Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
Verses 1-31. - BELSHAZZAR'S FEAST. In regard to this chapter the peculiar state of the Septuagint text has to be noted. At the beginning of the chapter there are three verses which seem to be either variant versions of the Septuagint text, or versions of a text which was different from that from which the Septuagint has been drawn. Throughout the chapter, further, there are traces of doublets. Most of these variations occur in the Syriac of Paulus Tellensis. Verse 1. - Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. As we have just indicated, there are two versions in the Septuagint of several verses in this chapter, and the verse before us is one of these. The first of these is "Baltasar the king made a great feast on the day of the dedication of his palace, and invited from his lords two thousand men." The other reading, which appears to have formed the text, is, "Baltasar the king made a great feast for his companions." The first version seems to have read the dual instead of the singular - a proof of the state of the language, for the dual has practically disappeared in the Targums. The second version has evidently read הברין instead of רברבין. Theodotion reads, "Baltasar the king made a great feast to thousands of his lords, and drank wine before the thousands." The Peshitta agrees with the Massoretic text. The numeral is thus omitted in the text of the Septuagint,inserted in the dual in the margin, and appears in Theodotion in the plural. As the shortest text is also the oldest, and omits the numeral, we feel inclined to do so also, the more so as the numeral may have resulted from אַעּלּפ (aluph) being put as the interpretation of רברב (rabrab). The clause in the marginal version, "on the day of the dedication of his palace," or, as it is rendered by Paulus Telleusis, "in the day of the dedication of the house of his kingdom," is worthy of notice. From the fact that early in his reign every Ninevite king seems to have begun a palace, this statement has a great deal of verisimilitude. The clause in the Massoretic text, "and drank wine before the thousand," is meaningless, unless as a rhetorical amplification. From the fact that only the first clause appears in the text of the Septuagint, the authenticity of the rest of the verse is rendered doubtful; the more so that קובלא () means "a feast" in Eastern Aramaic, though not in Western. It is a possible solution of the presence of the clause that קבל, excluded from the text and its place supplied by לחם, was placed in the margin. לקבל, however, means "before." If there was also in the margin אלפא, "thousands," in the emphatic state; as the translation into Hebrew of רברב (Genesis 36:17, 15 Onkelos). If, further, חברין, "companion," appeared as a various reading for רברבין, that would easily be read חמר, "wine;" the verb "to drink" would be added to complete the sense. We have thus all the elements to produce the different versions of the story of the feast. The fact that in what we regard as the marginal reading the clause appears quite differently rendered, confirms us in our suspicion that the Massoretic text presents a case of a "doublet." The reading which begins the chapter in the LXX. may be due to regarding קבל as the verb "to receive." The name Belshazzar has been the occasion of much controversy. It was regarded as one of the proofs of the non-historicity of Daniel that this name occurred at all (as Bertholdt). We were told that the last King of Babylon was Nabunahid, not Belshazzar. The name, however, has turned up in the Mugheir inscription as the son of Nabunahid, and not only so, but in a connection that implies he was associated in the government. From the annals of Nabunahid (2 col.; vide ' Beitrage zur As-syriologie,' Delitzsch and Haupt, 1891-92, pp. 218-221) we find that from his seventh to his eleventh year, if not from an earlier to a later date, Nabunahid was in retirement in Tema, and "came not to Babil," and the king's son (Mar Sarri) was with the nobles (rabuti) snd the army. Even when the king's mother died, the mourning was carried on by the king's sou, Belshazzar. Dr. Hugo Winckler ('Geschichte Babyloniens u. Assuriens,' pp. 315, 316) says Nabunahid remained intentionally far from the capital, and abode continually in Tema, a city otherwise unknown. Not once at the new year's feast, where his personal presence was indispensable, did he come to Babylon. What occasioned it, we know not; but it appears as if he had devoted himself to some kind of solitary life, and would not disturb himself with the business of government. Not once while Cyrus was marching against Babylon did he rouse himself, but allowed things to take their course. The government appears to have been carried on by his son, Bel-shar-utzur, for while Nabunahid lived in Tema in retirement, it is mentioned that his son, with the dignitaries, managed affairs in Babylon, and commanded the army. Also in several inscriptions in the concluding prayer, he is named along with his father, while it is usually the name of the king that is there mentioned. Belshazzar is, then, no mere luxurious despot, like the Nabeandel of Josephus, no incapable youth flushed with the unexpected dignity of government in the city of Babylon, while his father was shut up in Borsippa; he is a bold capable warrior. Tyrannical and imperious he may be, yet faithful to his father, as had Nebuchadnezzar been to Nabopolassar his father. We need not even look at the identifications of Belshazzar with Evil-Merodach, with Labasi-marduk, or with Nabunahid. The name Bel-shar-utzur means "Bel protects the king," and is rendered in the Greek versions "Baltasar," and in the Vulgate "Baltassar," and identical with the name given to Daniel, as we have remarked elsewhere. In the Peshitta the name here is rendered "Belit-shazar," while Daniel's Babylonian name is "Beletshazzar." We do not know when this feast took place. If we take the Septuagint text here as our guide, it did not take place at the capture of the city by Cyrus. If for five, six, or seven years he was practically king, Belshazzar may have built a palace, and the feast may have been held at its dedication. We knew that the Babylonians were notorious for their banquets - banquets that not infrcquently ended in drunkenness. Although the number of the guests is doubtful from diplomatic reasons, the number itself is not excessive. We read of Alexander the Great having ten thousand guests.
Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.
