Click to donate today!
When Nebuchadnezzar first besieged Jerusalem he not only took away the holy vessels of the temple, but also commanded that several Israelitish youths of noble lineage, among whom was Daniel, should be carried to Babylon and there educated in the science and wisdom of the Chaldeans for service in his court, which they entered upon when their education was completed. This narrative, in which the stedfast attachment of Daniel and his three friends to the religion of their fathers, and the blessings which flowed to them from this fidelity (Daniel 1:8-17), are particularly set forth, forms the historical introduction to the following book, whilst it shows how Daniel reached the place of influence which he held, a place which was appointed for him according to the divine counsel, during the Babylonish exile, for the preservation and development of the Old Testament kingdom of God. It concludes (Daniel 1:21) with the remark, that Daniel continued to occupy this place till the first year of Cyrus.
Of this expedition of Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem it is related in the second book of Kings (2 Kings 24:1): “In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years; then he turned and rebelled against him;” and in the second book of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 36:6): “Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters to carry him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried off the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.” That both of these statements refer to the same expedition of Nebuchadnezzar against Jehoiakim mentioned here, appears not only from the statement of the book of Chronicles agreeing with Daniel 1:2 of this chapter, namely, that Nebuchadnezzar took away a part of the sacred vessels of the temple to Babylon, and there put them in the temple of his god, but also from the circumstance that, beyond all doubt, during the reign of Jehoiakim where was not a second siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. It is true, indeed, that when Jehoiakim threw off the yoke at the end of three years' subjection, Nebuchadnezzar sent Chaldean, Aramaean, Moabitish, and Ammonitish hosts against him for the purpose of bringing him into subjection, but Jerusalem was not again laid siege to by these hosts till the death of Jehoiakim. Not till his son Jehoiachin ascended the throne did the servants of Nebuchadnezzar again come up against Jerusalem and besiege it. When, during the siege, Nebuchadnezzar himself came up, Jehoiachin surrendered to him after three months, and was, along with the chief men of his kingdom, and the strength of the population of Jerusalem and Judah, and the treasures of the royal palace and of the temple, carried down to Babylon (2 Kings 24:2-16). The year, however, in which Nebuchadnezzar, in the reign of Jehoiakim, first took Jerusalem and carried away a part of the treasures of the temple to Babylon, is stated neither in the second book of Kings nor in Chronicles, but may be pretty certainly determined by the statements of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 25:1., Jeremiah 36:1.). According to Jeremiah 46:2, Nebuchadnezzar smote the Egyptian king Pharaoh-Necho with his army at Carchemish in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim. That same year is spoken of (Jeremiah 25:1) as the first year of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and is represented by Jeremiah not only as a critical period for the kingdom of Judah; but also, by the prediction that the Lord would bring His servant Nebuchadnezzar against Judah and against its inhabitants, and against all the nations round about, that He would make Judah a desolation, and that these nations would serve the king of Babylon seventy years (Jeremiah 25:2-11), he without doubt represents it as the beginning of the seventy years of Babylonish exile: In this the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the prophet was also commanded (Jeremiah 36:1.) to write in a book all the words which the Lord had spoken unto him against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day in which He had spoken to him in the time of Josiah even till then, that the house of Judah might hear all the evil which He purposed to do unto them, and might return every man from his evil way. Jeremiah obeyed this command, and caused these predictions, written in the roll of a book, to be read by Baruch to the people in the temple; for he himself was a prisoner, and therefore could not go to the temple.
The first capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar cannot therefore have taken place in the third, but must have been in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, i.e., in the year 606 b.c. This, however, appears to stand in opposition to the statement of the first verse of this chapter: “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim בּא Nebuchadnezzar to Jerusalem.” The modern critics accordingly number this statement among the errors which must disprove the genuineness of this book (see above, p. 508f.). The apparent opposition between the language of Daniel (Daniel 1:1) that Nebuchadnezzar undertook his first expedition against Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, and the affirmation of Jeremiah, according to which not only was Pharaoh-Necho slain by Nebuchadnezzar at the Euphrates in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, but also in this same year Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Judea is for the first time announced, cannot be resolved either by the hypothesis of a different mode of reckoning the years of the reign of Jehoiakim and of Nebuchadnezzar, nor by the supposition that Jerusalem had been already taken by Nebuchadnezzar before the battle of Carchemish, in the third year of Jehoiakim. The first supposition is set aside by the circumstance that there is no certain analogy for it.
(Note: The old attempt to reconcile the difference in this way has already been shown by Hengstenberg ( Beit. z. Einl. in d. A. T. p. 53) to be untenable; and the supposition of Klief. (p. 65f.), that Jehoiakim entered on his reign near the end of a year, and that Jeremiah reckons the year of his reign according to the calendar year, but that Daniel reckons it from the day of his ascending the throne, by which it is made out that there is no actual difference, is wholly overthrown by the circumstance that in the sacred Scriptures there is no analogy for the reckoning of the year of a king's reign according to the day of the month on which he began to reign. On this supposition we might reconcile the apparent difference only if no other plan of reconciliation were possible. But such is not the actual state of the case.)
The latter supposition is irreconcilable with Jer. 25 and 36.
(Note: Following the example of Hofmann ( die 70 Jahre Jer. p. 13ff.), Hävernick ( Neue Krit. Unterss. über d. B. Daniel, p. 52ff.), Zündel ( Krit. Unterss. p. 20ff.), and others have decided in favour of it.)
If Jeremiah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim announced that because Judah did not hearken unto his warnings addressed to them “from the thirteenth year of Josiah even unto this day,” that is, for the space of three and twenty years, nor yet to the admonitions of all the other prophets (Jeremiah 25:3-7) whom the Lord had sent unto them, therefore the Lord would now send His servant Nebuchadnezzar with all the people of the north against the land and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, utterly to destroy the land and make it desolate, etc. - then it must be affirmed that he publicly made known the invasion of Judah by the Chaldeans as an event which had not yet taken place, and therefore that the supposition that Jerusalem had already in the preceding year been taken by Nebuchadnezzar, and that Jehoiakim had been brought under his subjection, is entirely excluded. It is true that in Daniel 25 Jeremiah prophesies a judgment of “perpetual desolations against Jerusalem and against all the nations,” but it is as unwarrantable to apply, as Klief. does, this prophecy only “to the total destruction of Jerusalem and of Judah, which took place in the eleventh year of Zedekiah,” as with older interpreters only to the first expedition of Nebuchadnezzar against Jehoiakim, 2 Kings 24:1 and 2 Chronicles 36:6. In the words of threatening uttered by the prophet there are included all the expeditions of Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem and Judah, from his first against Jehoiakim to the final destruction of Jerusalem under Zedekiah; so that we cannot say that it is not applicable to the first siege of Jerusalem under Jehoiakim, but to the final destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, as this whole prophecy is only a comprehensive intensified summary of all the words of God hitherto spoken by the mouth of the prophet. To strengthen the impression produced by this comprehensive word of God, he was commanded in that same year (Jeremiah 36:1.), as already mentioned, to write out in the roll of a book all the words hitherto spoken by him, that it might be seen whether or not the several words gathered together into a whole might not exert an influence over the people which the separate words had failed to do.
