a Median Empire between the Babylonian and the Persian.

(1) In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes, of the seed of the Medes who, that is, the Medes - the LXX. seems to have read malkoo instead of homlak - "reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldeans.

(2) In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by the books the number of the years when the ordinance (πρόσταγμα) about the land was (revealed) to Jeremiah the prophet to accomplish seventy years to the fulfilment of the reproach of Jerusalem." Theodotion is closer to the Massoretic, only he does not seem to have read the hophal of "reign," but the kal. Further, Theodotion omits the second statement of the year of Darius, with which, both in the LXX. and in the Massoretic, the second verse begins. We have in Tertullian a few verses from this chapter in the Old Latin Version, called sometimes the Vetus. It coincides exactly with neither of the Greek Versions, nor with the Massoretic, but is in closer relationship with Theodotion. The Peshitta in the first agrees in the main with the Massoretic texf, but renders the second verse thus: "In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood in the book the number of years; I saw what was the ordinance of the number which Jeremiah the prophet had said concerning the completion of the desolation of Jerusalem - seventy years." Theodotion, the Vetus, the Peshitta, and also Jerome, neglect the fact that הָמְלַד (hom'lak) is hophal, and translate as if the word were kal. This neglect is due to the difficulty of understanding the semi-satrapial position occupied by Gobryas. He had regal powers given him to appoint satraps in the divisions of the province of Babylonia. Not improbably, further, be could fulfil certain sacred functions which customarily only a king could fulfil. This is the only case where the hophal of this verb occurs. Such a unique use of a verb must imply unique circumstances; such unique circumstances existed in the position of Gobryas in Babylon. Only a contemporary would have indicated this singular state of matters by the use of an out-of-the way portion of a verb without further explanation. It is singular that critics will not give the obvious meaning to the persistent indications that the author of this book gives, that he regards Darius, not as an independent sovereign, but as in some sort a vassal of a higher power, on whom he is dependent. Of the seed of the Medes. This statement naturally implies that while Darius was of Median descent, he was naturalized into some other race. In the first year of his reign. This phrase has the appearance of representing the original beginning of the narrative. Probably there were originally two recensions of this narrative, one of them beginning with the first verse, the other with some modification of the second verse which has been still further modified till it has reached its present form. The year indicated corresponds to B.C. 538, the year of the capture of Babylon, therefore sixty-eight years from the time that Daniel was carried captive. The period, then, which had been foretold by Jeremiah during which the Jews were to be captive and Jerusalem desolate, was drawing to a close. According to the critical assumption, that this date is to be reckoned from the captivity of Jehoiachin ( B.C. 598), there were yet ten years to run, and if it reckoned from the capture of Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah, there were twenty years. There is a certain dramatic suitability, if no more, in Daniel studying the prophecies of Jeremiah, with always growing eagerness as the time approached when God had promised release. I Daniel understood by books. The critical school have assumed that this phrase "books" applies, and must apply, to the canon; therefore it is concluded that this book was written after the formation of the canon, and therefore very late. Unforth-nately for the assumption brought forward, aephareem is by no means invariably used collectively for the books of the Bible, but K'thubim, e.g. Talmud Babli Shabbath (Mishna), p. 115a, was also used. Many of the cases where sephareem appears it is used distributively, not collectively; e.g. Talmud Babli Megillah (Mishna), p. 8b. From the fact that the same word was used for the third division of the canon, and for the books of the canon as a whole, there was liable to be a difficulty, and hence confusion. Traces of this we find in the prologue to the Greek Version of Ecclesiasticus. Thus in the first sentence the translator speaks of "the Law, the Prophets, and the others (τῶν ἄλλων)," as if τῶν βιβλίων were mentally supplied before νόμου. While sepher is used