Verse 2. - Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. The Septuagint has included the last clause of the Massoretic recension of the first verse, "And he drank wine, and his heart was lifted up, and he commanded to bring the vessels of gold and of silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar his father had brought from Jerusalem, and to pour out wine in them for those companions of his (ἐν αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἑταίροις)." The translator seems to have regarded the first syllable of the name Belshazzar as a separate word, and has translated it according to the meaning the word has in Eastern Aramaic, "heart" (Exodus 12:23, Peshitta). After this initial mistake - if mistake it was - the remaining change was easy. The syntax here, according to the Massoretic text, is different from what we should expect. אמר ('amar), "to say," is translated "command" in eight cases in this book, and in every other case it is followed immediately by the infinitive' of the action commanded. Hence we are inclined, with the LXX., to omit "whiles he tasted the wine." While the LXX. Aramaic seems to have בהין, "in them," it has not had "king," "wives," or "concubines." As the Septuagint is the shorter, on the whole, we prefer it, though we maintain the Massoretic reading of "in them," referring to the vessels. Theodotion and the Peshitta follow the Massoretic reading. Whether or not the libation offered to the gods was in the mind of the writer, the mere fact that the sacred vessels were used for the purposes of a common feast was desecration. The addition of the "wives" and "concubines" adds at once to the degradation in the eyes of an Eastern, and to the stately rhetorical cadence of the verse. This renders all the stronger the suspicion engendered by the omission of these features in the Septuagint. It is to be observed that the Septuagint translator must have had an Eastern Aramaic manuscript before him, or he could never have translated bal "heart." At the same time, the presence of women at Babylonian feasts was not so uncommon as it was in the rest of the East, as we learn from the Ninevite remains. Certainly Quintus Curtius mentions this in connection with Alexander's visit to Babylon (v. 1). But was an obscure Jew likely to know this in Palestine? It is very difficult for a person writing in a different age to keep strictly to verisimilitude in these matters. Even a contemporary may make a blunder in writing, not a novel, but a biography, as Froude, in his 'Life of Carlyle,' declares he was "quietly married in the parish church of Temple." To be quietly married in a parish church in any part of Scotland, in the early years of this century, would be a contradiction in terms. Yet Froude had often been in Scotland, and knew Carlyle well. Could a Jew living in Palestine have all his wits about him so as to note every varying feature which distinguished the habits of Babylon from those of the rest of the East? The question may be asked why were the vessels of the Lord in Jerusalem singled out to be desecrated by a common use? It might, of course, be that the sacred vessels of the temples of the gods of all conquered nationalities were brought in, and thus that the singling out of the Jewish sacred vessels was due, not to the preference of the Babylonian monarch, but to the Jew, who saw only those. We think this can scarcely be. It was certainly the policy of Nabunahid to draw all worship to Babylon (Annals of Nabunahid, col. 3. line 20, "The gods of Akkad, which Nabunabid had brought to Babylon, were carried back to their city"). But this would lead him to avoid anything that would savour of disrespect to these gods whom he had brought to dwell in Babylon. We do not think it would have been merely the beauty of those vessels that led to their desecration, for the temple at Jerusalem had suffered several plunderings before the capture of the city, and the period between the age of Hezekiah and Zedekiah was not one in which wealth and artistic talent were likely to increase. Some suspicion must have reached the court of Babylon that the Jews were in league with Cyrus; perhaps the contents of the second Isaiah had reached the knowledge of the Babylonian police. If so, the act of Belshazzar was an act of defiance against Jehovah of Israel.
Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
Verses 3, 4. - Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. The corresponding verses in the Septuagint differ in several points from those above; the Septuagint third verse contains, condensed, the Massoretic third and fourth verses, but adds new matter in its fourth verse: "(3) And they were brought, and they drank in them, and blessed their idols made with hands; (4) and the God the eternal, who hath dominion over their spirit ('breath,' πνεῦμα), they did not bless." In the introductory portion, which contains, as we think, marginal readings, we have the second and fourth verses brought into connection, "In that day Baltasar, being uplifted with wine, and boasting himself, praised in his drink all the gods of the nations, the molten and the carved, but to God the Highest he gave not praise." The reading of the latter portion of this seems better than the text, as it is briefer; the description of God as he that has power "over their breath," is a preparation for what we find in ver. 23, "and thy breath is in his hand." Theodotion is, as usual, much nearer the Massoretic text, but while the Massoretic only mentions the "golden" vessels being brought, Theodotion mentions the silver also, and the verb hanpiqoo is translated singular, as if it were hanpayq, and "Nebuchadnezzar" understood. A various reading adds, "and the God of eternity, who hath power of their breath, did they not bless," according to the Alexandrine and Vatican codices. In both these cases Jerome follows Theodotion. The Peshitta agrees only in the latter, putting the verb in the singular. Modern translators, as Luther and Ewald, the Authorized and Revised English Versions, retain the plural, but make the verb passive, as if it were written honpaqoo. Calvin alone preserves both number and voice. The French Version, which makes it impersonal, is probably as good as any. It is, however, not impossible that the true reading is huphal; that seems better than Calvin's suggestion, that what Nebuchadnezzar had done is now transferred to all the Babylonians. The praises of the gods being sung was especially natural, if this were a dedication of a palace. In such a case the various elemental deities would be invoked to bless the residence of the king. The fact that the vessels belonging to the temple of the God of the Jews were brought forward from the treasury of Bel would afford an occasion for praising Bel, the god who had given them the victory. While they praised these god, of the nations, they did not even mention Jehovah - an addition in the text of Theodotion and the LXX., both text and margin, and therefore one that, we think, ought, in some form, to lie in the text. It is singular that in the Cyrus Cylinder, 17, the overthrow of Nabunahid is attributed to Marduk, "whom Nabunahid did not fear." The reason of Belshazzar thus ostentatiously praising the gods might be to get over the reputation of unfaithfulness to the gods, which was weakening them, father and son, in their struggle with Cyrus. Belshazzar most likely was, at this very time, carrying on war against Cyrus. The object of this festive gathering of his nobles might be to hearten them in their struggle against the King of Persia.