Moreover a destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans before the overthrow of the Egyptian power on the Euphrates, which took place in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, cannot at all be thought of. King Jehoiakim was “put into bands” by Pharaoh-Necho and made a tributary vassal to him (2 Kings 23:33.), and all the land from the river of Egypt even unto the Euphrates was brought under his sway; therefore Nebuchadnezzar could not desolate Judah and Jerusalem before Pharaoh-Necho was slain. Neither could Nebuchadnezzar pass in the presence of the Egyptian host stationed in the stronghold of Carchemish, on the Euphrates, and advance toward Judah, leaving behind him the city of Babylon as a prize to so powerful an enemy, nor would Necho, supposing that Nebuchadnezzar had done this, have quietly allowed his enemy to carry on his operations, and march against his vassal Jehoiakim, without following in the rear of Egypt's powerful foe.
(Note: With the above compare my Lehrb. der Einl. §131, and my Commentary on 2 Kings 24:1. With this Kran. agrees (p. 17f.), and in addition remarks: “In any case Necho would at once have regarded with jealousy every invasion of the Chaldean into the region beyond the Euphrates, and would least of all have suffered him to make an extensive western expedition for the purpose of conquering Judea, which was under the sway of Egypt.”)
The statement in the first verse may indeed, literally taken, be interpreted as meaning that Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem and took in in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, because בּוא frequently means to come to a place. But it is not necessary always so to interpret the word, because בּוא means not only to come, but also to go, to march to a place. The assertion, that in this verse בּוא is to be interpreted (Häv. N. Kr. U. p. 61, Ew., and others) as meaning to come to a place, and not to march to it, is as incorrect as the assertion that the translation of בּא by he marched is inadmissible or quite impossible, because עלה is generally used of the march of an army (Staeh., Zünd.). The word בּוא , from the first book of the Canon (cf. Genesis 14:5) to the last, the book of Daniel not excepted (cf. e.g., Daniel 11:13, Daniel 11:17, Daniel 11:29, etc.), is used of military expeditions; and regarding the very general opinion, that בּוא , in the sense of to march, to go to a place, occurs less frequently, Kran. (p. 21) has rightly remarked, that “it stands always and naturally in this sense whenever the movement has its point of departure from the place of him who observes it, thinks of it, or makes a communication regarding it.” Therefore, e.g., it is used “always in a personal verbal command with reference to the movement, not yet undertaken, where naturally the thought as to the beginning or point of departure passes into the foreground; as e.g., in Genesis 45:17; Exodus 6:11; 7:26; Exodus 9:1; Exodus 10:1; Numbers 32:6; 1 Samuel 20:19; 2 Kings 5:5. In Jonah 1:3 it is used of the ship that was about to go to Tarshish; and again, in the words עמּהם לבוא , ibid., it is used when speaking of the conclusion of the journey.” “On the contrary, if the speaker or narrator is at the terminus ad quem of the movement spoken of, then of course the word בּוא is used in the other sense of to come, to approach, and the like.” Accordingly these words of Daniel, “Nebuchadnezzar בּוא to Jerusalem,” considered in themselves, may be interpreted without any regard to the point of departure or the termination of the movement. They may mean “Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem,” or that “he marched to Jerusalem,” according as the writer is regarded as writing in Judah or Jerusalem, or in Babylon at the point of departure of Nebuchadnezzar's journey. If the book was composed by a Maccabean Jew in Palestine, then the translation, “he came to Jerusalem,” would be the more correct, because such a writer would hardly have spoken of a military movement from its eastern point of departure. The case is altogether different if Daniel, who lived as a courtier in Babylon from his youth up to old age, wrote this account. “For him, a Jew advanced in years, naturally the first movement of the expedition threatening and bringing destruction to his fatherland, whether it moved directly or by a circuitous route upon the capital, would be a significant fact, which he had in every respect a better opportunity of comprehending than his fellow-countrymen living in the remote west, since this expedition was an event which led to the catastrophe of the exile. For the Jew writing in Babylon about the expedition, the fatal commencement of the march of the Chaldean host would have a mournful significance, which it could not have for a writer living in Jerusalem.”
In this way Kran. has thoroughly vindicated the rendering of בּא , “he marched” to Jerusalem, and also the explanation of the word as referring to the setting out of the Chaldean army which Hitz., Hofm., Staeh., Zünd., and others have declared to be opposed to the meaning of the word and “impossible,” and at the same time he has set aside as groundless the further remark of Hitzig, that the designation of the time also applies to ויּצר . If בּא is to be understood of an expedition with reference to its point of departure, then the fixing of its time cannot of course refer also to the time of the arrival of the expedition at its termination and the siege then ensuing. The time of its arrival before Jerusalem, as well as the beginning, duration, and end of the siege, is not defined, and only its result, the taking of Jerusalem, is, according to the object of the author, of sufficient importance to be briefly announced. The period of the taking of the city can only be determined from dates elsewhere given. Thus from the passages in Jeremiah already referred to, it appears that this happened in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, in which year Nebuchadnezzar overcame the army of Necho king of Egypt at the Euphrates (Jeremiah 46:2), and took all the land which the king of Egypt had subdued, from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates, so that Pharaoh-Necho came no more out of his land (2 Kings 24:7). With this agrees Berosus in the fragments of his Chaldean history preserved by Josephus ( Ant. x. 11. 1, and c. Ap. i. 19). His words, as found in the latter passage, are these: “When his (Nebuc.) father Nabopolassar heard that the satrap whom he had set over Egypt and over the parts of Coelesyria and Phoenicia had revolted from him, he was unable to bear the annoyance any longer, but committing a part of his army to his son Nabuchodonosor, who was then a youth, he sent him against the rebel. Nabuchodonosor encountered him in battle and overcame him, and brought the land again under his dominion. It happened that his father Nabopolassar at this time fell sick and died at the city of Babylon, after he had reigned twenty-one years (Berosus says twenty-nine years). But when Nabuchodonosor not long after heard of the death of his father, he set the affairs of Egypt and of the other countries in order, and committed the prisoners he had taken from the Jews, the Phoenicians, and Syrians, and from the nations belonging to Egypt, to some of his friends, that they might conduct the heavy armed troops with the rest of the baggage to Babylonia, while he himself hastened with a small escort through the desert to Babylon. When he came hither, he found that the public affairs had been managed by the Chaldeans, and that the principal persons among them had preserved the kingdom for him. He now obtained possession of all his father's dominions, and gave directions that the captives should be placed as colonies in the most favourably situated districts of Babylonia,” etc. This fragment illustrates in an excellent manner the statements made in the Bible, in case one be disposed to estimate the account of the revolt of the satrap placed over Egypt and the countries lying round Coelesyria and Phoenicia as only the expression of boastfulness on the part of the Babylonish historian, claiming that all the countries of the earth of right belonged to the monarch of Babylon; and it also shows that the rebel satrap could be none other than Pharaoh-Necho. For Berosus confirms not only the fact, as declared in 2 Kings 24:7, that Pharaoh-Necho in the last year of Nabopolassar, after the battle at Megiddo, had subdued Judah, Phoenicia, and Coelesyria, i.e., “all the land from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates,” but he also bears witness to the fact that Nebuchadnezzar, after he had slain Pharaoh-Necho (Jeremiah 46:2) “by the river Euphrates in Carchemish,” made Coelesyria, Phoenicia, and Judah tributary to the Chaldean empire, and consequently that he took Jerusalem not before but after the battle at Carchemish, in prosecution of the victory he had obtained over the Egyptians.
