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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Daniel 1

Verses 1-21


Chapters 1–6

1. Introduciton. The Early History of Daniel and his Three Associates

Daniel 1:1-21

1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar 2king of Babylon unto Jerusalem and besieged it.1 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with [and] part of the vessels of the house of God, which [and] he carried [them] into the land of Shinar, to the house of his god;2 and he brought the vessels into the treasure-house3 of his god.2

3And the king spake4 unto Ashpenaz the master5 of his eunuchs, that he should bring [to bring] certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed,6 and of the 4princes;7 children8 in whom was no blemish, but [and] well-favoured,9 and skilful10 in all wisdom, and cunning11 in knowledge, and understanding12 science, and such as had ability13 in them [in whom was ability] to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach14 the learning15 and the tongue of the Chaldæans.

5And the king appointed them a daily provision16 of the king’s meat,17 and of the wine which he drank; so nourishing [, and to make grow] them three years, that [; and] at the end thereof they might [should] stand before the king.

6Now [And] among these [them] were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah 7[Chananyah], Mishael, and Azariah; unto whom [and to them] the prince of the eunuchs gave [assigned] names: for he gave [and he assigned] unto Daniel, the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego.

8But [And] Daniel purposed in18 his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat,17 nor [and] with the wine which he drank: therefore [and] he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile 9himself. Now [And] God had brought [gave] Daniel into favour and tender love19 with [before] the prince of the eunuchs. 10And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat [food] and your drink:20 for why should he see your faces worse liking [more gloomy] than the children8 which are of your sort?21 then shall [, and should] ye make me endanger my head to the king?

11Then [And] said Daniel to [the] Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 12Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat,22 and water to drink. 13Then [And] let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children8 that eat of the portion of the king’s meat;17 and as thou seest [shalt see], deal [do] with thy servants. 14So he consented [And he hearkened] to them in [as to] this matter, and proved them ten days. 15And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared [countenance was seen to be good] fairer and [they were] fatter in [of] flesh than all the children8 which did 16 eat the portion of the king’s meat.23 Thus [And the] Melzar took away the portion of their meat,17 and the wine that they should drink and gave them pulse.24

17[And] As for these four children,25 God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning26 and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions [every vision] and dreams.

18Now, [And] at the end of the days that the king had said27 he should [to] bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchad nezzar. 19And the king communed [spake] with them: and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore 20[and] stood they before the king. And in all matters [every matter] of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, [then] he found them ten times better than28 all the magicians29 and astrologers30 that were in all his realm.

21And Daniel continued31 even unto the first year of king Cyrus.


Daniel 1:1-2. The transportation to Babylon, by Nebuchadnezzar. In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim. We have already, shown, in the Introd, § 8, note 2, that this does not conflict with Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 25:9.—Came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem, and besieged it, i.e., he departed for Jerusalem, in order to besiege it; he began his expedition against Jerusalem, which resulted in the siege of that city. For the view that בּוֹא is here to be taken in the sense of “departing,” see the Introd., § 8, 2, a—Instead of הֵצַר עַל, to straiten, besiege, we generally find elsewhere הֵצַר with the dative, e. g., Deuteronomy 28:52; 1 Kings 8:37.—The form of the name נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר is the one in general use among the later Hebrew writers (cf. 2 Kings 24:1; 2 Kings 25:1; Ezra 2:1; Ezra 5:12, etc.). Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1; Jeremiah 39:11; DanJer43:10) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 29:18) have נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר, which corresponds more exactly to the older rendering Nabukudurr-usur, as found in the Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions, and also to the nearly identical Persian form Nabukhadraçara, which occurs at Behistun (see Oppert, Journ. Asiat., 1851, p. 416; Expédit. en Mésopoťamie, 2:257 ss). The name certainly comprehends, as its first element, the name of the Chaldæan god Nebo,=Mercury (נְבוֹ, Isaiah 46:1), and it seems also to include the terms kadr, “might,” and zar=שַׂר, “prince” (compare Gesenius, Thesaur., p 890; Oppert, 1:100). The name is rendered with either n or r by Greek authors; for while Strabo (15, Daniel 1:6) writers Ναβοκοδρόσορος, Berosus (in Josephus contr. Ap., 1:20,21) has Ναβουχοδορόσορος, and the Sept. Ναβουχοδονόσορ. Instead of גְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר, however, our book elsewhere has uniformly ־נֶצּר, omitting the euphonic א; cf. נּוֹ, Daniel 3:25; Daniel 7:15, instead of נּוֹא, Daniel 3:6; Daniel 3:11, etc.; Daniel 4:7.

[According to Ptolemy’s chronological canon of the reigns of the Babylonian kings, Nebuchadnezzar became king near the close of B.C. 605, whereas his expedition in question, falling in the third year of Jehoiakim, occurred late in B.C. 607, and the capture of the city, in Jehoiakim’s fourth year, fell about the middle of B.C. 606. It appears, however (Josephus Antiq. x. 11, 1), that his father, Nabopolassar, during his own lifetime, and near the close of his reign, had sent him to repel Pharaoh-Necho at Carchemish, and on his way back, Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, as related by Daniel. While he was engaged in this campaign, his father died, and he hastened back to Babylon in order to assume the reins of government. By the Jews, therefore, his reign is naturally reckoned from the date of this conquering expedition, although he did not actually become full king at Babylon till a year or more later.]

