Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Baltassar. He is believed to be the same as Nabonides, the last of the Chaldean kings, grandson to Nabuchodonosor. He is called his son (ver. 2, 11, &c.) according to the style of the Scriptures, because he was a descendant from him. (Challoner; St. Jerome in Isaiah xiii.; Usher, &c.) --- Some think that he was brother of Evilmerodac. (ver. 11.; Baruch i. 11.) But he seems rather to have been his son. (Jeremias xxvii. 7.) Profane authors place Neriglissor and Laborosoarchod between them. They were not of the royal family, and might be looked upon as usurpers, or reigned in some other place; or they did not meddle with the Jews. (Calmet) --- It is wonderful that Josephus should prefer these authors; (Tirinus) yet he abandons the dates given by them. (Antiquities x. 12. & c. Ap. 1.) They represent Nabonides as a simple Babylonian raised to the throne, defeated by Cyrus, and suffered to retire into Carmania; whereas, Baltassar was slain. (ver. 29.) (Calmet) --- The others were of a different lineage, and are mentioned by Eus.[Eusebius,] &c. Evilmerodac certainly preceded him on the throne, and honoured Joachim in the 37th years of his captivity. (Worthington) --- Thousand; or, "for his officers over a thousand men." (Theodot.) --- Every. Chaldee: "and drank wine before the thousand," more than any, for this was deemed a great perfection; or he drank in their presence, but apart. (Calmet) --- The Persian monarchs used to sit in a separate apartment, with a veil before the door, so that they could see the guests without being seen. A great chandelier was before them; (Atheneus iv. 10.) probably on the outside, otherwise it would have defeated their purpose. Light sufficient would appear for Baltassar to see the hand-writing on his chamber wall. (ver. 5.) (Haydock) --- According to the order of time, this chapter should be placed after the vii. and viii. (Calmet) --- But those contain visions. (Haydock)
Loosed, so that he quaked for fear. (Ezechiel xxix. 7.) (Calmet) --- He was not so drunk as to be deprived of sense. (Haydock) --- This happened in the 17th and last year of his reign, when Daniel was about a hundred years old, (Worthington) though we have no certain account of his age. (Haydock) --- He might be eighty-two when he died. (Calmet)
Purple. This and the chain were reserved for the highest nobility. --- Third, or one of the three great officers. (Chap. vi. 1. and 2 Kings xxiii. 8. 19.)
Read. It was written in Samaritan characters; or, for want of vowels, could not be read or understood. (Calmet)
The queen. Not his wife, but the mother of the king; (Challoner) Amyit, widow of Nabuchodonosor, and sister of Darius, the Mede; or (Calmet) Nitocris, the mother of Labynithus, (Herod. i.) whom many confound with Baltassar. (Calmet)
Father. So a grandfather might be styled. (Jeremias xxvii. 7.) (Worthington) ---Daniel was not perhaps at the head of the wise men. (Calmet) --- They were too jealous to mention him; and the intoxicated king and courtiers remembered not his merit, till an aged matron suggested that he should be consulted. He was probably (Haydock) in some office, at Susa, yet happened to be then in Babylon, (Calmet) which was besieged; and thither he might have retired at the approached of Cyrus.
Difficult. Literally, "things which are tied," or perplexing. (Haydock) --- The Persians still used the like expressions, to imply an intelligent governor. (Chardin.)
Another. He does not refuse the offers, but civilly replies that he will give satisfaction without regard to any recompense.
Slew. He was an absolute monarch, and considered his subjects as so many slaves. (Calmet) --- Xerxes having called together his nobles, that he might not seem to have resolved on the war with Greece alone, said: "Nevertheless, remember that you have to obey rather than to advise." (V. Max. 9. 5. 2.)
Beasts. His disordered imagination made him dwell with them. (Worthington) --- It is strange that such an example should have been so soon forgotten, that Daniel is forced to repeat it so explicitly. (Chap. iv. 13.)
Vessels. Only part had been returned to Sedecias: (Chap. i. 2.) but they were taken again, and kept in the palace, or in the temple of Bel. (Haydock) --- Breath, or soul. (Genesis ii. 7.) (Calmet)
Phares. These words consist of three letters, mona, thokol, pros, as we add o merely for pronunciation. Being unconnected and almost destitute of vowels, (Haydock) it is not easy even for the learned to read these words, or to ascertain their meaning. Thus d b r being placed in a similar situation, it would be impossible to determine the sense; as it may have ten different meanings, according as it is pronounced. (ver. 8. ) (Calmet) --- Mane is twice repeated, to shew the certainty and exactitude of the numbering. (Menochius) --- Yet in the sequel each word occurs once and unconnected, as it is here in the Vulgate; not Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin, (Protestant; Haydock) "He hath numbered, weighed, and the dividers or the Persians" are upon thee, (T. [Tirinus?]) as Dalila said to Samson. Only three words (Haydock) were written. (St. Jerome) --- The rest contain the prophet's explanation. The Chaldean empire had now attained its utmost height. Its king brought ruin upon himself by his wicked life. (Haydock) --- He would soon be divided with the sword, and his kingdom shared between the Medes and Persians. (St. Jerome)
Persians. Those who confound Baltassar with Nabonides, say that Cyrus made himself master of all the empire. How then was it divided? Darius rather took possession of the greatest part while Cyrus had Persia, (Calmet) till his uncle's death. (Haydock)
Third, or over a third part. (St. Jerome; ver. 7.; Haydock) The honours wee conferred without delay, and they would have been made public in the morning. But death prevented the king; and Daniel did not enjoy them till they were ratified by Darius, to whom he adhered. (Calmet) --- The Medes then besieged the city, which they took that night, when most part were drunk. (Worthington) --- It was a solemn festival. (Isaiah xxi.) (St. Jerome) --- Cyrus rushed in by the channel of the Euphrates, and two of the king's guards slew him to revenge themselves. (Xenoph. 7.;Berosus)
Darius. He is called Cyaxares by the historians, and was the son of Astyages, and uncle to Cyrus (Challoner) as well as to Baltassar, by the mother's side. He is styled Astyages, (Chap. xiii. 65.) or Artaxerxes. (Septuagint Chap. vi. 1.) He takes the title of king both of the Medes and Persians. (Chap. vi. 8. &c.) (Calmet)