This does not, however, it must be confessed, prove that Jerusalem had already in the fourth year of Jehoiakim come under the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar. Therefore Hitz. and others conclude from Jeremiah 36:9 that Nebuchadnezzar's assault upon Jerusalem was in the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim as yet only in prospect, because in that month Jeremiah prophesied of the Chaldean invasion, and the extraordinary fast then appointed had as its object the manifestation of repentance, so that thereby the wrath of God might be averted. This Kran. endeavours to prove from 2 Kings 25:27, cf. Jeremiah 52:31. But in the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah caused to be rehearsed to the people in the court of the temple his former prophecies, written by Baruch in a book according to the commandment of the Lord, and pronounced the threatening against Jehoiakim because he had cut to pieces this book and had cast it into the fire, Jeremiah 36:29. This threatening, that God would bring upon the seed and upon the servants of Jehoiakim, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all the evil which He had pronounced against them (Jeremiah 36:31), does not exclude the previous capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, but announces only the carrying out of the threatened judgment in the destruction of Jerusalem and of the kingdom of Judah to be as yet imminent.
The extraordinary fast of the people also, which was appointed for the ninth month, was not ordained with the view of averting the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, which was then expected, after the battle at Carchemish; for although fasts were sometimes appointed or kept for the purpose of turning away threatened judgment or punishment (e.g., 2 Samuel 12:15.; 1 Kings 21:27; Esther 4:1; Esther 3:1-15:16), yet, in general, fasts were more frequently appointed to preserve the penitential remembrance of punishments and chastisements which had been already endured: cf. e.g., Zechariah 7:5; Ezra 10:6.; Nehemiah 1:4; 1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 1:12, etc. To ascertain, therefore, what was the object of this fast which was appointed, we must keep in view the character of Jehoiakim and his relation to this fast. The godless Jehoiakim, as he is represented in 2 Kings 23:37; 2 Chronicles 36:5, and Jeremiah 22:13., was not the man who would have ordained a fast (or allowed it if the priests had wished to appoint it) to humble himself and his people before God, and by repentance and prayer to turn away the threatened judgment. Before he could ordain a fast for such a purpose, Jehoiakim must hear and observe the word of the prophet, and in that case he would not have been so enraged at the reading of the prophecies of Jeremiah as to have cut the book to pieces and cast it into the fire. If the fast took place previous to the arrival of the Chaldeans before Jerusalem, then neither the intention of the king nor his conduct in regard to it can be comprehended. On the other hand, as Zünd. p. 21, and Klief. p. 57, have shown, both the ordaining of a general fast, and the anger of the king at the reading of the prophecies of Jeremiah in the presence of the people in the temple, are well explained, if the fast is regarded as designed to keep in remembrance the day of the year on which Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem. As Jehoiakim bore with difficulty the yoke of the Chaldean oppression, and from the first meditated on a revolt, for after three years he did actually revolt, he instituted the fast “to stir up the feelings of the people against the state of vassalage into which they had been brought” (Klief.), “and to call forth a religious enthusiasm among them to resist the oppressor” (Zünd.). This opposition could only, however, result in the destruction of the people and the kingdom. Jeremiah therefore had his prophecies read to the people in the temple on that day by Baruch “as a counterbalance to the desire of the king,” and announced to them that Nebuchadnezzar would come again to subdue the land and to destroy from out of it both man and beast. “Therefore the king was angry, and destroyed the book, because he would not have the excitement of the people to be so hindered; and therefore also the princes were afraid (Jeremiah 36:16) when they heard that the book of these prophecies was publicly read” (Klief.).
The words of 2 Kings 25:27, cf. Jeremiah 52:31, do not contradict this conclusion from Jeremiah 36:9, even though that drawn by Kran., p. 18, from this passage were adopted, viz., that since almost thirty-seven whole years had passed from the carrying away of Jehoiachin to the end of the forty-three years of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, but Jehoiachin had reigned only for a few months, the beginning of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar must be dated in the sixth of the eleven years' reign of Jehoiakim, the predecessor of Jehoiachin. For since, according to the testimony of Berosus, Nebuchadnezzar conducted the war against Hither Asia, in which he slew king Necho at Carchemish, and as a further consequence of this victory took Jerusalem, before the death of his father, in the capacity of a commander-in-chief clothed with royal power, and when in Hither Asia, as it seems, and on the confines of Egypt, he then for the first time heard tidings of his father's death, and therefore hastened by the shortest road to Babylon to assume the crown and lay claim to all his father's dominions, - then it follows that his forty-three years' reign begins after the battle of Carchemish and the capture of Jerusalem under Jehoiakim, and might possibly have begun in the sixth year of Jehoiakim, some five months after the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:9). Against this supposition the circumstance that Nebuchadnezzar, as stated in Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 25:1, and also Daniel 1:1, was called king of Babylon before he had actually ascended the throne is no valid objection, inasmuch as this title is explained as a prolepsis which would be easily understood by the Jews in Palestine. Nabopolassar came into no contact at all with Judah; the Jews therefore knew scarcely anything of his reign and his death; and the year of Nebuchadnezzar's approach to Jerusalem would be regarded in a general way both by Jeremiah and his contemporaries as the first year of his reign, and the commander of the Chaldean army as the king of Babylon, no matter whether on account of his being actual co-regent with his aged and infirm father, or merely because he was clothed with royal power as the chief commander of the army.
(Note: Thus not only Hgstb. Beitr. i. p. 63, Häv., Klief., Kran., etc., but also v. Lengerke, Daniel. p. 3, and Hitz. Daniel. p. 3. The latter, e.g., remarks: “The designation as king does not furnish any obvious objection, for Nebuchadnezzar, the commander-in-chief of the army, is to the Jewish writers (thus Jeremiah 25:1) a king when he first comes under their notice. They appear to have had no knowledge whatever of his father.”)
In this sense Daniel (Daniel 1:1) names him who was afterwards king, at a time when he was not yet the possessor of the throne, the king of Babylon; for he was in effect the king, so far as the kingdom of Judah was concerned, when he undertook the first expedition against it.
But the reckoning of Kran. is also not exact. Nebuchadnezzar's ascending the throne and the beginning of his reign would only happen in the sixth year of Jehoiakim if either the three months of Jehoiachin (37 years' imprisonment of Jehoiachin + 1 year's reign + 5 years of Jehoiakim = 43 years of Nebuchadnezzar) are to be reckoned as 1 year, or at least the 11 years of Jehoiakim as 11 full years, so that 5 3/4 years of Jehoiakim's reign must be added to the 37 years of Jehoiachin's imprisonment and the 3 months of his reign so as to make up the 43 years of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Thus Jehoiakim must have reigned 5 1/4 years at the time when Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne. Whereas if Jehoiakim's reign extended only to 10 1/2 years, which were reckoned as 11 years in the books of the Kings, according to the general method of recording the length of the reign of kings, then Nebuchadnezzar's ascending the throne took place in the fifth years of Jehoiakim's reign, or, at the furthest, after he had reigned 4 3/4 years. This latter reckoning, whereby the first year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign is made to coincide with the fifth year of Jehoiakim's, is demanded by those passages in which the years of the reign of the kings of Judah are made parallel with the years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign; viz., 2 Kings 24:12, where it is stated that Jehoiachin was taken prisoner and carried away captive in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar; also Jeremiah 32:1, where the tenth years of Zedekiah corresponds with the eighteenth of Nebuchadnezzar; and finally, Jeremiah 52:5, Jeremiah 52:12, and 2 Kings 25:2, 2 Kings 25:8, where the eleventh year of Zedekiah corresponds with the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. According to all these passages, the death of Jehoiakim, or the end of his reign, happened either in the eighth year, or at all events in the end of the seventh year, of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, for Jehoiachin reigned only three months; so that Nebuchadnezzar reigned six full years, and perhaps a few months longer, as contemporary with Jehoiakim, and consequently he must have mounted the throne in the fifth of the eleven years of Jehoiakim's reign.