Daniel 1:2. And the Lord gaveinto his hand, i.e., into his power. Compare Genesis 9:2; Genesis 9:20; Exodus 4:21; 2 Samuel 18:2; also Psalms 95:7, etc. The designation of Jehovah simply as “Lord” (אֲדֹנָי) is not confined to later writers, e.g., Ezra 10:3; Nehemiah 1:11, but occurs as early as Genesis 18:27; Judges 13:8; Psalms 16:2; Psalms 35:28, etc.—Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Jehoiakim reigned eleven years, according to 2 Kings 23:36; 2 Chronicles 36:5, while the conquest by Nebuchadnezzar here referred to can hardly have taken place later than the fourth year of this reign (see Introd. § 8, Note 2, and particularly what is there remarked in opposition to Kranichfeld). Hence it is impossible to consider the passage before us as describing a conquest which put an end to the rule of Jehoiakim, but rather an event which resulted in his becoming the vassal of Nebuchadnezzar; or, more correctly, of Nabopolassar, who was yet living. Similarly, what follows does not assert an actual banishment of Jehoiakim, but merely his temporary removal to Babylon, and perhaps not even this.—And a part of the vessels of the house of God, i.e., of the sacred vessels of the temple, which are again mentioned in Daniel 5:2 et seq.32מִקְצָת, instead of which several manuscripts have מִקְּצָת (cf. Theodotion’s ἀπὸ μέρους), is compounded of קְּצָת “end,” and the preposition מִן, and, therefore; its literal meaning is “from the end,” “on expiration,” in which sense it occurs in Daniel 1:5; Daniel 1:15; Daniel 1:18 of this chapter. In this place, where it serves to designate a quantity instead of denoting time, it evidently expresses the idea of an integral part, a considerable part, like the Chaldee מִן קְצָת in Daniel 2:42, and like מִקְצָת in Nehemiah 7:70. In explaining this meaning it is not necessary to assume (with Hitzig) that קְצָת may here be equivalent to “a part,” for the word bears this sense in no other instance. The word, rather, indicates that the store in question, from end to end, has contributed a share, and throughout its extent some portion has been taken away. Hence “from the end of the vessels of the temple” signifies merely a portion of all its vessels. Cf. Kranichfeld on this passage; Gesen.-Dietrich s. v. קצת, [Fürst, however (Heb. Lex. s. v.), adopts the simple explanation that מִקְצָת is merely an alternative form of קְצָת, and this is certainly corroborated by the form וּלְמִקְצָת, Daniel 1:18, where two prepositions cannot be tolerated.] This view is also essentially established by 2 Chronicles 36:7 : וּמִכְּלֵי בֵית יְהוָֹה הֵבִיא נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר לְבָבֶל.—Which he carried into the land of Shinar; rather, “And he caused them to be brought to the land of Shinar,”—to Babylonia, which province is here called by the ancient name that occurs outside of Genesis (see Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:2; Genesis 14:1), only in the elevated language of the prophets, e.g., in Isaiah 11:11; Zechariah 5:11.—The suffix in וַיְבִיאֵם “and he caused them to be taken away,” can hardly be taken (as do Hävern. and others) as referring exclusively to the sacred vessels, the mention of which immediately precedes this sentence; for the following words refer to them again, and thus distinguish them as a particular of the collective object of the verb הברא.33 We are not obliged, however, to include the king Jehoiakim among those who were carried away with the sacred utensils; for while the narrative in its progress postulates the presence in Babylon of Jewish youths belonging to the royal and to noble families, it never implies the presence of the king himself (cf. Daniel 1:3; Daniel 1:6; also Daniel 1:13); and while it is related in 2 Chronicles 36:6, that Nebuchadnezzar bound Jehoiakim “in fetters, to carry him to Babylon,” it is not expressly stated that he executed that purpose. The Sept. (καὶ ἔὀησεν αὐτὸν ἐν χαλκαις πέδαις καὶ ἁνήγαγεν αὐτὸν εἰς Βαβυλῶνα) first imposed this sense on the passage, because they felt compelled to assume an actual deportation of Jehoiakim, followed by his return to Jerusalem at a later period—an opinion which was shared by the writer of the 3d Book of Esdras and the Vulgate, and by several rabbins of the Middle Ages, e.g., Ibn-Ezra. While the passage before us does not directly contradict this assumption, which represents the fate of Jehoiakim as very similar to that of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:13), it does not necessarily compel its adoption. Jehoiakim may be included among the transported Jews who are designated by the plural suffix in ויביאם; but, on the other hand, the suffix may, in addition to the temple-vessels, simply designate a band of noble Jews, whom the conqueror carried away as hostages, and to which the youth referred to in Daniel 1:3 et seq. belonged—hence those יְהוּדִים, whose presence may be gathered from the collective singular יְהוּדָה, to which reference has already been made (Kranichfeld; cf. Ibn-Ezra, Maldonat, Geier, and others; also Bertheau in Kurzge fasstes exeg. Handbuch zur Chronil, p. 427).—To the house of his god—rather “to the dwelling-place of his gods.” בֵּית־אֱלֹחָיו is probably to be regarded as in opposition with אֶרֶץ שִׁנְצָר; for the sacred vessels of the temple at Jerusalem, as has been shown, formed only a part of the object in וַיְבִיאֵם; and, besides, if בֵּית־אֱלֹחָיו in this place were intended to designate the temple of Nebuchadnezzar’s god (or gods), usage would require the particle אֶל in order to manifest the object towards which the motion is directed (see Genesis 31:4; Isaiah 37:23; Zechariah 11:13). The correct view is stated by Hitzig and Kranichfeld, who refer to Hosea 8:1; Hosea 9:15; Exodus 29:45; Numbers 35:3, etc., in support of the tropical signification, which takes בית in the sense of “land or dwelling-place.” [Keil, however, shows the inaccuracy of this criticism, on grammatical grounds. Moreover, in this way the distinction evidently intended between the different classes of objects transported, is wholly taken away; the persons were merely removed to Babylon, but the utensils were lodged in a heathen temple, as they before had belonged to Jehovah’s. The parallel history, 2 Chronicles 36:6-7, states all this explicitly. Daniel here merely rehearses the facts in a general way, but is nevertheless careful to mention the disposal, both of the captives, of whom he was himself one (Daniel 2:25), and the vessels, which afterwards became so important in his narrative (Daniel 5:2; Daniel 5:23).] Whether the genitive אֱלֹחָיו be translated “of his gods” (cf. Daniel 2:47; Daniel 3:29; Daniel 4:6; Daniel 4:15) or “of his god,” is unimportant. In the latter case, the reference is to Bel, the chief divinity of the Babylonians; cf. Isaiah 41:1; Jeremiah 50:2; Jeremiah 51:44.—And he brought the vessels into the treasure-house of his gods (or “his god,” viz.: Bel). On בֵּית אוֹצָר, treasure-house γαζοφυλάκιον, compare Malachi 3:10; Nehemiah 13:5; Nehemiah 13:12-13, where the treasury of the second temple is the subject of remark. There is no contradiction between this passage and Daniel 5:2 et seq. where the sacred vessels are profaned by Belshazzar, and thus appear to have been stored in his palace. Belshazzar was not Nebuchadnezzar, and it is conceivable that the son could trample in the mire what his father and predecessor had valued and reserved (cf. Ephr. Syr. on this passage). Nor is there a contradiction of 2 Chronicles 36:7; the statement in that passage: “And he put them in his palace” (בְּחֵיכָלוֹ; A. V. “temple”), is merely less exact than the one before us; [or rather, perhaps, הֵיכָל is then used in its frequent signification of temple, as all the older versions render, and the suffix “his” designates it as that of his favorite deity].