They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Verse 5. - In the same hour oame forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. The two versions given in the Septuagint here do not seriously differ from each other or from the Massoretic text, only that they both omit "the part of," and represent the king as seeing the hand. Theodotion has ἀστραγάλους, which maybe rendered "finger-joints;" otherwise this version is very like both the Massoretic and the LXX. The Peshitta presents no point of remark. The word translated "lamp" (nebhrashta) became in Talmudic times the equivalent of menoorah, "the golden candlestick." From this it has been supposed that "the candlestick" was the golden candlestick which later proved the crowining glory of Titus's triumph, and is still to be seen carved on his arch. When the other vessels of the house of the Lord were brought to deck the table of the monarch, it would not be unnatural that the golden candlestick should also be brought. In the great hall in which a thousand guests were accommodated, more lamps than one would be required. The Septuagint (text) adds, "over against the king:" this would individualize the lamp referred to; but there does not seem to be any support for this reading, which may be due to the desire to explain the satatus emphaticus. Gesenius derives the word נֶבְרַשְׁתָּא from נור, "light," and אש, "flame." As ו as a consonant was unused in Assyrian, this derivation is by no means impossible We know that the Ninevite monarchs surrounded the great halls of their palaces with bas-reliefs of their victories. The remains of Babylon have not given us anything like the gypsum slabs of Kouyounjik. Yet the Babylonian monarchs not unlikely followed the same praetices as those of Nineveh. The walls were built and plastered, and then the slabs were moved up to them. In the case of Belshazzar, the palace walls might well be fresh; no gypsum slabs had yet recorded his prowess. As he looks to the white plaster, the fingers of a hand come out of the darkness, and write opposite him. "The king," thus it is in the Massoretic text, saw the "part" of the hand that wrote. Pas is the word. Furst renders it "wrist;" Gesenius, "the extremity;" Winer, vola manus," the hollow of the baud;" with this Buxtorf agrees. The balance of meanings seems to be in favour of "hollow of the hand," only it is difficult to understand the position of the hand relatively to the king when he saw the hollow of the hand. The smoke from the numerous lamps would obscure the roof of the hall of the palace; however numerous the lamps, their light would be unable to pierce the darkness, so out of the darkness came the hand.
Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
Verse 6. - Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. The Septuagint differs in a somewhat important degree from the Massoretic text, "And his countenance was changed, and fears and thoughts troubled him." In this clause not improbably φόβοι and ὑπόνοιαι are double renderings of רעין. "And the king hasted and rose up, and looked at that writing, and his companions round about him (κύκλῳ αὐτοῦ) boasted." It is clear that the text from which the Septuagint had repeated the verb בֶהַל (bebal), which means originally "to hasten," and had the word "king "after it, if the Septuagint Aramaic were the original, we can easily understand how the word repeated might be omitted by bomoioteleutoa. While קם could easily be read קט after the square character had got place, קמ could not in the script of the Egyptian Aramaic papyri be easily read קם. consequently we are inclined to look on the reading of the Septuagint here as being the primitive one. The king, according to this verse, saw the handwriting, but not till he rose did he see what was written. This representation of the succession of events is natural, whereas the statements about his loins being loosed is mere amplification. The last clause storms to be a misreading of the clause which appears in the Massoretic at the end (which see). The first word seems to have been misread heberren, and thus a meaning is violently given to the other parts of the clause. The probability is in favour of the Massoretic reading here, Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. The omen of a hand appearing to write on the wall of the palace was one that might easily cause the thoughts of the king to trouble him. Much more was the omen of importance when the king saw that the hand which had appeared to write had actually left certain words written. It was but natural that the brightness of the king's countenance should depart from him when he saw the hand. thus awfully coming out of the darkness, and writing, and that his knees should smite one upon another when what was written gleamed upon him from the wall before him. He might well be sure that the message so communicated would be laden with fate. Fear is naturally the first emotion occasioned by any mysterious occurrence; and then Babylon was, in all likelihood, being pressed by the advance of Cyrus. If he had any suspicion of the treachery that had sapped the power of his father, his apprehensions would be all the greater.
The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Verse 7. - The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. The Septuagint here also differs from the Massoretic text, "And the king cried out with a great cry to call in the enchanters (ἐπαοιδοὐς) and sorcerers (φαρμακοὺς), and Chaldeans, and soothsayers, to announce to him the interpretation of the writing, and they came in for inspection (ἐπὶ θεωρίαν), to see the writing, And they were not able to make known to the king the interpretation of the writing. Then the king made commandment, saying, Any man who shall show the interpretation of the writing, he shall put on him a purple robe, and shall put round his neck a golden chain, and authority shall be given him over a third part of the kingdom." Theodotion is an exact rendering of the Massoretic text in the sense represented by the English versions, save that it wholly omits the conjunctions between the various classes of wise men, so that Ξαλδαίους might be an adjective qualifying either μάγους or γαξαρηνούς, and the article is also omitted, which is represented in the Massoretic text by the status emphaticus. The Peshitta has four classes of wise men called in; as the Septuagint has, otherwise it agrees with the Massoretic text. It is a matter of some interest to observe that the position of the Chaldeans is somewhat precarious here, as in the second chapter. They disappear wholly from the list in the next verse, which really seems to be another version of this. It is a marginal gloss that has crept into the text. If we accept the reading of the Septuagint here, so far at least as to assume the entrance of the wise men before the king's declaration of the reward, the succession of events becomes more natural. The king calls for the presence of these interpreters of omens, and then, when they fail to interpret the writing to him, he proclaims his offer of a reward to whoever can do so. It is to be noted that there is in the Septuagint no question of ability to read the writing, but simply to interpret it. It has been pointed out to me by a friend that if these words were written in cuneiform, the signs that would represent them might have a great variety of possible sounds, and with these differing sounds, differing meanings. Sometimes a sign was phonetic and a syllable, sometimes it was idiographic and might represent a whole word. There is this to be said for this view - the Assyrian was the writing expected in inscriptions. Still, from the fact that the Septuagint omits the demand that the inscription should be read, we may regard the matter as doubtful. Assuming that the wise men were required to read the inscription, some of the Jewish interpreters, as Jephet-ibn-Ali, think that the letters of the word were inverted; others have it that the letters were arranged in columns. Even, however, if the words were written correctly enough as Aramaic words, it would be a difficult matter to put any meaning in them as they stood, as we shall see when we consider Daniel's interpretation. The reward promised is of special interest. The word argvana, translated "scarlet," appears in Assyrian as argmamm; hamneeka, the word rendered "necklace," is of doubtful origin. We find in the Ninevite sculptures and on the cylinders from Babylon many instances of splendid robes (vide Rawlinson, 'Five Great Monarchies,' 560); the rich necklace is also to be seen (ibid., 2. 497,499). The great difficulty has arisen over the rank given to Daniel, "the third ruler in the kingdom." The difficulty is that the ordinal here is not in its usual form, although Petermann gives taltu as one of the forms of the ordinal. There is, further, the unusual position of the numeral in relation to the verb, though the abnormality is less than Professor Bevan represents it, as the Peshitta follows word for word the arrangement of the Massoretic text. The truth seems to be that the word really was toolta, as in the Syriac, and the difficulty has risen in not recognizing the transference from one dialect of Aramaic to another. It is used in the Peshitta (2 Corinthians 10:2) of the third heaven. Professor Bevan's interpretation, that it means "every third day,') may be dismissed as absurd. Ewald (in loc.) regards the title as one of a board of three - not an in,possible meaning, in the light of what we find in the following chapter. Yet his reasoning, that it cannot be third in rank, because the queen-mother could not be counted in, is inept now, when we learn that Belshazzar was colleague with his father, and so the third place was all he had to give. On this question Behrmann takes the view discarded as impossible by Ewald, and holds that Daniel was placed third because of the queen-mother. It is one of the commonplaces of the criticism of this book that the history ascribed to Daniel is borrowed from the history of Joseph: why was the position offered not made "second," as was that of Joseph? We have the reason in what we know of the history of Babylon at the time. The Septuagint and Josephus were unaware of the facts, and translated as they did.
Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
Verse 8. - Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. As we have already said, the Septuagint here repeats the list of wise men. and omits "the Chaldeans." If the word "Chaldean" had been in the text originally, the fact that astrologers were frequently called Chaldeans would render it unlikely that the word should be omitted. Whereas from this very ground it was a word specially apt to be added on the margin, and once on the margin it would easily drop into the text. Even in the case of the Massoretic text, there seems to be a repetition here. It is certainly more obvious in the Septuagint text. The verse according to the Septuagint is, "And there entered in the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the astrologers, and were not able to announce the interpretation of the writing." Theodotion agrees here with the received text; the Peshitta omits "all." The only way in which we can escape the idea of this being a repetition is by holding that the word "all" is emphatic. The omission of the word "all" from the Peshitta is against this. It is to be observed that in the Septuagint there is no reference to "reading the writing;" it is only to announce the interpretation.
Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
Verse 9. - Then was King Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied. This verse presents signs also of being a repetition. The last clause appears to be the original form of the mysterious clause at the end of the sixth verse according to the Septuagint; the word mishtabsheen, which occurs here, seems to have been read mishtabhareen, from שַׁבְהַר (shab'har), "to be glorious," in the ittaphel; this becomes "to boast one's self," as in the Targum of Proverbs 25:14, also the Peshitta of the same passage; also 2 Corinthians 12:1. And this is the word used by Paulus Tellensis to translate καυχῶνται. The Septuagint has a verse here that has no equivalent in the Massoretic text, "Then the king called the queen about the sign, and showed her how great it was, and that no one had been able to declare to the king the interpretation of the writing." This verse avoids the repetition we find in the Massoretic text, and explains the presence of the queen in a much more plausible way than the received text does. In the Massoretic text it is the noise and tumult that pierces the women's apartments, and brings out the queen-mother; though not impossible, this is unlikely. The action of the king, as given in the Septuagint, is very probable. The wise men are baffled by this mysteriously appearing inscription. What is to be done? Belshazzar calls his mother, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, as she at least possibly was, to see if she knows anything in the past that might be a guide in such a matter. He not only shows her the sign, the inscription, but shows how great it was, by telling of the hand that had come out of the darkness, and had written it. Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. While the repetition is obvious, it is also true that the failure of all the wise men in Babylon to read the writing, as the Massoretic text has it, would increase the trouble of the king, and this trouble would naturally spread to the courtiers.
Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
Verses 10-12. - Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet-house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever; let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: there is a man in thy kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the King Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation. No one can fail to feel the presence of rhetoric here, especially in the last verse, which, we may remark, has no equivalent in the Septuagint. We see the rhetorical character of these verses more clearly when we consider the ineptitude of the special powers ascribed to Daniel to meet the present difficulty. Interpretation of dreams was a common attribute ascribed to wisdom in the East of old, as it is yet. But this was not a dream, and therefore the qualification was not to the purpose; still less to the purpose are the attributes that follow. Showing of hard sentences. Giving riddles that nobody could read was an evidence of wisdom all over the East (see Josephus, 8:5. 3; besides Talmudic stories of Solomon). This, however, is not a case of competition in riddles; above all, there is no opportunity of one giving riddles in return. "Dissolving of doubts" is the solving of these riddles. These qualities, which the queen-mother, according to the Massoretic text, ascribes to Daniel, might make him delightful as a boon companion, but were not at all to the purpose in the matter troubling the king. The version of the Septuagint is much briefer, and, it seems to us, much more satisfactory, "Then the queen reminded him concerning Daniel, who was of the captivity of Judaea, and said to the king, The man was understanding, wise, and excelling all the wise men of Babylon, and there is a holy spirit in him, and in the days of the king thy father, he showed difficult (ὑπέρογκα) interpretations to Nebuchadnezzar thy father." This has every sign of having been translated; thus the phrase, Ἐμνήσθη πρὸς αὐτὸν περὶ τοῦ Δανιήλ, which we have rendered, "reminded him concerning Daniel." This use of πρὸς after μιμνήσκω is unknown in classic Greek. In Homer's 'Odyssey' it is accusative of person; in Plato, 'Laches,' 200 D, it is dative of person; in 'Legg.,' 3:688, it is accusative of person. It is, however, exactly parallel with Genesis 40:14, Μνησθήσῃ περὶ ἐμοῦ πρὸς Φαραὼ. Πρὸς represents אֶל in the Hebrew; in the Targum of Onkelos and in the Peshitta this is translated by קְדָם; in Paulus Tellensis it is rendered by ל. Moreover, according to the Massoretic text, Belshazzar asks Daniel if he is" that Daniel which art of the captivity of the children of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?" The queen-mother had said nothing, according to the verses before us as given in the Massoretic recension, of Daniel being a Jew. According to the Septuagint, the queen-mother tells him whence Daniel is. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic text, save that it inserts "watchfulness" instead of "light," and omits the repetition of "thy father." The Peshitta is also substantially at one with our received text. One of the great difficulties which commentators have found in this part of the incident is how Belshazzar could be ignorant of Daniel. Various means have been adopted to get over the difficulty. One is that Daniel was away from Babylon up to this time (Jephet-ibn-Ali). Archdeacon Rose is certain he must have known about him. The explanation of this is as recumbent on the opponents of the authenticity of Daniel as on its defenders, for they - the latter - declare it the work of one author, and it has had powerful effect on people: it must be artistically written if it is not a record of facts. No artist in fictitious narrative would present to his readers so obvious a difficulty. We learn now what was the probable reason of Belshazzar's ignorance of Daniel. Nabu-nahid, a usurper, was at variance with the whole clergy, as we may call them, of Babylon, and most likely Daniel acted with the others, and possibly, as far back as the revolution in which Evil-Merodach perished, had been away from the court. It is the height of unfairness of any one to press the name here given to Nebuchadnezzar, "my father." That title was very loosely used among the Babylonians and Assyrians. Jehu is called "the son of Omri," although he had swept the race of Omri off the face of the earth. So Dr. hugo Winckler, in his ' Untersuchungen zur Attorientalischen Geschichte,' p. 53, note, says, "This word 'son' after the name of a Chaldean prince, is only to be taken in the sense of belonging to the same dynasty." Had the phrase used been that "Nebuchadnezzar slept with his fathers, and Belshazzar his son reigned in his stead," something might have been said for the view maintained by all critics, that the author thought Belshazzar the son of Nebuchadnezzar. How can the critics assert this, and yet, as does Professor Bevan, maintain this author intimate even with the minutest portions of Jeremiah, Kings, and Chronicles? If so, how is it that he did not know that both Kings and Jeremiah asserted Nebuchadnezzar to have been succeeded by Evil-Merodach? This information occupies too prominent a place in both books for him to have been ignorant of it. We can only understand his action in thus putting down Belshazzar as the son of Nebuchadnezzar by assuming his acceptance of usage. The critics cannot explain it. Those who maintain the traditional view may do so by saying that Daniel, writing at the time, knowing the real state of matters, the claim of Belshazzar to be descended from Nebuchadnezzar, the fact that Evil-Merodach had been killed, simply relates facts. Had he been inventing history, and acquainted with the holy books, and all the information they conveyed to everybody, he would of necessity have spent some pains in explaining how his history came to differ so much from what one could draw from the Books of Kings and Jeremiah. The two accounts of Saul's meeting with David are not comparable with this, as we find the reason of the contradiction in the coalescence of two different accounts.
There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;
Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.
Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
Verses 13-16. - Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing; and I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts; now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. There is a great deal of rhetoric in this, and the attempt to restore the stately etiquette of the Babylonian court. The king is represented as repeating very much what his mother had told him. It is to be observed that, although the queen-mother - as the Massoretic text records her words - has not spoken a word of Daniel's origin, and implies that Belshazzar knew noticing of him, yet when he comes, Belshazzar addresses him as knowing who and whence he is. The suspicion that is engendered by the mere reading of the text as we have it is confirmed by a study of the Septuagint text, where these four verses shrink into very modest dimensions, "Then Daniel was brought to the king, and the king answered and said, O Daniel, art thou able to show me the interpretation of the writing? and I will clothe thee with purple, and put a gold chain about thy neck, and thou shalt have authority over a third part of my kingdom." The brevity of this, the utter want of rhetoric, not to speak of its dramatic verisimilitude to the speech of a man beside himself with terror, make it the more probable text. Condensation was rarely the work of a falsarius; he might omit statements that were antagonistic to some preconceived notion, or, if only a leaf or so remained of a parchment otherwise filled up, he might endeavour to utilize the space left him by putting down as much as he could of some work he valued. Then, in such a case, a copyist might really condense. But neither of these causes can explain the omission of the rhetorical passages here. We are compelled, then, to regard the text behind the Septuagint in this place as the true Daniel. Theodotion, while on the whole agreeing with the text of the Massoretes, is briefer in some respects. There is one addition, the insertion of "magicians" between "wise men and "astrologers. This shows the process of the evolution of the Massoretic text. The Peshitta, though but little, if at all, later than Theodotion, is in yet closer agreement with the text of the Massoretes. Yet the Massoretic text shows certain peculiarities. The presence of נ, in the second personal pronoun, which was disappearing from Targumic, but is regularly found in Daniel, is to be observed. Further, there is אב with the suffix of the first person, which is not Targumic, but is found in the Sindschirli inscription. In the Targums it is אבא, not אבי, as in Genesis 9:34, Onkelos. Eastern Aramaic retained it, as may be seen in the Peshitta Version of the passage before us, and of that to which we have referred. This is another of the many slight indications which all point to the Eastern origin of the Book or' Daniel. It may be observed that we have not here תַּלְתִּי (tal'ti), but תַּלְתָּא (tal'ta). This is regarded by Behrmann as status empbaticus. The king in his terror makes appeal to one who, perhaps, had been dismissed the court on suspicion of being opposed to the new dynasty. That dynasty had displaced and murdered Evil-Merodach, the son of Daniel's old master, and one who had shown himself specially favourable to the Jews. As the text of the Septuagint gives the narrative, we have the king eager to have his terrors laid, and, to lead this opponent, whom his father, if not also Neriglissatr, had displaced, and put in opposition to his rule, to look favourably on him, he mentions the reward he offers.