(Note: The synchronistic statements in the passages, 2 Kings 24:12; 2 Kings 25:2, 2 Kings 25:8; Jeremiah 32:1 and Jeremiah 52:5, Jeremiah 52:12, might indeed be interpreted as meaning, that in them the years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign are reckoned from the time when his father entrusted to him the chief command of the army at the breaking out of the war with Necho (see my Commentary on 2 Kings 24:12); but in that case the years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign would amount to 44 1/4 years, viz., 37 years of Jehoiachin's imprisonment, 3 months of his reign, and 7 years of Jehoiakim's reign. And according to this reckoning, it would also result from the passages referred to, that the beginning of his 43 years' reign happened in the fifth year of Jehoiakim.)
The above discussion has at the same time also furnished us with the means of explaining the apparent contradiction which has been found between Daniel 1:1. and Daniel 2:1., and which has been brought forward as an historical error in argument against the genuineness of the book. According to Daniel 1:3., Nebuchadnezzar after the capture of Jerusalem commanded that young Israelites of noble birth should be carried away to Babylon, and there educated for the space of three years in the literature and wisdom of the Chaldeans; and, according to Daniel 1:18, after the expiry of the appointed time, they were brought in before the king that they might be employed in his service. But these three years of instruction, according to Daniel 2:1., expired in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, when Daniel and his companions were ranked among the wise men of Babylon, and Daniel interpreted to the king his dream, which his Chaldean magi were unable to do (Daniel 2:13., 19ff.). If we observe that Nebuchadnezzar dreamed his dream “in the second year of his reign,” and that he entered on his reign some time after the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of Jehoiakim, them we can understand how the three years appointed for the education of Daniel and his companions came to an end in the second year of his reign; for if Nebuchadnezzar began to reign in the fifth year of Jehoiakim, then in the seventh year of Jehoiakim three years had passed since the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place in the fourth year of this king. For the carrying away of the Israelitish youths followed, without doubt, immediately after the subjugation of Jehoiakim, so that a whole year or more of their period of education had passed before Nebuchadnezzar mounted the throne. This conclusion is not set aside by what Berosus affirms, that Nebuchadnezzar, after he heard of the death of his father, committed the captives he had taken from the Jews to the care of some of his friends that they might be brought after him, while he himself hastened over the desert to Babylon; for that statement refers to the great transport of prisoners who were carried away for the colonization of Central Asia. As little does the consideration that a twofold method of reckoning the year of Nebuchadnezzar's government by Daniel is improbable militate against this reconciliation of the discrepancy, for no such twofold method of reckoning exists. In Daniel 1 the year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign is not given, but Nebuchadnezzar is only named as being king;
(Note: If, on the contrary, Bleek understands from Daniel 1:1 that Nebuchadnezzar had become king of Babylon in the third year of Jehoiakim at Jerusalem, whilst, “perhaps only with the design of making the pretended opposition between Daniel 1:1 and Daniel 2:1 truly evident, he understands the appositional designation בבל מלך as a more definite determination of the meaning of the verb בּא , this idea finds recommendation neither in the position of the words, nor in the expression, Daniel 1:3, nor in the accents.” Kranichfeld, p. 19.)
while in Daniel 2:1 mention is made not merely of the second year of Nebuchadnezzar, but of the second year of his reign, from which it appears that the historian here reckons from the actual commencement of his reign. Also, as Klief., p. 67, has well remarked, one may “easily discover the ground on which Daniel in Daniel 1:1 followed a different mode of reckoning from that adopted in Daniel 2:1. In Daniel 1 Daniel had to do with Israelitish circumstances and persons, and therefore followed, in making reference to Nebuchadnezzar, the general Israelitish mode of contemplation. He reckons his years according to the years of the Israelitish kings, and sees in him already the king; on the contrary, in Daniel 2 Daniel treats of the relations of the world-power, and he reckons here accurately the year of Nebuchadnezzar, the bearer of the world-power, from the day in which, having actually obtained the possession of the world-power, he became king of Babylon.”
If we now, in conclusion, briefly review the results of the preceding discussions, it will be manifest that the following is the course of events: - Necho the king of Egypt, after he had made Jehoiakim his vassal king, went forth on an expedition against the Assyrian kingdom as far as the Euphrates. Meanwhile, however, with the dissolution of the Assyrian kingdom by the fall of Nineveh, the part of that kingdom lying on this side of the Tigris had come under the dominion of the Chaldeans, and the old and enfeebled king Nabopolassar gave to his son Nebuchadnezzar the chief command of the army, with the commission to check the advance of the Egyptians, and to rescue from them the countries they had occupied and bring them again under the Chaldean rule. In consequence of this, Nebuchadnezzar took the field against Hither Asia in the third year of the reign of Jehioakim, and in the first month of the fourth year of Jehoiakim slew Pharaoh-Necho at Carchemish and pursued his army to the confines of Egypt, and in the ninth month of the same year took Jerusalem and made king Jehoiakim his subject. While Nebuchadnezzar was busied in Hither Asia with the subjugation of the countries that had been conquered by Pharaoh-Necho, he received the tidings of the death of his father Nabopolassar in Babylon, and hastened forward with a small guard by the nearest way through the desert to Babylon in order to assume the government, giving directions that the army, along with the whole band of prisoners, should follow him by slow marches. But as soon as the Chaldean army had left Judea and returned to Babylon, Jehoiakim sought how he might throw off the Chaldean yoke, and three years after his subjugation he revolted, probably at a time when Nebuchadnezzar was engaged in establishing his dominion in the East, so that he could not immediately punish this revolt, but contented himself meanwhile with sending against Jehoiakim the armies of Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites, whom he had left behind on the confines of Judah. They were unable, however, to vanquish him as long as he lived. It was only after his son Jehoiachin had ascended the throne that Nebuchadnezzar, as commander of the army, returned with a powerful host to Jerusalem and besieged the city. While the city was being besieged, Nebuchadnezzar came in person to superintend the war. Jehoiachin with his mother, and his chief officers from the city, went out to surrender themselves to the king of Babylon. But Nebuchadnezzar took him as a prisoner, and commanded that the golden vessels of the temple and the treasures of the royal palace should be taken away, and he carried the king with the great men of the kingdom, the men of war, the smiths and craftsmen, as prisoners to Babylon, and made his vassal Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in Jerusalem, under the name of Zedekiah (2 Kings 28:8-17). This happened in the eighth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:12), and thus about six years after Daniel had interpreted his dream (Daniel 2), and had been promoted by him to the rank of president of the wise men in Babylon.
