Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

Daniel 6

Verse 1

Dan 6:1. We should bear in mind that historically speaking the 70year captivity ended at the same time the Babylonian Empire fell, which event was effected by the death of Belshazzar recorded in the close of the preceding chapter. That means the present chapter is at the beginning of the MedoPersian reign in Babylon. We also should distinguish between the Darius named here and the men of the same name who will be referred to later on who were Persian rulers. The present one is Darius the Median (uncle of Cyrus), named in the last verse of chapter 5, It will be very helpful for the reader if he will make frequent reference to the passages of history quoted from time to time in my comments. When Cyrus slew Belshazzar and took possession of Babylon, he seems to have turned the political affairs over to his uncle Darius, and the appointment of the 120 princes was one of his first acts.

Verse 2

Dan 6:2. These princes were more official than ttie word generally means. It is derived from a word that Strong defines, "Of Persian derivation; a satrap or governor of a main province of Persia,” These men were to manage the affairs as they pertained to the business matters, on behalf of the king, and over them were placed three men called presidents to whom they were to report their work. This was all done as an organization to see that the king would not suffer any damage or loss of any kind, Daniel was one of the three presidents and the statement is that he was first, which will prove to be very significant later on in our story.

Verse 3

Dan 6:3. Was preferred means that Daniel distinguished himself by his superior talents, and the writer of the text accounts for it by saying that an excellent spirit was in him. This was naturally brought to the attention of Darius and it made a favorable impression on him. The king had already delegated most of the business cares to the 120 princes, and now he was thinking of setting Daniel over the whole realm which means to give him a ruling authority that would have made him superior to the other presidents as well as to the princes.

Verse 4

Dan 6:4. Envy is a terrible spirit and will lead men to commit great crimes. The favorable position which Daniel acquired filled the other presidents and princes with this evil spirit and they began to plot against him. They wished to get him into trouble by some kind of disagreement or rebellion against the government. But Daniel was a lawabiding subject so that no statute could be found that he was violating.

Verse 5

Dan 6:5, These envious men admitted among themselves that no charge could be cited in connection with any of the existing laws. The only chance was to do something that would bring him into conflict through liiB religion. To do so it was necessary to have some specific statute which they knew would interfere with bis religious practice; something that could be reported as an actual performance. To do this they took notice that one of his regular religious performances was to open the windows of his room that faced in the direction of Jerusalem, and there upon his knees three times daily to pray to God, That furnished them the subject for their wicked plot.

Verse 6

Dan 6:6. With their envious motive in their wicked hearts they came before the king. They introduced themselves with the familiar salutation, King Darius, live far ever. Such a salutation was sometimes uttered out of genuine respect for a dignitary without any selfish motive prompting it. In the present case, however, we know it was for the purpose of getting the king into a favorable attitude toward them and hence it was said tn flattery.

Verse 7

Dan 6:7. There would not seem to be anything wrong with the proposition on first hearing it, only an overture for the purpose of showing honor to the king. Yet a little thought should have at least raised the suspicion of Darius. Why limit the decree to thirty days? If there was any good reason for limiting all petitions, that they should be addressed to the king only, that reason would continue after the period named. Another thing, the proposed decree made no specification as to whether the petitions involved pertained to religion or temporal matters. Had any such distinction been made it might have at least aroused the curiosity of the king and the plot been exposed, so they chose to word it with this indefinite form so as to give it the impression of a movement Just for his honor. Daniel was accustomed to praying daily and hence thirty days may seem to be longer than necessary. But sickness or some other unavoidable circumstance could interrupt his devotions for a few days. Also, something might intervene in their own personal affairs that would make it uncertain to specify a shorter period. So the time allotted would be enough to cover all of these possible emergencies. These men evidently understood the principle of government that requires a law to have a penalty in order to be effective, hence they suggested that one be attached and even named the penalty they wished to be used.

Verse 8

Dan 6:8. Sign the writing, That it be not changed. The Persians had the foolish notion that when their king signed a decree it made it so sacred that it could not be repealed or changed even by the king himself. Had the king merely authorized the decree, there might have been some Haw discovered and it could have been set aside. That is why these abominable men induced him to put his signature io the document. The later conduct Of Darius proves that he would have repealed the decree had he not signed it, which act took the law out of his hands for ever.

Verse 9

Dan 6:9. The writing pertained to the body of the document which stipulated what the people were prohibited from doing, and the decree was the paragraph that was to place it in the class of enactments that could never be repealed, and Darius signed all.