I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.
And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing:
And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
Verses 17-23. - Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: and for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: and he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humblet thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, hays drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified. We have gathered these verses together, as they all relate to one matter and come under one con-detonation. Long ago yon Lengerke, and more recently Hitzig, have shown that such an insulting speech as Daniel addressed to Belshazzar would certainly be visited with punishment. The king had no guarantee that the promised interpretation of the writing on the wall would be true, especially when the interpreter had such an animus against him. Then the fact in the twenty-ninth verse, that Daniel received the gifts he had rejected, makes his conduct here all the more extraordinary. A writer of fiction, of even moderate skill, would not make the blunder here made. It could easily be made by a falsarius interpolating a speech he thought suitable to a Jewish prophet in the presence of a heathen king, who had dishonoured the sacred vessels by drinking wine in them himself, and his wives, and his concubines. It is to be noted that the princes are omitted from the enumeration here. In proof that our contention is correct, we find the mass of this entirely omitted from the Septuagint. There are signs of confusion, and coalescence of different readings in the text of the Septuagint, yet we have no hesitation in claiming that it represents a much earlier state of the text than we find in our Hebrew Bibles, "Then Daniel stood before the writing, and read, and thus answered the king: This is the writing: It hath been numbered; it was reckoned; it has been removed." The marginal reading which we find in the beginning of this chapter has, Mane, Phares, Thekel. The interpretation here follows a different succession, "And the hand which wrote stood" - a phrase that seems to be a mistaken rendering of the latter clause of the twenty-fourth verse as we find it in the Massoretic text. It seems difficult to imagine what Aramaic word has been translated ἔστη. Paulus Tel-lensis has (קמת, q'math), which may have been mistaken for sheliach, though it is not easy to see how. The clause is, at all events, misplaced. The following clause also is misplaced, and is a doublet of the first clause of the twenty-sixth verse. The twenty-third verse seems to be the nucleus of the speech ascribed to Daniel, "O king, thou madest a feast to thy friends, and thou drankest wine, and the vessels of the house of the living God were brought, and ye drank in them, thou and thy nobles, and praised all the idols made with the bands of men, and the living God ye did not bless, and thy breath is in his hand, and he gave thee thy kingdom, and thou didst not bless him, neither praise him." The wives and concubines are not mentioned here. There is no word of the madness of Nebuchadnezzar. Although from the disturbed state of the text in the immediate neighbourhood one is inclined to suspect the authenticity of this twenty-third verse, given in the LXX., yet there is nothing that contradicts the position created by the two early decrees of Nebuchadnezzar, which placed Jehovah the God of the Jews on a par with the great gods of Babylon to whom, though no worship was decreed, at all events no dishonour was to be done. Belshazzar is not so much blamed for praising the gods of wood and stone as for omitting to praise Jehovah. Belshazzar had dishonoured Jehovah, and therefore this ominous message had come forth. The first clause here seems the primitive text. What was more natural than that Daniel, coming into the presence of the king, should go and stand before the mysterious writing, and then, having read it himself, turn to the king and address him? The words of the Massoretic and of the text behind the Septuagint differ very considerably, but not so much but that the former may have grown out of the latter by expansion, and the insertion of paraphrastic additions. A peculiarity to be observed in the Massoretic text (ver. 17) is לְהֵוְיָן (lehayvyan), the third plural imperfect of היא, "to be." It is difficult to understand this form of the third person, save on the supposition that Daniel was written in a region where ל was the preformative. This preformative along with נ was used in Babylon so late as the period of the Babylonian Talmud. Theodotion and the Peshitta practically agree with the Massoretic text. Even when we omit all the insulting elements, we have Daniel's speech to Belshazzar as we find it in the Massoretic text; no reader can fail to notice the difference of Daniel's demeanour towards Belshazzar as narrated here, from that towards Nebuchadnezzar as narrated in the preceding chapter. When he learns the disaster that impends on the destroyer of his city and the conqueror of his nation, Daniel is astonied and silent, and bursts out from his silence, "The dream be upon thine enemies, and the interpretation thereof upon them that hate thee." He shows no sign of sorrow when he learns the fate impending on Belshazzar. We can understand this, if we regard Daniel's love for the splendid conqueror making him feel the blood of his murdered descendants, Evil-Merodach and Labasi-Marduk called for vengeance. So far as we can make out from external history, Belshazzar was a gallant young prince, who seemed to be able to maintain himself against Cyrus, while his father lived in retirement in Tema; but the judgment of God often falls on those who are not worse than their predecessors, only guilt has accumulated and ripened. Louis XVI. was not worse than, but really greatly superior to, his two immediate predecessors, yet on him, not on them, broke the vengeance of the French Revolution. There probably was, as said above under ver. 2, a special defiance of Jehovah, which therefore merited special punishment.
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:
And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
Verse 24. - Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. As we have seen, the real equivalent of this verse in the Septuagint is a clause in ver. 17, "And the hand which had written (γράφασα) stood." If we take this to mean that the band now "ceased to write," then the original text might be פְסִאָק יָדִא כְתָבָא, the verb being written fleaum, in Mandaean manner. Then it would easily happen that ק (in the older script and ) was resolved into ד (in the older script and ). In support of this, it may be observed that while in the fifth verse the older construction of construct state and status emphalicus is used to exhibit the genitival connection, in the present case the relative די is used as a sign of the genitive. Starting with this, it is easy to see how the Massoretic text arose; but, on the other hand, it is difficult to see the sense of the reading of the Septuagint, unless this fiery hand is to be imagined as tracing and retracing the characters on the wall of the palace, and that the hand only ceased when Daniel stood before the inscription to read. Thec-dotion differs very little from the Massoretic text, and the Peshitta coincides with it. The word for "writing," רְשִׁים (resheem), is really "engraving," and therefore peculiarly descriptive of the Assyrian mode of impressing on clay tablets or incising in stone the thing to be preserved.