Daniel 1:3-4. The selection of youthful Jews of noble rank for service at the royal court. And the king spake unto (commanded) Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs. אַשְׁפְּנַז, a name, whose formation is very similar to that of אַשְׁכְּנַז, Genesis 10:3, but not to be identified with it on that account (as Hitzig suggests) without further inquiry. It appears to be of Indo-Germanic origin, and, according to Rödiger, is compounded of the Sanscrit açva, “horse,” and nasa, “nose.” It is, therefore, equivalent to “horse-nose.”—רַב סָרִיסִים, the chief of the eunuchs (Sept. ἀρχιεύνουχος; Vulgate, prœpositus eunuchorum), an important and influential officer of the palace at Oriental courts, as may be shown from the position of the Kislar-Aga at the Turkish court in our day. However, neither he nor his subordinates are to be regarded as actual eunuchs, but rather as ordinary chamberlains (Luther: “oberster Kämmerer”). Compare Genesis 37:36; Genesis 39:1; Genesis 39:7, where Joseph’s master at the court of Pharaoh is called סָרִיס, although he was married; also 1 Samuel 8:15; 1 Kings 22:9; 1 Kings 1:0 Kings 25:19, etc., in all of which the rendering of סָרִיס by “chamberlain” or court-official is adequate. However, the subordinates of Ashpenaz, mentioned in the passage under consideration, may be regarded as actual eunuchs (as also those in Esther 1:10; Esther 1:12; Esther 1:15; Esther 2:3; Esther 2:14; Esther 4:5), without necessitating the conclusion that Daniel and his associates also became eunuchs, on their being placed under his supervision. Only a grossly carnal conception of the facts narrated in this chapter, and of Isaiah’s prophecy, Isaiah 39:7 (where סריס likewise means [or may mean] an official generally) could lead to this opinion, which is entertained by a number of Jewish and older Christian commentators, e.g., Josephus, Antiquit., Daniel 10:11; the Targum, on Esther 4:5; Rashi, on Daniel 1:21; Origen Homil. 4 on Ezek.; Jerome, adv. Jovin. Daniel 1:1; and Joh. Damascenus, De fide orthod. Dan 4:25.34 It is not even possible to argue from the relations of Daniel to the master of the eunuchs, as indicated in this passage, that the prophet always remained unmarried (as Pseudo-Epiphanius De vit. prophet., c. 10, Cornelius a Lapide, Huetius, and others, suggest). See the Introd., § 2.—That he should bring certain of the children of Israeli.e., to choose of the children of Israel, viz.: of the Jews, who had been carried to Babylon as hostages, cf. Daniel 1:2. The more comprehensive. phrase, “the children of Israel,” is justified by the fact that the theocratic state under Jehoiakim included all of the tribes of Benjamin and Levi, and at least fragments of several other tribes, especially of Simeon (2 Chronicles 15:9), in addition to the leading tribe of Judah.—And of the king’s seed, and of the princes—rather, “of the royal seed, as well as of the number of nobles.” Instead of this correlative view of the two וְ’s—the only correct view—which is found in Von Lengerke, and in Hitzig, and others, Bertholdt, without reason, adopts the designative (either—or), while a majority, including Hävernick, take the first וְ (before זֶרע, which, however, is wanting in several of Kennicott’s and De Rossi’s manuscripts,—but the authenticity of which is not, on that account, to be questioned) in the sense of “and indeed,” “namely,”—hence as marking the use of an emphatic apposition. Our view is supported by parallel passages, such as Daniel 7:20; Daniel 8:13, etc.—The term הַפַּרְתְּמִים, “nobles,” “magnates,” which occurs only here and in Esther 1:3; Esther 6:9, seems to be borrowed from the Persian, and to be equivalent to the Pehlevi pardom, “the first,” “the noble;” cf. the Sanscrit prathama, Zend frathema, Greek πρω̆τος. Its derivation from the Greek πρότιμοι, essayed by Bertholdt, as well as the opinion which prevailed among older expositors, that the word is of Hebrew origin, and perhaps related to פרת, invaluit, are to be decisively rejected. The corresponding term in Hebrew is אֵילִים, the strong or powerful ones: Exodus 15:15; Ezekiel 17:13, 2 Kings 24:15.

Daniel 1:4. Children in whom was no blemish, i.e., no physical fault; hence, of faultless beauty; compare 2 Samuel 14:25. (Cf. the form מאוּם in the Kethib in this place with Job 31:7.) Corporeal soundness and a handsome form were considered indispensible among the ancient Orientals (cf. Curtius, 6:5, 29), for those who were destined for court service,—a view which is still shared by the Turks; see Rieaut Gegenwärt. Zustand des türk. Reiches, i. 13.—The indefinite יְלָדִים does not admit of a definite conclusion respecting the age of the youths, and particularly of Daniel. The remark in Plato, Alcib. 1. § 37, however, according to which the training of the Persian youth by the παιδαγωγοἰ βασιλεῐοι began with the 14th year, has a certain importance for speculations on this question, which is enhanced by the statement of Xenophon, Cyrop. Daniel 1:2, that none of the ἔφηβοι might enter the service of the king before they attained their 17th year. What is said in Daniel 1:5 concerning a period of three years during which Daniel was in training, corresponds remarkably with these statements.—Skilful in all wisdom. The intellectual qualifications are immediately connected with the physical. Hävernick, Hitzig, and others, are correct in taking מַשְׂכִּילִים in the sense of “discerning, understanding,” rather than “versed, or experienced,”—as denoting aptitudo rather than habitus. “חכמה , as כל indicates, is the objective wisdom, which is displayed in the various fields of knowledge, and, according to Daniel 1:17, is contained in books” (Hitzig)—hence scientific, as distinguished from the purely practical wisdom, which elsewhere is generally referred to.—Cunning in knowledge, and understanding; literally “knowing knowledge” (יֹדְיַ דַעַת and “understanding thought” (וְבִינֵי מַדָּע). On מַדָּע “thought” (elsewhere “knowledge”), compare Ecclesiastes 10:20, and on both phrases compare Daniel 2:21; Nehemiah 10:29.—And such as had ability in them, to stand in the king’s palace, literally “who had power (כּחַ, here [perhaps] ability, talent; compare Daniel 8:7; Daniel 11:15) to stand in the king’s palace” (לַעֲמֹד בְּהֵיכַל הַמֶּלֶךְ,—for which בה׳ לַעֲבֹד is not to be substituted). “To stand in the king’s palace” is the same as “to stand beford the king” (cf. Genesis 18:8; Genesis 41:40; Deuteronomy 1:38, etc.), i.e., to await his commands, to serve him. See below, Daniel 1:17, and compare the absolute הָעֹמְדִים, the servants, in Zechariah 3:7; also Esther 5:2.—And whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldæans; literally, “and to teach them the learning,” etc. וּלְלַמְּדָם depends on the verb וַיֹּאמֶר Daniel 1:3, and is co-ordinate with לְהָבִיא in the same verse, as the preceding athnâch indicates.—ספר, “writing,” does not in this place denote the art of writing, but the learning of the Chaldæans; compare כָּל־סֵפֶר Daniel 1:17, which can only be equivalent to all learning, “all literary knowledge.” Further, לְשׁוֹן כַּשְׂדִּים can hardly signify the Aramæan idiom which begins with Daniel 2:4, but designates the original Chaldee, which was of Japhetic origin, or tinctured with Japhetic elements—as Michaelis, Bertholdt, Winer, Hävernck, Lengerke, Hengstenberg, and others, hold.35 That the noble Jewish youths should be compelled to learn the Aramæan dialect, which, according to 2 Kings 18:26 et seq. (Isaiah 36:11), was the official language both at the Assyrian and the Babylonian courts, admits, indeed, of an easy explanation; since the Jews of that time were but slightly acquainted with that dialect (cf. 2 Kings, in the above mentioned place), and since youth especially, of whatever rank, could not have been instructed in this language, which was indeed related to the Hebrew, but was nevertheless a foreign tongue. The view which identifies the “tongue of the Chaldæans” with the official Aramæan of the court, is untenable because of the circumstance that the latter is introduced in Daniel 2:4 by the term אֲרָמִית (cf. Isaiah 36:11; Ezra 4:7), and is thus clearly distinguished from the ordinary language of the כַּשְׂדִּים. (See notes on that passage, and compare Introd. § 1, note 3.)