Verse 10

Dan 6:10. When Daniel knew might be taken to mean that Daniel went to his house to pray just because he learned of the edict, and that he did it for spite. His whole life and character would forbid such a conclusion. Besides that, the verse concludes with the words as he did aforetime. This shows that he did not make any change in his practices just because of this edict. In truth, it was evidently their witnessing that pructice that caused the men to bring about that particular kind of degree. But the phrase means as if it said, "though Daniel knew," or "notwithstanding that Daniel knew." The point is that Daniel was not intimidated out of his regular service to God by hearing the persecuting edict of the king.

Verse 11

Dan 6:11. The men would naturally be expected to spy on Daniel to be able to report as witnesses of his conduct to the king.

Verse 12

Dan 6:12. Their speech to the king was that of a group of hypocrites. They pretended to he shocked and surprised at what they had discovered. But it might be well to remind Darius in the form of a question of the decree he had made and signed. It might have a more active effect upon him to have the edict brought fresh to his mind, and to have him verify it verbally before them.

Verse 13

Dan 6:13. Every statement these men made in this verse was true, but was uttered with a vicious motive and without regard for the context. It was true that Daniel ignored the decree of the king, but it was not because he did not respect temporal and royal government as they wished to imply. Instead, it was because the decree would hinder his religious service to God, and it has always been taught in the scripture that if a human law conflicts with the law of God. the servants of righteousness should "obey God rather than man" (Act 5:29).

Verse 14

Dan 6:14. The king realized he had been entrapped into something he would not have done had he known what these men were plotting. He had no Ut feeling against Daniel but was displeased with himself. Labored . . . to deliver him. We are not told what the king did in his “labor," whether he was acting the part of an unscrupulous lawyer and trying to find some technical loophole, or thought perhaps that it he would not be in too much of a burry in putting the edict into execution, something, somehow, might turn up that would release Daniel.

Verse 15

Dan 6:15. Unlike the decree concerning the image set up by Nebuchadnezzar (chapter 3: 6, 15), nothing was said in this one about the hour at which Us violation was to be punished. The delay of Darius in executing it seemed to cause the men to become uneasy lest he fail for some reason. Therefore they assembled before him and reminded him of the unobange ableness of the decree which he had signed.

Verse 16

Dan 6:16, Being thus goaded by these men, the king was Impelled, against his personal inclination, into carrying out the wicked decree. As the prophet was being thrust Into the den the king commended him to his &od whom, thou servest continually. Whether "the wish was father of the thought," or he was malting a challenge of the issue I do not know. However, whatever the expectations of the king were, we may truly consider It a test, both of Daniel’s faith and of the might or his God.

Verse 17

Dan 6:17. A stone was brought and laid upon the mouth, not at the mouth or door. That language is appropriate because the den was a pit dug oat in the ground. The stone was sealed with the king’s own signet, which was a ring equipped with an engraving for making a stamp such as a notary uses today. That sealing had nothing to do with the coniinement of Daniel, but protected the place against outside interference.

Verse 18

Dan 6:18. The whole circumstance was grievous to Darius, for he thought well of Daniel, and had realized that he was the victim of a plot caused by the envy of the lords and princes. The king passed a very restless night. Musick has no separate word in the original, but the phrase instruments of musick Is from DACHAVAH and the most that Strong says of it by way of definition is, “probably a musical instrument (aa being struck)," and he says it is equivalent to another original word that he defines, “a primitive root; to push down." Young says the word is of "uncertain meaning,” Mof fatt renders the word for instruments of musick by "dancing girls,” and a footnote in the American Standard Version gives the same rendering. Another work of reference renders it “concubines.” Prom the foregoing information we can get a reasonably clear picture of the situation. Darius was an idolater, also was a weak, pleasureloving king. Under less serious circumstances a man unabie to sleep would pass the time in the indulgence of his appetites and passions. But the wakefulness of Darius was caused by a grief so profound that be had no desire for “wine and women.”

Verse 19

Dan 6:19. After a sleepless night the king arose and went to the den. When one is forced to go through a night without sleep from physical causes, the morning usually finds him in a very disturbed frame of mind; how much more so when it has been caused by a feeling of guilt. The entire nervous system of Darius was shattered with remorse.

Verse 20

Dan 6:20. He approached the den with mingled feelings, torn between hope and despair. The record of Daniel’s life was evidently known somewhat to the king, which would tend to give him hope that he would be miraculoualy protected. And yet he was net certain that Daniel's God would see fit In this case to intervene. Lamentable is from atsab and Strong's definition is, "to afflict.” The meaning of the passage is that Dorious cried with a voice that expressed his affliction in both mind and body. We may condense the heartrending cry to “0 Daniel, has thy God seen fit to preserve thee?”