And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
Verses 25-28. - And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. The Septuagint has two versions of this passage, one m the text, the other in the portion at the beginning, which we think is really composed of marginal readings. In the text the Aramaic is not given at all. As we have already seen, the verse which corresponds to ver. 25 here is really the latter part of ver. 17 of the Septuagint, "This is the writing: It hath been numbered; it is reckoned; it has been carried away." In the verses which are appended to the beginning of the chapter, we have the Aramaic words, but given in a different order, and without the repetition of the first word: "MANE, PHARES, THEKEL. MANE, It has been numbered; PHARES, It is carried away; TnEKEL, It has been set up." Here not only is the order different, but the meaning assigned to phares is singular. פְרַס means in Syriac, "spread out." It would seem that ἐξαίρω meant "stretched out" as well as "carried away." It is still more difficult to understand how thekel can mean "set up," unless the words, ἐν ζυγῷ, "on the balance," are understood. The Septuagint of the best version is briefer than the Massoretic, though less so than it is in some of the other passages, "Numbered is the time of thy kingdom; ceases thy kingdom; cut short and ended has been thy kingdom; to the Modes and the Persians has it been given." The word interpreted is not repeated as in the Massoretic text, and תְקִל is derived from קְלַל, which in some of the conjugations means "destroyed," whereas in ver. 17 it is rendered κατελογίσθη, "it is reckoned," a rendering of תקל which makes it mean "weigh." The Septuagint rendering of the first clause is an evident attempt at explaining the numbering implied. The Massoretic reading involves a pun in both the last words; there is a play between תְקִל (teqel), "to weigh," and קְלַל (qelal), "to be light," although the introduction of שכח rather conceals this. In the last the play is between פרס, "to divide," and פדס, "a Persian." Theodotion avoids the repetition of the first word, otherwise he is in somewhat close agreement with the Massoretic text, "MANE, God hath measured thy kingdom; THEKEL, It is set on the balance, and found wanting; PHARES, Thy kingdom is cut asunder, and given to the Medes and the Persians." The Peshitta is in close agreement with the Massoretic text. The actual meaning of the words, taking them as they appear in the Massoretictext, as Aramaic words, is, to give English equivalents, "a pound, a pound, an ounce, and quarters;" hence the impossibility of interpreting the words. We find all these words, mena, teqel (shekel), pares, in the Ninevite inscriptions. As the words are interpreted, we cannot fail to be impressed with the peremptory style of the inscription, as Hitzig has it. Zockler refers to the sculpturesque style (lapidarstil). This brevity rendered it difficult for the soothsayers to put any meaning into the words at all. In all the versions the fact that the kingdom is to be given to the Medes and Persians is emphasized, but, moreover, the play on words in the last clause implies the Persians as the prominent assailants of the Babylonian power, but really that the two powers were united. It seems extraordinary that any one, in the face of this, should maintain that the author of Daniel separated the two powers, and thought the Median power succeeded the Babylonian, and then that the Persian succeeded the Median. We know now that Herodotus's representation of the history of Media and Persia is utterly false and misleading.
This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Verse 29. - Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. The Septuagint runs thus: "Then Baltasar the king clothed Daniel in purple, and put on him a golden necklace, and gave authority to him over a third part of his kingdom." The only difference here is that there is no word of a proclamation. Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. We have תַּלְתָא here instead of תַּלְתִּי. The presence of the haphel form instead of the aphel, is to be noted. No reader whose attention is directed to it can fail to be struck with the magnanimity of Belshazzar; he had promised that whoever would interpret the inscription should be clothed in purple and gold, and be made third ruler of the kingdom. Had he been a mean man, he might have higgled about the matter; he might have declared an uncertainty as to whether Daniel did not, out of his spite against the murderers of the son of Nebuchadnezzar, invent the evil interpretation. The treatment Ahab meted out to Micaiah the son of Imlah sows the way a tyrannical monarch may a-t towards one who has uttered unpalatable prophecies against him. He might, according to the Persian story, have proclaimed Daniel exalted to all the promised honors, and then instantly had him executed. But, no; in noble simplicity he fulfils his promise to the last letter, without any apparent after-thought of vengeance. If Belshazzar is intended to represent Antiochus Epiphanes, certainly the portrait is singularly unlike anything we know of that monarch. Cruel and. treacherous, he was very unlikely to keep such a promise to one who had made such a prophecy concerning him. Even if lie could have done so, no Jew, with blood boiling from the indignities and cruelties heaped upon the Jewish race, could have pictured him doing this. Even the natural instinct that makes us think that specially terrible misfortune must be the result of specially unbroken wickedness, would certainly have led the writer of Daniel, if drawing on his imagination, to make Belshazzar meanly refuse his rewards, or, having given them, to threaten the receiver with death. It is no answer to say, with Ewald and Jephet-ibn-Ali. that the reward once promised was irrevocable, for the accuracy of the reading of the writing might have been contested, and the correctness of the interpretation denied. Further, as has been pointed out by Keil, there is no evidence that Epiphanes ever desecrated the sacred vessels at a banquet; he was regardless enough to have done so, but his financial necessities were too pressing for delaying the coining of these golden treasures. Moreover, in Antiochus such desecration would be without purpose, whereas, as we have seen, there might be a purpose in the action of Belshazzar. The idea maintained by commentators of the critical school, that there in any reference in the description given here of the feast of Belshazzar and its results to the feast which Antiochus gave to the peel,In of Antioch, as described by Polybius, 26, is mere nonsense. The ponts of contrast are vastly more prominent than the points of resemblance. Belshazzar's feast is over in one night; Antiochus's feast lasted several days. Belshazzar's feast was given in his palace, to "a thousand of his lords;" Antiochus invited the whole populace of Antioch to revel in the grove of Daphne. While, as we have seen, there is blasphemy against Jehovah and defiance of him in Belshazzar's feast, there in no kind of debauchery. In regard to the feast of Antiochus, on the other hand, while there is maddest excess of every kind, a very orgy of lust and drunkenness, there is no word, either in Polybius or in the Books of the Maccabees, of any special act of defiance to Jehovah, or blasphemy of his Name. The only point of identity is that both the banquet of Belshazzar and the orgy of Antiochus have been called "feasts." Altogether, the idea that Belshazzar represents Antiochus Epiphanes is nearly as absurd as that Nebuchadnezzar does. Did the orthodox interpretation involve such an identification, what boundless scorn would be poured on the unfortunate maintainers of such a view?