for any individual book of Scripture, and sephareem used for a group of these books, as the Books of Moses, it is not used for the Bible as a whole, just as in English we never call the Bible "the books," but not unfrequently "the Scriptures; "on the other hand, we speak of "the Books of Moses," never of the "Scriptures of Moses." If sephareem does not mean the canon, what does it mean? We know from Jeremiah 29:1 that Jeremiah sent to the exiles a "letter," and in that letter (ver. 10) it is said, "For thus saith the Lord, After seventy years be accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you in causing you to return to this place." It is true that this letter is called sepher in Jeremiah, but in 2 Kings 19:14 and Isaiah 37:14 we have sephareem the plural, used for a single letter. This is proved by the fact that in Isaiah all the suffixes referring to it are singular; in Kings one is in the plural by attraction, but the other is singular as in Isaiah. The correct rendering of the passage, then, is, "I Daniel understood by the letter the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet." It is clear that the reference in this verse is to Jeremiah's letter, for we have the use of יחוה, Jahw (Jehovah), which out of this chapter does not appear in this book; we have in this verse מַלִּאת, which we have in Jeremiah 29:10; it is vocalized as infinitive piel in Daniel, and infinitive kal in Jeremiah, but there is probably some error in Daniel. Another peculiarity which connects this passage with the "letter" of Jeremiah is the form the prophet's name assumes. In the rest of his prephecy it is usually called יִרְמְיָהוּ (Yir'myahoo); in the section of which the 'letter forms part, as in this verse in Daniel, he is called יִרְמְיָה (Yir'myah). It is thus clear that Daniel had in his mind Jeremiah's "letter;" hence it is far-fetched to imagine that he claims acquaintance with all the books of the Hebrew canon, in order to know the contents of a letter. Even a falsarius of the most ignorant sort would scarcely fail to avoid the blunder attributed to the author of Daniel by critics. How do the critics harmonize their explanation of this verse with their theory that the canon closed in B.C. 105, while Daniel was written in the year B.C. 168. It would be as impossible for an author to speak of the canon in terms which denote it being long fixed, sixty years before it was actually collected, as four hundred years. The impossible has no degrees. That he would accomplish seventy years. That seventy years would fulfil the period of desolation to Jerusalem. It is to be noted that the word translated here "accomplish" occurs in Jeremiah's letter in regard to this very period (Jeremiah 29:10). The word for "desolations" is connected by Furst with "drought;" it is also connected with the word for "a sword." The date at which the vision related in the chapter was given was, as we have seen, shortly after the fall of Babylon. The period set by God, if we date from Daniel's own captivity, was rapidly nearing its conclusion. As yet Cyrus had given no sign that he was about to treat the Jews differently from the other nations. The King of Ansan had declared himself - whether from faith or policy we cannot tell - a fervent worshipper of Merodach and the other gods of Babylon: would he not be prone to pursue the policy of the kings of Babylon, whose successor he claimed to be? He had certainly ordered the return to the various cities of the images of those gods which had been brought to Babylon by Nabunahid, but there was no word of the return of the captives of Zion. Would Jehovah be true to his promise or not? Like believers in every age, Daniel takes refuge in prayer. (Daniel 4:1)

With Daniel 4:1 (v. 4) Nebuchadnezzar begins the narration of his wonderful experience. When he was at rest in his palace and prospering, he had a dream as he lay upon his bed which made him afraid and perplexed. שׁלה, quiet, in undisturbed, secure prosperity. רענן, properly growing green, of the fresh, vigorous growth of a tree, to which the happiness and prosperity of men are often compared; e.g., in Psalm 52:10 (8), Psalm 92:12 (10). Here plainly the word is chosen with reference to the tree which had been seen in the dream. From this description of his prosperity it appears that after his victories Nebuchadnezzar enjoyed the fruit of his exploits, was firmly established on his throne, and, as appears from v. 26 (Daniel 4:29)f., a year after his dream could look with pleasure and pride on the completion of his splendid buildings in Babylon; and therefore this event belongs to the last half of his reign.

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