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Daniel 1:1 . In the third year of Jehoiakim Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. Some think that Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiakim the third year, but that while on his way to Babylon he made submission, and was restored; for the fourth year of Jehoiakim was the first of Nebuchadnezzar. Others solve this difficulty by supposing a year, or part of a year, to be lost in the expedition to Egypt, for Nebuchadnezzar was engaged against the Egyptians when informed of his father’s death, and with a few light troops he crossed the deserts to Babylon, received the crown, and returned to the war. Hence this slight variation from Jeremiah 25:1, strengthens the truth of scripture history, by showing that the prophets had no correspondence with each other.
Daniel 1:3 . Ashpenaz the master or prince of the eunuchs. Daniel being placed under his care, has occasioned a belief that Daniel was emasculated, and so made a eunuch.
Daniel 1:4 . The tongue of the Chaldeans. Daniel, it is highly probable, understood the Syriac, as it seems to have been both the court and the current language of the east. 2 Kings 17:26. But the literature of the Chaldeans abounded with astrology, and all the superstition of gentile science. True; and as Daniel refused to comply with the command to eat of the king’s meat, we ought to suppose he equally refused to study the mysteries of error; for no man who scripturally believes in providence, can believe in astrology. All books of this kind the gentiles burnt on their conversion to christianity. Acts 19:19.
Daniel 1:7 . Belteshazzar. The Hebrew names were difficult for the Chaldeans to pronounce. Besides, it was usual for men to receive new names on their accession to honour and office.
Daniel 1:8 . Daniel would not defile himself with meats ceremonially unclean, and which were often offered to idols. Acts 10:14. Galatians 2:12.
Daniel 1:21 . And Daniel continued to the first year of king Cyrus. He more or less enjoyed honours and office till that time: and what minister ever retained honours so long? He was about a hundred years of age when he died.
When the divine justice hewed down very many wicked and incorrigible families in Judea, it is a most pleasing consideration, that shoots afterwards sprung from the old roots, adorned with every excellence which could ennoble the human character. Calamities purify the church, and call forth her favourite characters to distinction and honour. Hence, we should never be terrified at the tempest, while omnipotence rides on the wings of the wind.
The men most honoured and distinguished in the church, never had any choice or influence in their own elevation. When in any age the Lord had a great work to do, he never failed to call from the treasuries of his providence men qualified to do his will. Thus Joseph, Moses, Gideon, David, and Mordecai were all elevated by singular circumstances; the holy prophets were all moved by a divine impulse; and when the Lord Christ was about to send his gospel into all the world, he called unto him whom he would. Good men, on this consideration, should never tempt providence to procure elevation. God has his eye on his people, and when he wants their peculiar services he can call them into action by the easy operations of his gracious care.
Though human learning may lead a man to national notice and honour, yet God must finish the education of a prophet, and of an elevated character. The language and literature of Chaldea, added to Daniel’s Hebrew store, could never have qualified him to be the prodigy of wisdom in all the east, had not God inspired him, like many others in the primitive church, 1 Corinthians 12:10, with a divine foresight into the import of certain dreams. Hence the pure and peaceable wisdom from above is to be sought and preferred to all that knowledge which shall vanish away.
These four Hebrew youths excelled, and in a short time, all the literary characters of Babylon, because they were taught of God, and because they had studied the Genesis of Moses, with whom no pagan poet or historian is to be compared: that book is the basis of all history and science. The creation and fall of man, the promise of redemption, the deluge, the genealogy of the patriarchs, the confusion of language, the dispersion of the tribes, with the call of Abraham, are so many chaste sources of knowledge which can be found nowhere else. Add to this, that the Lord influenced their temperance, and their application to study, by his counsel and grace. The long life, the high station, and happy termination of Daniel’s administration, corresponded with the glory of his early call. He continued a favourite at court all the forty five years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, as it would seem from the testimony of Belshazzar’s mother: Daniel 5:11. Whatever were his stations during the succeeding reign, he lived recollected and in untarnished repute. He lived to show Cyrus the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the conquest of Babylon, and to procure the emancipation of his people. Isaiah 14:44, 45. He might then exclaim with the venerable Simeon, Now, Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Oh if rulers were as good as they are great, their glory would remain for ever, and their memory would be the pride of posterity.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Daniel 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18