In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
Verse 30. - In that night was Belshazzar the King of the Chaldeans slain. The version of the LXX. is here very different, "And the interpretation came upon Belshazzar the king, and the kingdom was taken from the Chaldeans, and given to the Medes and the Persians. There seems no possibility of connecting these two readings so that either should be shown to have come from the other. The Massoretic text, which is here supported by Theodotion and the Peshitta, is the shorter; but in this instance, as neither can have sprung from the other, Brevity has less probative force. If we look at the probability of the situation, we are compelled to accept the Septuagint reading. If the Massoretic reading had been the original, the dramatic completeness of the disaster, following with such rapidity on the back of the prophecy, would certainly have been preserved in every translation. Whereas the desire for this dramatic completeness might lead to the Massoretic verse being fabricated. Further, when we look at the events of the night, it seems impossible to place all of them in the short interval of one night. The feast had begun after sundown, for the lamps were lighted. It had already gone on some time ere Belshazzar thought of the vessels of the house of God. Then, in contempt of Jehovah, the guests sang praises to the gods of Babylon. it is after all this that the writing appears. There is next the calling of the wise men, who were in the vicinity of the palace. On their failure to explain the writing, the other wise men are summoned by proclamation; they assemble, essay the reading, and fail. The queen-mother comps - either is called, or, hearing the tumult, comes in herself - and tells Belshazzar of Daniel. Daniel is summoned, and reads the writing. Even if we maintain - although it does not seem the natural reading of the passage - that the proclamation of a reward to him who could read the writing followed immediately on the order to call in the astrologers and other wise men, still, it is difficult to imagine all the events, especially the summoning of all the wise men in Babylon by proclamation, and the finding out of Daniel and bringing him to the court, taking place in one night, and that in that very night was Belshazzar slain. On the other hand, the Septuagint makes no such demand on our belief. According to it, the prophecy was not so closely connected with its fulfilment. The feast recorded here may have taken place six, eight, or ten )ears before the actual fall of Babylon. We know that from his seventh year till some time between his eleventh and seventeenth year Nahunahid was in Tema. This feast might be the inauguration of Belshazzar's viceroyalty; in that case it would be nearly ten years before the capture of Babylon by Cyrus. If that is so, the supposed contradiction between this verse and Daniel 8:1 vanishes. We need only look at the various theories of who Belshazzar was. Niebuhr assumes it as a second name for Evil-Merodach - a view for which Keil has some sympathy. Niebuhr ingeniously combines the statement from Berosus, that his reign was ἀνόμως καὶ ἀσελγῶς. This, however, might mean a favour for the Jews, shown by the special honour given to Jehoiachin - a thing which would be readily regarded by the Babylonians as "lawless and outrageous." lie maintains that the change of dynasty implied in Babylon was the assumption of the supremacy by Astyages the Mede, who, according to Niebuhr, is Darius the Mede. After one year's personal reign, he placed Neriglissar on the throne. This view is definitely contradicted by the contract tables, which have no reference to a reign between Evil-Merodach and Neriglissar. The other theory is that he is Labasi-Marduk. This view is maintained by Delitzsch and Ebrard. All of them assume the murder of the king the very night of the feast - a thing which is in the teeth of probability, and not supported by the Septuagint reading.
And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
Verse 31. - And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about three score and two years old. It is probable that the Massoretic division of the chapters here is to be preferred. According to it, this verse is assigned to the begining of the next chapter, but most of the more ancient versions, Theodotion, the Peshitta, and the Vulgate, agree with our English arrangement. The Septuagint, like the Massoretic text, assigns this verse to the sixth chapter. Its rendering manifests several striking peculiarities, "And Artaxerxes of the Medes received (παρέλαβε) the kingdom, and Darius was full of days, and reverend (ἔνδοξος) in old age." This is the product of doublets ארְטַחְשַׁשְׁתְ, Artaxerxes, being suggested by some scribe as in his opinion a more probable name than Darius. So the one name begins the first clause, and the other the second. The last clause is evidently due to כְּבַר (kebar), "about" ("as the son of"), being read כַבֵר (kaber), "great," "multiplied" - a meaning this word has in Syriac, but not in Chahlee (Genesis 35:11). Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. The uncertainty as to the name has to be noted. We shall reserve for fuller discussion the question of Darius the Mede, only we would say that the name not improbably was modified from a less-known name to one somewhat like it but well known. We know that "Go-baru," or "Oybaru" - "Gobryas," in Greek - was appointed governor by Cyrus when he conquered Babylon, and that, in the script of the Sindschirli monuments, Gobryas, or . is not unlike Darius. One point to be noted is the fact that the verb used is wrongly translated "took." really means "received." When this is said, we naturally expect some one, either God or man, from whom he has received this honour. If this purported to be a history of Babylonia, then it might be reasoned that the implied source from whom the kingdom was received was God; in such a case קבל would be used of one who succeeded to the kingdom by inheritance; this cannot be the meaning here. In this passage it is merely incidentally mentioned in order to explain the events that immediately follow. The more natural interpretation is that he was put on the throne by another person, his superior. The instance quoted by Professor Bevan, in which this verb is used of the accession of Julian the Apostate, tells really against his contention. Julian expected to have to conquer the empire: but, by the death of his cousin, he received it as an inheritance. Nothing could be more unlike what occurred in Babylon, according to his theory of what the author of Daniel meant. He maintains that the author of Daniel thought Darius conquered Babylon, and so ascended the throne. The example he brings does not show that קבל could be used in that sense.