The name נבוּכדנאצּר is written in Daniel 1:1 with , א as it is uniformly in Jeremiah, e.g., Jeremiah 27:6, Jeremiah 27:8, Jeremiah 27:20; Jeremiah 28:3, Jeremiah 28:11, Jeremiah 28:12; Jeremiah 29:1, Jeremiah 29:3, and in the books of the Kings and Chronicles, as 2 Kings 24:1, 2 Kings 24:10-11; 2 Kings 25:1; 2 Chronicles 36:6, 2 Chronicles 36:10, 2 Chronicles 36:13; whereas in Daniel 1:18 it is written without the ', as it is also in Daniel 2:1, Daniel 2:28, Daniel 2:46; Daniel 3:1-3, Daniel 3:5., and Ezra 1:7; Ezra 5:12, Ezra 5:14; Esther 2:6. From this circumstance Hitzig concludes that the statement in Daniel is derived from 2 Kings 24:1, because the manner of writing the name with the is not peculiar to this book (and is not the latest form), but is that of 2 Kings 24:1. Both statements are incorrect. The writings without the א cannot on this account be taken as the latest form, because it is not found in the Chronicles, and that with the א is not peculiar to the second book of Kings, but is the standing form, along with the more national Babylonian form נבוּכדראצּר (with r), in Jeremiah 21:2, Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 35:11; Jeremiah 39:11; Ezekiel 26:7; Ezekiel 29:18; Ezekiel 30:10, which, according to Ménant ( Grammaire Assyrienne, 1868, p. 327), is written in Babylonian inscriptions Nabukudurriusur ( אצר כדר נבו , i.e., Nebo coronam servat ), the inscription of Behistan having the form Nabukudratschara. Megastehenes and Berosus, in Polyhistor, write the name Ναβουκοδρόσορος . The writing Nebuchadnezar, with n and without the , א appears to be the Aramean form, since it prevails in the Chaldean portions of Daniel and Ezra, and accounts for the Masoretic pronunciation of the word (the צּ with Dagesch forte). On other forms of the name, cf. Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs, p. 41f.
“ The Lord gave Jehoiakim into his hands” corresponds with the words in 2 Kings 24:1, “ he became his servant,” and with 2 Chronicles 36:6, “and he bound him in fetters.” “ And part of the vessels of the house of God.” מקצת without the Dag. forte, meaning properly from the end of extremity, is abbreviated from קצה עד מקּצה , cf. Jeremiah 25:33; Genesis 47:21; Exodus 26:28, and shows that “ that which was found from end to end contributed its share; meaning that a great part of the whole was taken, although קצת of itself never means a part ” (Kran.). As to the statement of the text, cf. 2 Chronicles 36:7. These vessels he brought (commanded to be brought) into the land of Shinar, i.e., Babylonia (Genesis 10:10), into the temple of his god, i.e., Bel, and indeed into the treasure-house of this temple. Thus we understand the meaning of the two latter clauses of Daniel 1:2, while Hitz. and Kran., with many older interpreters, refer the suffix in יביאם to Jehoiakim, and also to the vessels, on account of the express contrast in the following words, ואת־הכּלים (Kran.), and because, if it is not stated here, it is nowhere else mentioned that Nebuchadnezzar carried away men also (Hitz.). But the latter fact is expressly affirmed in Daniel 1:3, and not only supposed, as Hitz. alleges, and it was not necessary that it should be expressed in Daniel 1:2. The application of the suffix to Jehoiakim or the Jewish youths who were carried captive is excluded by the connection of יביאם with אלהיו בּית , into the house of his god. But the assertion that בּית , house, here means country, is not proved from Hosea 8:1; Hosea 9:15, nor is warranted by such passages as Exodus 29:45; Numbers 35:34; Ezekiel 37:27, etc., where mention is made of God's dwelling in the land. For God's dwelling in the land is founded on the fact of His gracious presence in the temple of the land, and even in these passages the word land does not stand for the word house. Equally unfounded is the further remark, that if by the expression אלהיו בּית the temple is to be understood, the preposition אל would stand before it, for which Zechariah 11:13; Isaiah 37:23; Genesis 45:25 are appealed to. But such passages have been referred to without observing that in them the preposition אל stands only before living objects, where it is necessary, but not before inanimate objects, such as בּית , where the special object of the motion is with sufficient distinctness denoted by the accusative. The words following, ואת־הכּלים , fall in not as adversative, but explicative: and indeed (or, namely) the vessels brought he into the treasure-house of his god - as booty. The carrying away of a part of the vessels of the temple and a number of the distinguished Jewish youth to Babylon, that they might be there trained for service at the royal court, was a sign and pledge of the subjugation of Judah and its God under the dominion of the kings and the gods of Babylon. Both are here, however, mentioned with this design, that it might be known that Daniel and his three friends, of whom this book gives further account, were among these youths, and that the holy vessels were afterwards fatal (Daniel 5) to the house of the Babylonian king.
The name אשׁפּנז , sounding like the Old Persian Açp , a horse, has not yet received any satisfactory or generally adopted explanation. The man so named was the chief marshal of the court of Nebuchadnezzar. סריסים רב (the word רב used for שׂר , Daniel 1:7, Daniel 1:9, belongs to the later usage of the language, cf. Jeremiah 39:3) means chief commander of the eunuchs, i.e., overseer of the sérail, the Kislar Aga, and then in a wider sense minister of the royal palace, chief of all the officers; since סריס frequently, with a departure from its fundamental meaning, designates only a courtier, chamberlain, attendant on the king, as in Genesis 37:36. The meaning of להביא , more definitely determined by the context, is to lead, i.e., into the land of Shinar, to Babylon. In ישׂראל בּני , Israel is the theocratic name of the chosen people, and is not to be explained, as Hitz. does, as meaning that Benjamin and Levi, and many belonging to other tribes, yet formed part of the kingdom of Judah. וּמן ... וּמזּרע , as well of the seed ... as also. פּרתּמים is the Zend. frathema, Sanscr. prathama , i.e., persons of distinction, magnates. ילדים , the object to להביא , designates youths of from fifteen to twenty years of age. Among the Persians the education of boys by the παιδάγωγαι βασίλειοι began, according to Plato ( Alcib. i. 37), in their fourteenth year, and according to Xenophon ( Cyrop. i. 2), the ἔφηβοι were in their seventeenth year capable of entering into the service of the king. In choosing the young men, the master of the eunuchs was commanded to have regard to bodily perfection and beauty as well as to mental endowments. Freedom from blemish and personal beauty were looked upon as a characteristic of moral and intellectual nobility; cf. Curtius, xvii. 5, 29. מאוּם , blemish, is written with an , as in Job 31:7.
משׂכּיל , skilful, intelligent in all wisdom, i.e., in the subjects of Chaldean wisdom (cf. Daniel 1:17), is to be understood of the ability to apply themselves to the study of wisdom. In like manner the other mental requisites here mentioned are to be understood. דעת ידעי , having knowledge, showing understanding; מדּע מביני , possessing a faculty for knowledge, a strength of judgment. בּהם כּוח ואשׁר , in whom was strength, i.e., who had the fitness in bodily and mental endowments appropriately to stand in the palace of the king, and as servants to attend to his commands. וּללמּדם ( to teach them) is co-ordinate with להביא ( to bring) in Daniel 1:3, and depends on ויּאמר ( and he spake). For this service they must be instructed and trained in the learning and language of the Chaldeans. ספר refers to the Chaldee literature, and in Daniel 1:17 כּל־ספר , and לשׁון to conversation or the power of speaking in that language. כּשׂדּים , Chaldeans, is the name usually given (1) to the inhabitants of the Babylonian kingdom founded by Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar, and (2) in a more restricted sense to the first class of the Babylonish priests and learned men or magi, and then frequently to the whole body of the wise men of Babylon; cf. at Daniel 2:2. In this second meaning the word is here used. The language of the כּשׂדּים is not, as Ros., Hitz., and Kran. suppose, the Eastern Aramaic branch of the Semitic language, which is usually called the Chaldean language; for this tongue, in which the Chaldean wise men answered Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:4.), is called in Daniel 2:4, as well as in Ezra 4:7 and Isaiah 36:11, the ארמית , Aramaic (Syriac), and is therefore different from the language of the כּשׁדּים .