Daniel 1:5. The provision for the selected youth, and their training. And the king appointed them a daily, etc. “Them,” i.e., those who should be selected, but whom the king did not yet know. מִנָּה, to ordain, appoint, assignare, compare Daniel 1:10.—דְּבַר יוֹם בִּיוֹמוֹ, literally, “matter of the day in its day,” i.e., a daily supply, or ration. Compare Jeremiah 52:34, where the same expression is used with reference to the daily food of the captive Jehoiachin; also Exodus 5:13; Exodus 5:19; Leviticus 23:7, etc.—Of the king’s meat,—of which, according to Oriental custom, not only noble guests (cf. Jer. as cited above), but also all the servants and officials were accustomed to partake, compare 1 Kings 5:2-3; and concerning the custom in question at the Persian court, see Athenæus, Daniel 4:10, p. 69; Plutarch, Probl. vii. 4.—פַּתְבָּג “meat,” really delicacies, luxurious food, is of Persian origin,—a composite word formed out of bag, “tribute” (cf. Sanscrit bhaga, “allowance,” “ration”), and the preposition paiti, “towards, to,” (=Sanscrit prati, Greek προτί, πρός)—and hence is equivalent to “apportioned food,” which sense is also expressed by the Sanscrit pratibhaga, which designates the daily proportion of fruits, flowers, etc., required by the rajah in his household. Cf. Gildemeister in the Zeitschrift für Kunde den Morgenlandes, iv. 214.—And of the wine which he drank, properly “of the wine of his drinking,” his banquet. מִשְׁתָּיו is to be taken in the singular in this place, as well as in Daniel 1:8; Daniel 1:10.—So nourishing them three years, rather, “and (commanded) to instruct them three years”—-properly “educate,” “bring up” [but literally, “to make great ”—perhaps referring primarily to their physical culture]. The infinitive וּלְגַדְּלָם with a copulative ו certainly does not depend on וַיֹּאמֶר in Daniel 1:3; but rather is to be regarded as governed by וַיְמן, from whose signification the idea of commanding, ordaining, is zeugmatically derived. Compare מִנָּח in Daniel 1:11; also Jonah 2:1.—That at the end thereof they might stand before the king, i.e., after the three years had expired. “To stand before the king” is “to serve him,” cf. Daniel 1:3. [“Standing was the position of waiters in readiness to do their master’s will.”—Stuart.]

Daniel 1:6-7. The names of Daniel and his associates, and their changing.Now among these were of the children of Judah, hence, belonging to the most prominent tribe, after which the entire nation was usually called, even at that early period. The four youths are here shown to be Jewish פַּרְתָּמִים (Daniel 1:3); but it does not follow from this passage that all of them, and Daniel in particular, were, in addition, of royal family (מִזֶרַע הַמְּלוּכָה. Daniel 1:3).36 The royal descent of Daniel can only be conjectured; that Zedekiah was his father, as is stated by Josephus, is a mere supposition. Compare Introd. § 2, where the names Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah have been sufficiently considered (cf. also note 1 to that §). Daniel 1:7. Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave (other) names, rather, “and the prince … gave them.” The changing of names as a sign of entrance into the condition of subjection to a ruler, is a frequently attested custom of Oriental and classical antiquity. Compare Genesis 41:45 (Joseph); 2 Kings 23:34 (Eliakim); 2 Kings 24:17 (Matthaniah=Zedekiah); the re-naming of pupils by their preceptors, e.g., 2 Samuel 12:25 (Solomon=Jedediah); Mark 3:16 (Simon=Peter); and respecting this custom among the Greeks and Romans, Theodoret, on our passage; Chrysostom, Opp. 5:286, etc. [“But while the kings referred to only had their paternal names changed for other Israelitish names, which were given 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.”—Keil.] For he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar, etc.; rather, “and he called Daniel Belteshazzar.” The four new names of the youths doubtless contain, without exception, a reference to the divinities of Babylon. This is apparent in the name בֵּלְטְשַׁאצַּר (cf. Daniel 4:5),—with which the royal name בֵּלְֹשַאצַּר is probably identical—whether, as a majority hold, we find the name of the god בֵּל in it, and explain its composition perhaps by Beli princeps (which the expression of Nebuchadnezzar himself in Daniel 4:5 seems to endorse), or prefer Hitzig’s more artificial interpretation = Pâld tschâçara, “nourisher and devourer.” עֲבֵד נְגוֹ likewise (for which the scriptio plena, Daniel 3:29, is ע׳ נְגוֹא) is certainly equivalent to “adorer of Nego,” which divinity is probably not the same as Nebo (Saadia, Hitz., Kranichf., and others), but a reptile god, and perhaps the familiar dragon of the apocryphal book Bel and the Dragon—since the comparison of the Sanscrit nâga, serpent, with this name, which was first essayed by Rödiger, affords a more likely conception than the transmutation of ב into ג. But שַׁדְרַךְ, which may be identical with חַדְרַךְ, Zechariah 9:1 (cf. Köhler, Sacharia, 2d pt., p. 18) also seems to designate a divinity, and possibly, in case it is based on the root חדר or הזר, “to move in a circle,” the sun-god. מֵישַׁךְ may be the same as the Sanscrit mêschach, “stag,” and therefore denote a god likewise belonging to the siderial domain; whether the sun-god be again intended, as Hitzig supposes, must remain doubtful (but see Hitzig on this place).

Daniel 1:8-10. Daniel’s request, and the refusal of the master of the eunuchs to entertain it. But Daniel purposed in his heart. So the A. V. and Luther, literally, but less agreeable to the sense of וַיָּשֶׂם עַל לִבּוֹ than “he was concerned,” as Bertholdt properly renders it. That he would (better “should”) not defile himself with the king’s meat. The Sept. renders אשר לא יתגאל by ὄπως μὴ ; cf. ἀλισγήματα, Acts 15:20. The reason for the refusal of the פתבג, i.e., the ordinary food of the king, as well as of the wine from his table (cf. Daniel 1:5), by Daniel and his associates, arose doubtless from the heathenish custom of consecrating each meal, by offering a portion to the gods.37 In order to prevent their being involved in idolatry by partaking of food which had been thus dedicated to the gods (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:18-20), they avoided especially those kinds of food which were commonly offered to the gods, hence those prepared from flesh, wine, or flour. The vegetables, such as pulse, cabbage, etc., of which alone they were willing to partake, were indeed also prepared by the heathen cooks of the king, and were even unclean in themselves, as having been grown on heathen soil (Amos 7:17; Hosea 9:3-4); but, since offerings or libations were never taken from them, they were not specially sacred to the gods, and hence, might be used by pious Jews, without any essential defilement of conscience. Compare Hävernick and Hitzig on this passage, and against Von Lengerke especially, who thought to find here the χορτώδης τροφή, 2Ma 5:27; and, therefore, a proof of the composition of the book in the time of the Maccabees; see Hävernick, Neue krit. Unters., p. 47. [“Daniel’s resolution to refrain from such unclean food flowed from fidelity to the law, and from steadfastness to the faith that ‘man liveth not by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 8:3).” —Keil.] Daniel 1:9. Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs; literally, “and God gave into favor … before the prince,” etc. נתן לִהסד is exactly the Greek ἔδωκεν εἰς ἔλεος καὶ οἰκτιρμόν (Theodot.). On this subject compare Genesis 39:21; also Nehemiah 1:11; 1 Kings 8:50.

Daniel 1:10. I fear my lord, the king, etc. The prince of the eunuchs does not, in these words, positively refuse the favor which Daniel seeks, but intimates that in order to avoid the royal displeasure, he must render at least a formal and apparent obedience to the command he had received; aside from this, he shows his readiness to exercise every possible forbearance towards his wards. The remark in Daniel 1:9 that God had brought Daniel into the favor of the prince is, therefore, by no means in conflict with the tenor of this reply.—For why should he see, etc. The same turn as in Song of Solomon 1:7, where the poetical שַׁלָּמָה stands for אֲשֶׁרלָמָה, and where, similarly, the question expresses the sense of an emphatic negation (cf. 2 Chronicles 32:4; Ezra 7:23).—Your faces worse liking, etc. זֹעֲפִים, properly “sad, lowering, of a peevish appearance” (Genesis 40:6; cf. רָעִים, Genesis 40:7), here implying a meager and decayed appearance, exactly like the Greek σκυθρωπός, Matthew 6:16. [ “פְּנֵי is to be understood before הַיְלָדִים, according to the comparatio decurtata frequently found in Hebrew; cf. Psalms 6:8; Psalms 18:34, etc.”—Keil.]—Then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king; properly, “and ye shall endanger.” וְהִיַּבְתֶּם [and ye cause to forfeit, a Chaldaizing Piel from חוּב], is coordinated with יִרְאֶה, and like it depends on אֲשֶׁר לָמָה; therefore: “for why should he see … and ye endanger my head,” etc. On the phrase “to endanger the head,” compare I liad, 4:162, ἀποτῐσαι σὺ̀ν κεφαλῆ, and the German, “den Kopf verwirken.

Daniel 1:11-16. Daniel’s abstemiousness, and its consequences. Then said Daniel to Melzar. הַמֶּלְצַי, as the prefixed article shows, is not a proper name, but an appellative, and probably designates an official. It can, however, scarcely mean a pedagogue or president of alumni, as Hitzig suggests, but rather a “butler” or “steward,” as appears from the nearly identical Persian melsar, “vini princeps” (according to Haug a compound word from the Zend. madhu =μέθυ, “drink,” and çara =κάρα, “head”); compare ἀρχιτοͅίκλινος, John 2:8-9),—[and רַבְשָׁקֵה, Isaiah 36:2]. Daniel 1:12. Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days. The number ten, which was constantly employed as a round number (cf. Daniel 1:20; Zechariah 8:23; 2 Kings 20:8, et seq.; and generally my Theologia Naturalis, 1:713 et seq.), was the more suitable in this case, as it was “sufficiently large to leave traces of the change of food in the appearance of the young men, yet not too great for a mere experiment” (Hitzig).—Give us (only) pulse to eat. Concerning זֵרֹעִים, vegetables, pulse, see on Daniel 1:8.

Daniel 1:13. And as thou seest, deal with thy servants; i.e., according to the result of thy observations. On תִּרְאֵה with tsêrê, see Ewald, Lehrbuch, § 224, c.

Daniel 1:15. Fatter in flesh. The youth themselves, and not merely their faces, are the subjects of this predicate; for neither מַרְאֵיהֶםnor מַרְאֵינוּ can be regarded as plurals. The plural מַרְאִים can nowhere be pointed out, and finds no support in Ecclesiastes 11:9 (cf. the exegetical notes on that passage, and also Hävernick on Daniel, p. 36).

Daniel 1:16. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they drank; better, “and the steward (henceforth) took away their appointed food and wine.” וַיְהִי is “not introductory, but in connection with the participle expresses the duration” (Hitzig). The continuation of their treatment on this wise by the steward is remarked in order that the improvement in the condition of the youth, already mentioned as apparent in Daniel 1:15, may be more strikingly brought out.—On the question whether the narrative aims to represent this fact as miraculous, as well as concerning its ethical importance, see the dogmatico-ethical considerations [below].

Daniel 1:17. The great endowments of Daniel and his companions.As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill, etc.; properly, “And God gave … to these four,” etc. Luther’s rendering, “And the God of these four gave them,” is inexact. On the precedence of the remote object in the nominative, followed by a personal pronoun in the dative (here לָהֶם), compare the examples adduced by Ewald, § 309, a, b.—In all learning and wisdom.—סֵפֶר, as in Daniel 1:4, “literary knowledge, acquaintance with literature, erudition” (Theodotion, γραμματική).—And Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. It was, therefore, his acquaintance with oneirocritics that distinguished him above his companions, who must also be regarded as wise and highly cultured. This was clearly a miraculous gift, which was intimately connected with his χάρισμα προφητικόν, but must not be confounded with it; for the skill to interpret the dreams and visions of others, is certainly different from the gift of seeing prophetical dreams and visions in person. Still, as the second half of the book shows, the possession of the latter faculty by our prophet presumed the existence of the former; just as in the New Testament the divinely-bestowed power to interpret tongues and prove spirits goes hand in hand with the power to speak in tongues and prophesy, in the case of the truly great bearers of the Divine Spirit, e.g., St. Paul (1 Corinthians 14:6 et seq.), St. Peter (Acts 5:3; Acts 8:20; Acts 10:10, etc.).—הֵבִין בְּכָל־חָזוֹן is the same construction as in Daniel 1:4 : מַשְׂכִּלִים בְּכָל־חָכְמָה, compare Ewald, § 217, 2. כל, however, does not belong only to הָזוֹן, but also to וַחֲלֹמוֹת following. “All visions and dreams” are all possible ones, of every imaginable kind.

Daniel 1:18-20. Favorable issue of their examination before the king. Now at the end of the days. Von Lengerke’s rendering, “and toward the end of the time,” is incorrect.—לַהֲבִיאָם, “to bring them,” viz.: into the presence of the king. Hence not the same as הָבִיא in verses.—The prince … brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Them—not merely the four (Daniel 1:17,) but, as may be inferred from Daniel 1:19, all those Israelitish youths, Daniel 1:13.—And among them all was none found like Daniel, etc., either in physical beauty, or in marked mental excellencies.—Therefore stood they before the king, i.e., they became his servants. “עָמַד is inceptive; they entered the royal service, and continued in it afterwards” (Hitzig).

Daniel 1:20. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding; literally, “the discernment of wisdom” (חָכְמַת בִּינָה, something like חֻקַּת מִשְׁפָּט, Numbers 27:11; cf. Ps. 55:24). חָכְמָה, however, is here, as in Daniel 1:4, employed exclusively in the sense of objective wisdom, which is essentially the same as science; while בִּינָה is “the subjective interior of this wisdom, the mind which shines through it.” דָּבָר is here equivalent to a special point, matter, object; cf. Psalms 31:9; Judges 19:24; Jeremiah 44:4, etc.—That the king inquired of them. בִּקֵּשׁ, not יֶבַקֵּשׁ. The perfect refers back to the examination instituted by the king, Daniel 1:19, not forward to later questions, which he addressed to them.—Found them ten times better. Compare Genesis 31:7; Genesis 31:41; Leviticus 26:26; Zechariah 8:23; Ecclesiastes 7:19.—Than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm; rather, “than all the learned (in literature) magicians that were,” etc. חַרְטֻמִּים, by reason of the probable derivation of the word from חָרֵט, stylus, represents those who are versed in writings, scribes (scarcely persons who are clever, discerning, as Hitzig prefers, because of its assumed derivation from the Zend khratumat, the Rabbinical קוּרְטְמָן). The learned Egyptian priests were designated by this term (Genesis 41:8; Genesis 41:24; Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22, etc.), while Herodotus (Daniel 2:36) calls them ἱερογραμματεῐς, and the Sept. sometimes terms them ἐξηγηταί (Genesis 41:8; Genesis 41:24), and again σοφισταί (Exodus 7:11). Unlike Daniel 2:2; Daniel 2:27; Daniel 4:4, etc., where the Chartummim are mentioned as a special class beside the Ashaphim and other wise men, the word, though not connected with the following, serves in this place merely to enlarge the conception of the predicate. אַשָּׁפִים, the more special term, designates (in virtue of the undeniable sameness in sense of its root שף with שׁאף and נשׁף) “breathers, whisperers,” i.e., conjurers, who murmured their magic formulas in an aspirated whisper. Whether they are to be specially regarded as “snakecharmers” must remain undecided, in view of the fact that the relation of this word to the term ἀσπίς is not established, and is possibly no more than an accidental similarity in sound. Compare, on the other hand, the Arabic naphatha, “to breathe mysteriously on coiled knots” (Freytag, Lexic. Arab. s. v.).

Daniel 1:21. Preliminary conclusion of the introduction. And Daniel continued (thus) even unto the first year of king Cyrus. חָיָה, which is neither to be identified with, nor exchanged for חָיָה (the latter is advocated by Kirmss and Hitzig among others, who substitute וַיְחִי for וַיְהִי), expresses, in connection with עַד, the sense of attaining to, or of existing until the inauguration of an event. But “to live until the first year of the reign of Cyrus” is by no means equivalent to dying in that year. In this case the passage would contradict the statement found in Daniel 10:1, and, therefore, would be in evidence against the original unity of this book (compare Introd. § 4). It is clear that the particle עד in this place does not refer to the close of the prophet’s life, but simply designates a highly important period of time, up to which he lived and approved himself as the possessor of the exalted gifts of wisdom, prophecy, and interpreting dreams (Daniel 1:17). The special mention of the first year of Cyrus as such a period, “has, on the one hand, the objective reason that a really new sera, for the Jews especially, and one to which the most remarkable prophecies (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1) referred, began with him; and, on the other, the subjective reason, that this sharp separation into great historical periods is general in Daniel, and, in addition, that a longing for the deliverance of his people must be regarded as a controlling disposition of his nature” (Hävernick). Compare Hengstenberg (Beitr., p. 65, 314 et seq.), and Maurer on this passage, who regards וַיְהִי עַד, etc., correctly, as simply showing that Daniel lived through the whole period of the exile as a highly esteemed wise man at the Chaldæan court.38 We need not, however, adopt Ewald’s view, who assumes that the words בְּשַׁעַר הַמֶּכֶֹךְ have been lost after דניאל; “Thus Daniel lived at the royal court until,” etc., with which he connects the venturesome hypothesis that Daniel and his companions dwelt in a separate I building of the palace, which was specially intended to serve as “the royal academy (!).”—The Hebrew form of the name כּוֹרֶשׁ evidently corresponds better with the ancient Persian in the cuneiform inscriptions (Qurus, Qurus), than the Greek κῠρος. Its interpretation by “sun,” which is found as early as Ctesias (Plut. Artax. 1. p. 1012) and in the Etymol. M. (cf. the Sanscrit sûra, sûrja; Zend hvare; modern Persian khur), is not entirely certain. Se the Zeitschrift für Kunde des Morgenl. 6:153 et seq.; 350 et seq.

Ethical Deductions Connected With The Scheme Of Redemption, Apologetical Remarks, And Homiletical Hints

1. The dogmatic and ethical significance of the early history of Daniel and his companions consists chiefly, and it may even be said exclusively, in the proof of resolute faith and obedient devotion to God, which they displayed by abstaining from the royal provision at the Babylonian court. Our admiration is not enlisted in behalf of the abstinent diet, the fasting, the mortification of self, on the part of these youth, but finds something grand and morally important in the active trust in God, and the faithful obedience to God, that are displayed in those self-denials. They did not abstain from the use of the delicacies of the royal table, during the whole period of their training, from a spirit of desperate ascetic bravado, or because of a super-legal dread of God’s creatures, which, in themselves, are not objectionable (1 Timothy 4:4); nor yet because, like the Buddhists of India, they scrupled to destroy animal life in any form; but from the truly religious motive of remaining faithful and devoted to their covenant God Jehovah (see above, Daniel 1:8), and to avoid their being implicated, to any degree whatever, in the idolatrous practices of their heathen masters. Their abstemiousness has, therefore, essentially the same ethical value as that of the Rechabites, who refused to drink wine, from motives of religious obedience to the vow of their ancestor (Jeremiah 35:0); or, as the conscientious abiding of the Nazarite by his sacred vow, which imposed similar denials on him, and which might cover the whole period of life (Samson, John the Baptist), or a definite time of longer or shorter duration (St. Paul, Acts 21:24 et seq.; Aquila, Acts 18:18). A further analogy to the course of these youth in Babylon will be found in the case of the Jews at Rome, whom Flavius Josephus mentions in chap. 3 of his autobiography. Our wonder and emulation are not excited in any of these instances by the avoiding of certain indulgences, but rather, by the disposition of faithful submission to the wholesome discipline of God. This it is, that marks their course as the effect of a strong, rather than weak faith, which thus becomes an example for the Christians of all ages. Several of the older expositors already recognized this, on the whole, although their extravagant estimate of the value of ascetic self-denial of any sort, prevented them from reaching a really unprejudiced and truly evangelical conclusion upon the subject. On the request of Daniel to Melzar, Daniel 1:12, to prove him and his companions during ten days with pulse and water, Jerome remarks, that it was a striking evidence of his faith: “Incredibilis fidei magnitudo non solum sibi corpulentiam polliceri esu uiliaris cibi, sed et tempus statuerev Non est ergo temeritatis, sed fidei, ob quam regias dapes contempserat.” Similarly Theodoret on that passage: Οὐδὲν τη̆ς εἰς θεὸν πίστεως ισχυρότερον, καὶ δὴ τοῠτο πολλαχόθεν καὶ , οὐχ ἥκιστα δὲ καὶ ἐκ τω̆ν τοῠ θεσπεσίου Δανιὴλ ῥημάτων· τὸ γὰρ πιστεῠσαι τε καὶ θαῤῥη̆σαι, ὡς τη̆ς θείας ῥοπη̆ς , καὶ μὴ ἐσθίων— —εὐπρεπέστερς καὶ περικαλλέστερος φανήσεται καὶ μείζων· ποίην εὐσεβείας ὑπερβολὴν καταλείπει.—Among later writers, see especially Melancthon, who remarks correctly: “Danielis temperentiam fuisse opus confessionis, et quidem hanc abstinenliam prceceptam fuisse lege Dei, non humanis traditionibus. Ergo abstinebat Daniel, ut testaretur se non abjicere doctrinam, in qua sola exstabat verbum Dei, et abhorrere ab aliarum gentium traditionibus;” also Calvin, who remarks on the words of Daniel, Daniel 1:11 et seq.: “Tenendum est etiam illud, nempe non temere, neque proprio motu hœc dixisse, sed instinctu Spiritus Sancti. Fuisset enim non solertia, sed temeritas, si Daniel sibi fabricasset hoc consilium, et non fuisset certior factus a Domine devfelici event. Non est igitur dubium, quin hoc habuerit ex arcana revelatione, feliciter et ex voto cessurum, si permitteret minister ipsum et socios vesci leguminibus.” And further: “Sciamus, hoc esse verum experimentum frugalitatis et temperentiœ, si piossimus esurire, ubi Deus nos ad inopiam et egestatem cogit, immo etiam si sponte possumus abjicere delicias, quœ nobis essent ad manum, sed nostro exitio. Nam hic subsistere in leguminibus et aqua esset valde frivolum, quia major interdum in emperentia se prodit in leguminibus, quam in optimis quibusque et lautissimis cibis.” Note further, what Chr. B. Michaelis says concerning the contrast, indicated in Daniel 1:13, between the majority of the youth designed to be pages to the king, who partook unhesitatingly of the prescribed fare, and the strict abstinence of Daniel and his three friends: “Hi ergo, licet et ipsi Judœi essent (Daniel 1:3-4; Daniel 1:6), tamen in observanda lege divina minus religiosi fuerunt. Tanto laudibilior fuit Danielis sociorumque ejus pietas et in patria religione constantia.

2. The course of the self-denying youth will also appear as an effect of faith, from what is said in Daniel 1:15 respecting their surprisingly robust and handsome appearance. Whether this consequence of their vegetable diet is to be regarded as something miraculous, or as a purely natural result, may be questioned. The phenomenon can hardly pass for absolutely miraculous; for the traveler Chardin, in a manuscript remark on that verse, observes, “I have noticed that the Kechichs (i.e., monks) have by far a fresher and more healthful color than others, and that the Armenians and Greeks, though they frequently fast, appear healthy, lively, and handsome” (compare Burder, in Rosenmüller’s Alt-u. Neu-Mor-genland, iv. 340; also Harmer, Observations in the East, i. 357); and it is conceivable that an unrestrained indulgence in luxurious food might rather detract from the beauty of the remaining youths, than enhance it, especially if it were accompanied by the debaucheries and excesses which are so common among the pages at Oriental courts (Lüdecke, Beschreibung des türk. Reichs, i. 52 et seq.; Hävernck, Komment., p. 37). Still, there is something extraordinary, indicative of Divinely supernatural co-operation, in the fact that at the end of three years the appearance of Daniel and his companions excelled that of all the other youths in fullness and beauty, and not less in the additional fact that they excelled these latter in point of intellectual qualities and scientific acquirements. cf. Hävernick, “At the same time, it would be partial to ignore the Divine assistance; it was God who enabled his servants to find favor with their overseer, who gave them progress in Divine wisdom and understanding, and who did not forsake them in this instance. Only by this reference to God, which is certainly found in our narrative, can the believer comprehend its true bearing. Hence it is unwise, and the mark of a merely carnal exposition, to become involved in far-fetched and physiological explanations and calculations, such as are found in Aben-Ezra, no less than to ignore the Higher power, from which come all good and perfect gifts.”

3. As an apologetical question of some importance, it must be remarked that what is related in this chapter concerning the abstinence and strict observance of the law at the heathen court of the Chaldæan king, by Daniel and his associates, is but poorly adapted to stamp the narrative as a fiction of Asmonæan times, in which the author seeks to beget trust in God on the part of his readers (Hitzig), or to warn them against partaking of unclean food (Bertholdt, Von Lengercke, etc.). The pious Jews of the Maccabæan period not only scrupulously avoided the flesh which was sacrificed to idols by their heathen oppressors, but everything that emanated from them, even to their arts and sciences. Daniel, Hananiah, etc., are, on the contrary, represented as distinguished adepts in all the wisdom of the Chaldæans, and at the same time, as filling official stations at the court of the Babylonian king, or even as members of the order of the magi (cf. Daniel 2:13; Daniel 2:48 et seq.). But while this latter feature shows a striking resemblance between the experience of the leading character and that of Joseph in Egypt; while especially the patronage of the youth Daniel by the prince of the eunuchs, as well as his high endowment as an interpreter of dreams, reminds us strongly of Joseph; we are yet compelled to reject the opinion that the whole is merely an artificial copy of the early history of that patriarch, because nothing is recorded, either of an ascetic refusal of food or drink on the part of Joseph, nor yet of his being trained with especial reference to service at the court of Pharaoh, or of a careful instruction in foreign wisdom and learning. With respect to the latter point, indeed, Moses, rather than Joseph, would serve as an example (see Acts 7:22). Compare also Jerome (on Daniel 1:8): “Qui de mensa regis et de vino potus ejus non vult comedere, ne polluatur, utique si sciret ipsam sapientiam atque doctrinam Babyloniorum esse peccatum, nunquam acquiesceret discere, quod non licebat. Discunt autem non ut sequantur, sed ut judicent atque convincant. Quomodo si quispiam adversus mathematicos velit scribere imperitus μαθήματος, risui pateat, et adversum philosophos disputans, si ignoret dogmata philosophorum. Discunt ergo ea mente doctrinam Chaldœorum, qua et Moyses omnem sapientiam Ægyptiorum didicerat.