Verse 21

Dan 6:21, I have no words fully to describe the suspense in which the king must have hung after uttering the foregoing, wailing cry. He could scarcely wait long enough for Daniel to respond should he be still alive, for seconds would seem like minutes or hours. And yet, even a seemingly long silence would not be quite enough time; perhaps when a reasonable pause has passed the prisoner will speak. And again my words fail me in trying to describe (he joyous relief the king must have felt when he heard the brief but respectful salutation, O king live for ever. No tinge of bitterness or resentment, but the same attitude of respect for his earthly master be had always shown.

Verse 22

Dan 6:22. In a candid but respectful manner Daniel explained to his king that his God had preserved him. He then accounted for the miraculous escape from the lions' mouths. He had been innocent in the sight of his God, and also had done no hurt to his king. That word is defined as "crime” in Strong's lexicon, which proves to us that Daniel was justified in his use of the word. It is true that he had disobeyed the decree of the king, but it was one that he had signed without any knowledge of the circumstances. Since Darius would not have signed the edict had he known the facts, the act of Daniel in continuing what had been his practice ail along without any disapproval of the king, constituted no deed that injured the dignity of his sovereign.

Verse 23

Dan 6:23. We are sure that whatever show of gladness the king made because of Daniel's preservation was sincere. Not only was he preserved but he was not injured in any way. The word hurt in this verse means bodily damage. It is the writer who says that Daniel escaped all damage because he believed in his God.

Verse 24

Dan 6:24. In the ordinary sense of accuse it means to charge one with something wrong. It is a stronger word In the present case and means "to eat or consume.” The thought is that the men desired to have Daniel destroyed by being eaten by the lions. Instead of sueb a fate happening to the prophet it came upon the accusers. The,ir children and their wives were thrown into the den with them. The reason for casting these people into the den is clarified by a statement of Josephus, Antiquities, Book 10, Chapter 11, Section 6, as follows: "Now when his enemies saw that Daniel had suffered nothing which was terrible, they would not own that he was preserved by God and by his providence; but they said, that the lions had been filled full with food, and on that account it was, as they supposed, that the lions would not touch Daniel, nor come to him, and this they alleged to the king; but the king, out of an abhorrence of their wickedness, gave order that they should throw in a great deal of flesh to the lions; and when they had filled themselves, he gave further order that Daniel’s enemies should be cast into the den that he might learn whether the lions, now they were full, would touch them or not; and it appeared plain to Darius, after the princes had been cast to the wild beasts, that it was God who preserved Daniel, for the Hons spared none of them, but tore them all to pieces, as if they had been very hungry, and wanted food. I suppose, therefore, it was not their hunger, which had been a litile before satisfied with abundance of flesh, but the wickedness of these men that provoked them to destroy the princes. For if it so pleased God, that wickedness might by even those irrational creatures, be esteemed a plain foundation for their punishment.” No doubt these wicked enemies of Daniel thought they had a sufficient explanation of his preservation in claiming that the beasts had been previously fed to their full. Whether Darius seriously considered their suggestion we have no way of knowing. But it was a fair test for these accusers to have the lions fed under the king's orders before offering them these human bodies. If being filled before caused them to ignore the body of Daniel (as these men had claimed), then the same condition should work that way again. Or ever means "before ever” they reached the bottom of the cave or den. The beasts were so vicious towards these people, even though they had (heir stomachs filled with fresh meat, that they lunged up and seized them before they had a chance to alight.

Verse 25

Dan 6:25. The world empires were made up of all people, nations, and languages of the civilized world, hence a proclamation such as the king wished to be made would be sa addressed in order to reach and affect all the subjects of his realm.

Verse 26

Dan 6:26. Every dominion of my kingdom is explained by the comments on the preceding verse. Religion was a sLate affair with the ancient empires, hence it was in line with the rule for Darius to make the requirement set forth in this decree, though the Lord did not depend on the worldly governments to stipulate the form of worship that was to be offered to Him. The king made a specific mention of his reasons for issuing the decree which were true and very respectful,

Verse 27

Dan 6:27. The king continued his general remarks about the greatness of "the God of Daniel," but he did not stop with generalities; he cited the case of Daniel's deliverance from the power of the lions.

Verse 28

Dan 6:28. Strong defines prospered as, “A primitive root; to push forward, in various senses (literally or figuratively, transitively or intransitively).” Cyrus is called the Persian because the Darius named in the same connection was a Mede. The Persians also had kings with that name but they will come into the history of the empire after the events of this hook. This verse is intended as a general statement covering the span of time that Daniel and his work as a prophet had recognition before the rulers of the world.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Daniel 6". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.