But the question as to what this language used by the Chaldeans was, depends on the view that may be taken of the much controverted question as to the origin of the כּשׂדּים , Χαλδαίοι . The oldest historical trace of the כּשׂדּים lies in the name כּשׂדּים אוּר ( Ur of the Chaldees, lxx χώρα τῶν Χαλδαίων ), the place from which Terah the father of Abraham went forth with his family to Charran in the north of Mesopotamia. The origin of Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees, when taken in connection with the fact (Genesis 22:22) that one of the sons of Nahor, Abraham's brother, was called כּשׂד ( Chesed), whose descendants would be called כּשׂדּים , appears to speak for the origin of the כּשׂדּים from Shem. In addition to this also, and in support of the same opinion, it has been noticed that one of Shem's sons was called ארפּכשׁד ( Arphaxad). But the connection of ארפכשׁד with כּשׂד is unwarrantable; and that Nahor's son כּשׂד was the father of a race called כשׂדים , is a supposition which cannot be established. But if a race actually descended from this כשׂד , then they could be no other than the Bedouin tribe the כּשׂדּים , which fell upon Job's camels (Job 1:17), but not the people of the Chaldees after whom, in Terah's time, Ur was already named. The sojourn of the patriarch Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees finally by no means proves that Terah himself was a Chaldean. He may have been induced also by the advance of the Chaldeans into Northern Mesopotamia to go forth on his wanderings.
This much is at all events unquestionable, and is now acknowledged, that the original inhabitants of Babylonia were of Semitic origin, as the account of the origin of the nations in Gen 10 shows. According to Genesis 10:22, Shem had five sons, Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram, whose descendants peopled and gave name to the following countries: - The descendants of Elam occupied the country called Elymais, between the Lower Tigris and the mountains of Iran; of Asshur, Assyria, lying to the north-the hilly country between the Tigris and the mountain range of Iran; or Arphaxad, the country of Arrapachitis on the Upper Tigris, on the eastern banks of that river, where the highlands of Armenia begin to descend. Lud, the father of the Lydians, is the representative of the Semites who went westward to Asia Minor; and Aram of the Semites who spread along the middle course of the Euphrates to the Tigris in the east, and to Syria in the west. From this M. Duncker ( Gesch. des Alterth.) has concluded: “According to this catalogue of the nations, which shows the extension of the Semitic race from the mountains of Armenia southward to the Persian Gulf, eastward to the mountains of Iran, westward into Asia Minor, we follow the Semites along the course of the two great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, to the south. Northwards from Arphaxad lie the mountains of the Chasdim, whom the Greeks call Chaldaei, Carduchi, Gordiaei, whose boundary toward Armenia was the river Centrites.”
“If we find the name of the Chaldeans also on the Lower Euphrates, if in particular that name designates a region on the western bank of the Euphrates to its mouth, the extreme limit of the fruitful land watered by the Euphrates towards the Arabian desert, then we need not doubt that this name was brought from the Armenian mountains to the Lower Euphrates, and that it owes its origin to the migration of these Chaldeans from the mountains. - Berosus uses as interchangeable the names Chaldea and Babylonia for the whole region between the Lower Euphrates and the Tigris down to the sea. But it is remarkable that the original Semitic name of this region, Shinar, is distinct from that of the Chaldeans; remarkable that the priests in Shinar were specially called Chaldeans, that in the fragments of Berosus the patriarchs were already designated Chaldeans of this or that city, and finally that the native rulers were particularly known by this name. We must from all this conclude, that there was a double migration fro the north to the regions on the Lower Euphrates and Tigris; that they were first occupied by the Elamites, who came down along the Tigris; and that afterwards a band came down from the mountains of the Chaldeans along the western bank of the Tigris, that they kept their flocks for a long time in the region of Nisibis, and faintly that they followed the Euphrates and obtained superiority over the earlier settlers, who had sprung from the same stem (?), and spread themselves westward from the mouth of the Euphrates. The supremacy which was thus established was exercised by the chiefs of the Chaldeans; they were the ruling family in the kingdom which they founded by their authority, and whose older form of civilisation they adopted.”
If, according to this, the Chaldeans are certainly not Semites, then it is not yet decided whether they belonged to the Japhetic race of Aryans, or, as C. Sax
(Note: In the Abhdl. “on the ancient history of Babylon and the nationality of the Cushites and the Chaldeans,” in the Deutsch. morg. Ztschr. xxii. pp. 1-68. Here Sac seeks to prove “that the Chaldeans, identical with the biblical Chasdim, were a tribe ruling from ancient times from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea, and particularly in Babylonia, which at length occupied the southern region from the mouth of the Euphrates to the Armeneo-Pontine range of mountains, but was in Babylonia especially represented by the priest caste and the learned.” This idea the author grounds on the identification of the Bible Cushites with the Scythians of the Greeks and Romans, the evidence for which is for the most part extremely weak, and consists of arbitrary and violent combinations, the inconsistency of which is at once manifest, as e.g., the identification of the כּשׂדּים with the כּסלחים , Genesis 10:14, the conclusions drawn from Ezekiel 29:10 and Ezekiel 38:5. of the spread of the Cushites into Arabia and their reception into the Scythian army of the northern Gog, etc. In general, as Sax presents it, this supposition is untenable, yet it contains elements of truth which are not to be overlooked.)