4. The Homiletical treatment will, of course, seize on the chief and fundamental ethical principle of the section, as indicated above, under 1, without regard to subordinate details. Thus, perhaps: “Not dainty food, but the blessing of God develops beauty and strength. All wisdom, even in worldly concerns, is a gift of God, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of this wisdom also” (Starke, after the Bibl. Tübing.). —Or: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).—Or: “It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats” (Hebrews 13:9), etc. Compare Melancthon: “Daniel in aula nec minis nec contemptu, nec illecebris voluptatem aut potentiœ victus est, ut deficeret a vero cultu. Hanc constantiam pauci imitantur, sed qui imitantur habebunt ingentia prœmia corporalia et spiritualia, sicut inquit textas: Glorificantes me glorificabo, etc. (2 Samuel 2:20).”


[1]וַיָּצַר עָלֶיהָ, and pressed upon it, namely, with the usual military appliances.

[2]אֱלֹהָין, his gods, probably referring to the Babylonian polytheism, in contrast with the true God above, הָאֱלֹהִים.

[3]בֵּית אוֹצַר, store-house, some room connected with the temple of Belus.

[4]וַיֹּאמֶר, and said, in the Chaldaïzing sense of commanded.

[5]רַב chief, principal or head man.

[6]זֶרַע הַמְּלוּכָה seed of the kingdom, namely, of Judah.

[7]הַפַּרְתְּמִים the nobles, a Persic word denoting the aristocracy.

[8]יְלָדִים, youths, or lads, between infancy and adolescence.

[9]טוֹבֵי מַרְאֶה good of appearance, i.e., handsome.

[10]מַשְׂכִּלִים intelligent, i.e., of quick natural parts.

[11]יּדְעֵי knowing, i.e., by acquired information.

[12]מְבִינֵי considerate, i.e., of attentive habits.

[13]כֹּחַ vigor, i.e., physical strength, and perhaps including mental energy.

[14]וּלְלַמְּדָם; and to teach them, i.e., cause them to be instructed. This clause is to be connected in construction with the preceding לְהָבִיא Daniel 1:3.

[15]סֵפֶר book, i.e., the formularies or written mysteries.

[16]דְּבָב יוֹם בְּיוֹמוֹ a word (or matter) of a day in its day, a regular ration from day to day.

[17]פַּתְבָּג delicacy, a Persian word denoting luxurious viands.

[18]וַיָּשֶׂם עַל assigned upon, i.e., imposed this as a conscientious duty.

[19]רַחְמִים mercies, i.e., kind consideration of his scruples.

[20]מַשְׁתֵּיכֶם is regarded by the Grammarians as an instance of an epenthetic י in the sing., or perhaps an older form of the construction in which the final ח has given place to a cognate letter.

[21]כְּגִילְכֶם according to your circle, i.e., in point of age and rank. There is, however, possibly an allusion to their emasculated condition. Eunuchs are constantly represented on the Assyrian monuments as being of fuller habit than other men.

[22]מִך־חַזֵּרעִים וְנאֹכְלָח of the seed-fruits, and we will surely eat, i.e., exclusively vegetable diet

[23]פַּתְבָּג delicacy, a Persian word denoting luxurious viands.

[24]מִך־חַזֵּרעִים וְנאֹכְלָח of the seed-fruits, and we will surely eat, i.e., exclusively vegetable diet

[25]יְלָדִים, youths, or lads, between infancy and adolescence.

[26]סֵפֶר book, i.e., the formularies or written mysteries.

[27]וַיֹּאמֶר, and said, in the Chaldaizing sense of commanded.

[28]עֶשֶׂר יָדוֹת עַל ten hands (parts) above, ten-fold superior to.

[29]חַרְטֻמִּים is generally explained by the lexicographers as derived from חֶרֶט a style, hence scribes, the Magian ἱερογραμματεῖς. Perhaps it signifies horoscopists.

[30]אַשָּׁפִים, from אָשַׁף to whisper incantation, hence are magicians in the bread sence.

[31]וַיְחִי was alive and influential in that official capacity.]

[32][“Daniel is careful to say (with historical accuracy) that at this time the king of Babylon took away only a part of the vessels of the temple. Many more were taken during the short reign of Jeconiah (see 2 Kings 24:13), and yet some were left behind even then, to be taken at the final destruction of the city in the reign of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 27:19-22).”—Cowles.]

[33][Stuart, on the contrary, insists that the following clause compels us to understand the same object of חכיּא in both cases; but he overstrains the particle אֵת by the rendering “the same.” The English Auth. Version interprets in a similar manner. But the latter clause certainly implies a distinction between the objects carried away, some of which were deposited in a particular spot. The author is, therefore, correct in understanding the associates of the king to be included generally under the mention of his name, bat not himself particularly; he is inconsistent, however, a little farther on, as we shall see, in destroying the whole foundation of this distinction, in the interpretation of the last clause of the verse.]

[34][Rather, a strictly literal interpretation of Isaiah 39:7, as well as all the probabilities and analogies of the case, requires this view, which the majority of commentators have accordingly taken. The case of Joseph’s master affords no difficulty, for eunuchs of high rank are often married (cf. Sir 20:4; Sir 25:20); indeed the supposition of his impotence affords some explanation of his wife’s solicitation of Joseph.]

[35][Others, however, maintain that it was of Hamitic affinity. The subject of the origin of the כַּשְׂדִּים is very difficult. See the note in Keil ad loc.]

[36][Much less does it follow “that the other youths of noble descent, who had been carried away along with them, belonged to other tribes” (.Keil ad loc.), for (as the same commentator immediately adds), “the names of Daniel and his three companions only are mentioned, because their history recorded in this book brings them specially under our notice.”]

[37][That the special reason for their abstinence was not the Levitical distinction of “clean” and “unclean” animals, is evident from their rejection of the wine likewise, which the Mosaic law allowed. In addition to the reason assigned by our author, we suspect some sanitary cause, arising from an apprehension of the stimulating effect of the highly-seasoned food, especially if they were under surgical treatment.]

[38][“Compare the analogous statement, Jeremiah 1:2 et seq., 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.”—Keil.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Daniel 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.