This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones…
The word for watcher became an ordinary term in the Syrian church for angel; and Ephrem Syrus classes the watchers with the Seraphim and Cherubim as a special order of Heavenly beings. The use, however, of the word in the Syrian church was probably borrowed from this passage, and it is interesting to find in the Babylonian mythology a complete explanation of its use. For as there are "watchers" mentioned also in the literature of the Parsees, or Persian fire worshippers, it has been argued that the Book of Daniel was a late book, which had borrowed its doctrines of angels from Zoroaster. Our enlarged knowledge of Babylonian literature has revealed to us the fact that they believed in a vast hierarchy of spiritual beings of every rank, some belonging to the earth and some to Heaven; and among these the seven spirits, to whom the seven planets were entrusted, held an important place as the guardians of the universe and of the house. There were also seven warder spirits who kept watch at the gates of Hades. Each dwelling also had special watchers, whose office it was to drive away the wicked and all enemies, and who could oven inflict upon them the penalty of death. There have been brought home to our museums figures coarsely fashioned in bronze of these watchers; while in the cuneiform inscriptions there are found solemn forms, directing where, with magical rites, each one of these guardian beings was to be placed, and detailing his attributes of office. The being, therefore, which the king saw in his dream was one of his own guardians, a warder spirit under whose protection he had been placed.
(R. Payne Smith, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
WEB: The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will, and sets up over it the lowest of men.