has recently endeavoured to make probable, to the Hamitic race of Cushites, a nation belonging to the Tartaric (Turamic) family of nations. As to the Aryan origin, besides the relation of the Chaldeans, the Gordiaei, and the Carduchi to the modern Kurds, whose language belongs to the Indo-Germanic, and indeed to the Aryan family of languages, the further circumstance may be referred to: that in Assyria and Babylonia the elements of the Aryan language are found in very ancient times. Yet these two facts do not furnish any conclusive evidence on the point. From the language of the modern Kurds being related to the Aryan language no certain conclusion can be drawn as to the language of the ancient Chaldees, Gordiaei, and Carduchi; and the introduction of Aryan words and appellations into the language of the Semitic Assyrians and Babylonians is fully explained, partly from the intercourse which both could not but maintain with Iranians, the Medes and Persians, who were bordering nations, partly from the dominion exercised for some time over Babylonia by the Iranian race, which is affirmed in the fragments of Berosus, according to which the second dynasty in Babylon after the Flood was the Median. Notwithstanding we would decide in favour of the Aryan origin of the Chaldeans, did not on the one side the biblical account of the kingdom which Nimrod the Cushite founded in Babel and extended over Assyria (Genesis 10:8-12), and on the other the result to which the researches of the learned into the antiquities of Assyria regarding the development of culture and of writing in Babylonia,
(Note: The biblical tradition regarding the kingdom founded by Nimrod in Babel, Duncker (p. 204) has with arbitrary authority set aside, because it is irreconcilable with his idea of the development of Babylonian culture. It appears, however, to receive confirmation from recent researches into the ancient monuments of Babylonia and Assyria, which have led to the conclusion, that of the three kinds of cuneiform letters that of the Babylonian bricks is older than the Assyrian, and that the oldest form originated in an older hieroglyphic writing, of which isolated examples are found in the valley of the Tigris and in Susiana; whence it must be concluded that the invention of cuneiform letters did not take place among the Semites, but among a people of the Tauranian race which probably had in former times their seat in Susiana, or at the mouth of the Euphrates and the Tigris on the Persian Gulf. Cf. Spiegel in Herz.'s Realencyclop., who, after stating this result, remarks: “Thus the fact is remarkable that a people of the Turko-Tartaric race appear as the possessors of a high culture, while people of this tribe appear in the world's history almost always as only destitute of culture, and in many ways hindering civilisation; so that it cannot but be confessed that, so far as matters now are, one is almost constrained to imagine that the state of the case is as follows,” and thus he concludes his history of cuneiform writing: - ”Cuneiform writing arose in ancient times, several thousand years before the birth of Christ, very probably from an ancient hieroglyphic system of writing, in the region about the mouths of the Euphrates and the Tigris on the Persian Gulf. It was found existing by a people of a strange race, belonging neither to the Semites nor to the Indo-Germans. It was very soon, however, adopted by the Semites. The oldest monuments of cuneiform writing belong to the extreme south of the Mesopotamian plain. In the course of time it pressed northward first to Babylon, where it assumed a more regular form than among the Assyrians. From Assyria it may have come among the Indo-Germans first to Armenia; for the specimens of cuneiform writing found in Armenia are indeed in syllabic writing, but in a decidedly Indo-Germanic language. How the syllabic writing was changed into letter-(of the alphabet) writing is as yet obscure. The most recent kind of cuneiform writing which we know, the Old Persian, is decidedly letter-writing.” Should this view of the development of the cuneiform style of writing be confirmed by further investigations, then it may be probable that the Chaldeans were the possessors and cultivators of this science of writing, and that their language and literature belonged neither to the Semitic nor yet to the Indo-Germanic or Aryan family of languages.)
make this view very doubtful.
If, then, for the present no certain answer can be given to the question as to the origin of the Chaldeans and the nature of their language and writing, yet this much may be accepted as certain, that the language and writing of the כּשׂדּים was not Semitic or Aramaic, but that the Chaldeans had in remote times migrated into Babylonia, and there had obtained dominion over the Semitic inhabitants of the land, and that from among this dominant race the Chaldees, the priestly and the learned cast of the Chaldeans, arose. This caste in Babylon is much older than the Chaldean monarchy founded by Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel and his companions were to be educated in the wisdom of the Chaldean priests and learned men, which was taught in the schools of Babylon, at Borsippa in Babylonia, and Hipparene in Mesopotamia (Strab. xvi. 1, and Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 26). Daniel 1:5. To this end Nebuchadnezzar assigned to them for their support provision from the king's household, following Oriental custom, according to which all officers of the court were fed from the king's table, as Athen. iv. 10, p. 69, and Plut. probl. vii. 4, testify regarding the Persians. This appears also (1 Kings 5:2-3) to have been the custom in Israel. בּיומו יום דּבר , the daily portion, cf. Exodus 5:13, Exodus 5:19; Jeremiah 52:34, etc. פּתבּג comes from path, in Zend. paiti, Sanscr. prati = προτί, πρός , and bag, in Sanscr. bhâga , portion, provision, cf. Ezekiel 25:7. With regard to the composition, cf. The Sanscr. pratibhâgha , a portion of fruits, flowers, etc., which the Rajah daily requires for his household; cf. Gildemeister in Lassen's Zeits.f. d. Kunde des Morg. iv. 1, p. 214. פּתבּג therefore means neither ambrosia, nor dainties, but generally food, victuals, food of flesh and meal in opposition to wine, drink ( משׁתּיו is singular), and vegetables (Daniel 1:12).
The king also limits the period of their education to three years, according to the Persian as well as the Chaldean custom. וּלגדּלם does not depend on ויּאמר (Daniel 1:3), but is joined with וימן , and is the final infinitive with ו explicative, meaning, and that he may nourish them. The infinitive is expressed by the fin. verb יעמדוּ , to stand before (the king). The carrying out of the king's command is passed over as a matter of course, yet it is spoken of as obeyed (cf. Daniel 1:6.).
Daniel and his three friends were among the young men who were carried to Babylon. They were of the sons of Judah, i.e., of the tribe of Judah. From this it follows that the other youths of noble descent who had been carried away along with them belonged to other tribes. The name of none of these is recorded. The names only of Daniel and his three companions belonging to the same tribe are mentioned, because the history recorded in this book specially brings them under our notice. As the future servants of the Chaldean king, they received as a sign of their relation to him other names, as the kings Eliakim and Mattaniah had their names changed (2 Kings 23:34; 2 Kings 24:17) by Necho and Nebuchadnezzar when they made them their vassals. But while these kings had only their paternal names changed for other Israelitish names which were given to them by their conquerors, Daniel and his friends received genuine heathen names in exchange for their own significant names, which were associated with that of the true God. The names given to them were formed partly from the names of Babylonish idols, in order that thereby they might become wholly naturalized, and become estranged at once from the religion and the country of their fathers.
(Note: “The design of the king was to lead these youths to adopt the customs of the Chaldeans, that they might have nothing in common with the chosen people.” - Calvin.)
Daniel, i.e., God will judge, received the name Belteshazzar, formed from Bel, the name of the chief god of the Babylonians. Its meaning has not yet been determined. Hananiah, i.e., the Lord is gracious, received the name Shadrach, the origin of which is wholly unknown; Mishael, i.e., who is what the Lord is, was called Meshach, a name yet undeciphered; and Azariah, i.e., the Lord helps, had his name changed into Abednego, i.e., slave, servant of Nego or Nebo, the name of the second god of the Babylonians (Isaiah 46:1), the ב being changed by the influence of ב in עבד into ג (i.e., Nego instead of Nebo).
The command of the king, that the young men should be fed with the food and wine from the king's table, was to Daniel and his friends a test of their fidelity to the Lord and to His law, like that to which Joseph was subjected in Egypt, corresponding to the circumstances in which he was placed, of his fidelity to God (Genesis 39:7.). The partaking of the food brought to them from the king's table was to them contaminating, because forbidden by law; not so much because the food was not prepared according to the Levitical ordinance, or perhaps consisted of the flesh of animals which to the Israelites were unclean, for in this case the youths were not under the necessity of refraining from the wine, but the reason of their rejection of it was, that the heathen at their feasts offered up in sacrifice to their gods a part of the food and the drink, and thus consecrated their meals by a religious rite; whereby not only he who participated in such a meal participated in the worship of idols, but the meat and the wine as a whole were the meat and the wine of an idol sacrifice, partaking of which, according to the saying of the apostle (1 Corinthians 10:20.), is the same as sacrificing to devils. Their abstaining from such food and drink betrayed no rigorism going beyond the Mosaic law, a tendency which first showed itself in the time of the Maccabees. What, in this respect, the pious Jews did in those times, however (1 Macc. 1:62f.; 2 Macc. 5:27), stands on the ground of the law; and the aversion to eat anything that was unclean, or to defile themselves at all in heathen lands, did not for the first time spring up in the time of the Maccabees, nor yet in the time of the exile, but is found already existing in these threatenings in Hosea 9:3., Amos 7:17. Daniel's resolution to refrain from such unclean food flowed therefore from fidelity to the law, and from stedfastness to the faith that “man lives not by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3), and from the assurance that God would bless the humbler provision which he asks for himself, and would by means of it make him and his friends as strong and vigorous as the other youths who did eat the costly provision from the king's table. Firm in this conviction, he requested the chief chamberlain to free him and his three friends from the use of the food and drink brought from the royal table. And the Lord was favourable to him, so that his request was granted.
לחסד נתן , to procure favour for any one, cf. 1 Kings 8:30; Psalms 106:46; Nehemiah 1:11. The statement that God gave Daniel favour with the chief chamberlain, refers to the fact that he did not reject the request at once, as one not to be complied with, or as punishable, but, esteeming the religious conviction out of which it sprang, pointed only to the danger into which a disregard of the king's command would bring him, thus revealing the inclination of his heart to grant the request. This willingness of the prince of the eunuchs was the effect of divine grace.
The words למּה אשׁר = שׂלּמּה (Song of Solomon 1:7), for why should he see? have the force of an emphatic denial, as למּה in Genesis 47:15, Genesis 47:19; 2 Chronicles 32:4, and as למה דּי in Ezra 7:23, and are equivalent to “he must not indeed see.” זעפים , morose, disagreeable, looking sad, here, a pitiful look in consequence of inferior food, corresponding to σκυθρωπός in Matthew 6:16. פּני is to be understood before הילדים , according to the comparatio decurtata frequently found in Hebrew; cf. Psalms 4:8; Psalms 18:34, etc. וחיּבתּם with ו relat. depends on למּה : and ye shall bring into danger, so that ye bring into danger. את־ראשׁ חיּב , make the head guilty, i.e., make it that one forfeits his head, his life.
When Daniel knew from the answer of the chief that he would grant the request if he were only free from personal responsibility in the matter, he turned himself to the officer who was under the chief chamberlain, whom they were immediately subject to, and entreated him to make trial for ten days, permitting them to use vegetables and water instead of the costly provision and the wine furnished by the king, and to deal further with them according as the result would be. המּלצר , having the article, is to be regarded as an appellative, expressing the business of the calling of the man. The translation, steward or chief cook, is founded on the explanation of the word as given by Haug (Ewald's bibl. Jahrbb. v. p. 159f.) from the New Persian word mel, spirituous liquors, wine, corresponding to the Zendh. madhu ( μεθυ ), intoxicating drink, and = צר çara , Sanscr. çiras , the head; hence overseer over the drink, synonymous with רבשׁקה , Isaiah 36:2. - נס נא , try, I beseech thee, thy servants, i.e., try it with us, ten days. Ten, in the decimal system the number of completeness or conclusion, may, according to circumstances, mean a long time or only a proportionally short time. Here it is used in the latter sense, because ten days are sufficient to show the effect of the kind of food on the appearance. זרעים , food from the vegetable kingdom, vegetables, leguminous fruit. Daniel 1:13. מראינוּ is singular, and is used with יראוּ in the plural because two subjects follow. כּאשׁר תּראה , as thou shalt see, viz., our appearance, i.e., as thou shalt then find it, act accordingly. In this proposal Daniel trusted in the help of God, and God did not put his confidence to shame.
(Note: The request is perfectly intelligible from the nature of living faith, without our having recourse to Calvin's supposition, that Daniel had received by secret revelation the assurance that such would be the result if he and his companions were permitted to live on vegetables. The confidence of living faith which hopes in the presence and help of God is fundamentally different from the eager expectation of miraculous interference of a Maccabean Jew, which C. v. Lengerke and other deists and atheists wish to find here in Daniel.)
The youths throve so visibly on the vegetables and water, that the steward relieved them wholly from the necessity of eating from the royal table. Daniel 1:15. בּשׂר בּריאי , fat, well nourished in flesh, is grammatically united to the suffix of מראיהם , from which the pronoun is easily supplied in thought. Daniel 1:16. נשׂא , took away = no more gave.
The progress of the young men in the wisdom of the Chaldeans, and their appointment to the service of the king.
As God blessed the resolution of Daniel and his three friends that they would not defile themselves by the food, He also blessed the education which they received in the literature ( ספר , Daniel 1:17 as Daniel 1:4) and wisdom of the Chaldeans, so that the whole four made remarkable progress therein. But besides this, Daniel obtained an insight into all kinds of visions and dreams, i.e., he attained great readiness in interpreting visions and dreams. This is recorded regarding him because of what follows in this book, and is but a simple statement of the fact, without any trace of vainglory. Instruction in the wisdom of the Chaldeans was, besides, for Daniel and his three friends a test of their faith, since the wisdom of the Chaldeans, from the nature of the case, was closely allied to the Chaldean idolatry and heathen superstition, which the learners of this wisdom might easily be led to adopt. But that Daniel and his friends learned only the Chaldean wisdom without adopting the heathen element which was mingled with it, is evidenced from the stedfastness in the faith with which at a later period, at the danger of their lives (cf. Daniel 3:6), they stood aloof from all participation in idolatry, and in regard to Daniel in particular, from the deep glance into the mysteries of the kingdom of God which lies before us in his prophecies, and bears witness of the clear separation between the sacred and the profane. But he needed to be deeply versed in the Chaldean wisdom, as formerly Moses was in the wisdom of Egypt (Acts 7:22), so as to be able to put to shame the wisdom of this world by the hidden wisdom of God.
After the expiry of the period of three years the youths were brought before the king. They were examined by him, and these four were found more intelligent and discriminating than all the others that had been educated along with them ( מכּלּם , “than all,” refers to the other Israelitish youths, Daniel 1:3, that had been brought to Babylon along with Daniel and his friends), and were then appointed to his service. יעמדוּ , as in Daniel 1:5, of standing as a servant before his master. The king found them indeed, in all matters of wisdom about which he examined them, to excel all the wise men in the whole of his kingdom. Of the two classes of the learned men of Chaldea, who are named instar omnium in Daniel 1:20, see at Daniel 2:2.
In Daniel 1:21 the introduction to the book is concluded with a general statement as to the period of Daniel's continuance in the office appointed to him by God. The difficulty which the explanation of ויהי offers is not removed by a change of the reading into ויחי , since Daniel, according to Daniel 10:1, lived beyond the first year of Cyrus and received divine revelations. עד marks the terminus ad quem in a wide sense, i.e., it denotes a termination without reference to that which came after it. The first year of king Cyrus is, according to 2 Chronicles 36:22; Ezra 1:1; Ezra 6:3, the end of the Babylonish exile, and the date, “to the first year of king Cyrus,” stands in close relation to the date in Daniel 1:1, Nebuchadnezzar's advance against Jerusalem and the first taking of the city, which forms the commencement of the exile; so that the statement, “Daniel continued unto the first year of king Cyrus,” means only that he lived and acted during the whole period of the exile in Babylon, without reference to the fact that his work continued after the termination of the exile. Cf. The analogous statement, Jeremiah 1:2., that Jeremiah prophesied in the days of Josiah and Jehoiakim to the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, although his book contains prophecies also of a date subsequent to the taking of Jerusalem. ויהי stands neither for ויחי , he lived, nor absolutely in the sense of he existed, was present; for though היה means existere, to be, yet it is never used absolutely in this sense, as חיּה , to live, but always only so that the “how” or “where” of the being or existence is either expressly stated, or at least is implied in the connection. Thus here also the qualification of the “being” must be supplied from the context. The expression will then mean, not that he lived at the court, or in Babylon, or in high esteem with the king, but more generally, in the place to which God had raised him in Babylon by his wonderful endowments.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Daniel 1". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany