Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. third year--compare
"the fourth year; Jehoiakim came to the throne at the end
of the year, which Jeremiah reckons as the first year, but which
Daniel leaves out of count, being an incomplete year: thus, in
Jeremiah, it is "the fourth year"; in Daniel, "the third"
[JAHN]. However, Jeremiah
(Jer 25:1; 46:2)
merely says, the fourth year of Jehoiakim coincided with the first of
Nebuchadnezzar, when the latter conquered the Egyptians at
Carchemish; not that the deportation of captives from
Jerusalem was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim: this probably took
place in the end of the third year of Jehoiakim, shortly before
the battle of Carchemish [FAIRBAIRN].
Nebuchadnezzar took away the captives as hostages for the submission of
the Hebrews. Historical Scripture gives no positive account of
this first deportation, with which the Babylonian captivity, that is,
Judah's subjection to Babylon for seventy years
2Ch 36:6, 7,
states that Nebuchadnezzar had intended "to carry Jehoiakim to
Babylon," and that he "carried off the vessels of the house of the
Lord" thither. But Jehoiakim died at Jerusalem, before the conqueror's
intention as to him was carried into effect
(Jer 22:18, 19; 36:30),
and his dead body, as was foretold, was dragged out of the gates by the
Chaldean besiegers, and left unburied. The second deportation under
Jehoiachin was eight years later.
2. Shinar--the old name of Babylonia
(Ge 11:2; 14:1;
Nebuchadnezzar took only "part of the vessels," as he did not intend
wholly to overthrow the state, but to make it tributary, and to leave
such vessels as were absolutely needed for the public worship of
Jehovah. Subsequently all were taken away and were restored under Cyrus
his god--Bel. His temple, as was often the case among the heathen,
was made "treasure house" of the king.
3. master of . . . eunuchs--called in Turkey the kislar aga.
of the king's seed--compare the prophecy,
2Ki 20:17, 18.
4. no blemish--A handsome form was connected, in Oriental ideas, with
mental power. "Children" means youths of twelve or fourteen years old.
teach . . . tongue of . . . Chaldeans--their
language and literature, the Aramaic-Babylonian. That the heathen lore
was not altogether valueless appears from the Egyptian magicians who
opposed Moses; the Eastern Magi who sought Jesus, and who may have
drawn the tradition as to the "King of the Jews" from
&c., written in the East. As Moses was trained in the learning of the
Egyptian sages, so Daniel in that of the Chaldeans, to familiarize his
mind with mysterious lore, and so develop his heaven-bestowed gift of
understanding in visions
(Da 1:4, 5, 17).
5. king's meat--It is usual for an Eastern king to entertain, from
the food of his table, many retainers and royal captives
(Jer 52:33, 34).
The Hebrew for "meat" implies delicacies.
stand before the king--as attendant courtiers; not as eunuchs.
6. children of Judah--the most noble tribe, being that to which the
"king's seed" belonged (compare
7. gave names--designed to mark their new relation, that so they
might forget their former religion and country
But as in Joseph's case (whom Pharaoh called Zaphnath-paaneah), so in
Daniel's, the name indicative of his relation to a heathen court
("Belteshazzar," that is, "Bel's prince"), however flattering to him,
is not the one retained by Scripture, but the name marking his relation
to God ("Daniel," God my Judge, the theme of his prophecies
being God's judgment on the heathen world powers).
Hananiah--that is, "whom Jehovah hath favored."
Shadrach--from Rak, in Babylonian, "the King," that is, "the
Sun"; the same root as in Abrech
Margin), "Inspired or illumined by the Sun-god."
Mishael--that is, "who is what God is?" Who is comparable to God?
Meshach--The Babylonians retained the first syllable of Mishael, the
Hebrew name; but for El, that is,
GOD, substituted Shak, the
Babylonian goddess, called Sheshach
(Jer 25:26; 51:41),
answering to the Earth, or else Venus, the goddess of love and mirth;
it was during her feast that Cyrus took Babylon.
Azariah--that is, "whom Jehovah helps."
Abed-nego--that is, "servant of the shining fire." Thus, instead
of to Jehovah, these His servants were dedicated by the heathen to
their four leading gods [HERODOTUS, Clio];
Bel, the Chief-god, the Sun-god, Earth-god, and Fire-god. To the last
the three youths were consigned when refusing to worship the golden
The Chaldee version translates "Lucifer," in
Nogea, the same as Nego. The names thus at the outset are
significant of the seeming triumph, but sure downfall, of the heathen
powers before Jehovah and His people.
8. Daniel . . . would not defile himself with
. . . king's meat--Daniel is specified as being the
leader in the "purpose" (the word implies a decided resolution)
to abstain from defilement, thus manifesting a character already formed
for prophetical functions. The other three youths, no doubt, shared in
his purpose. It was the custom to throw a small part of the viands and
wine upon the earth, as an initiatory offering to the gods, so as to
consecrate to them the whole entertainment (compare
To have partaken of such a feast would have been to sanction idolatry,
and was forbidden even after the legal distinction of clean and unclean
meats was done away
(1Co 8:7, 10; 10:27, 28).
Thus the faith of these youths was made instrumental in overruling the
evil foretold against the Jews
to the glory of God. Daniel and his three friends, says AUBERLEN, stand out like an oasis in the desert. Like
Moses, Daniel "chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of
God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season"
He who is to interpret divine revelations must not feed on the
dainties, nor drink from the intoxicating cup, of this world. This made
him as dear a name to his countrymen as Noah and Job, who also stood
alone in their piety among a perverse generation
(Eze 14:14; 28:3).
requested--While decided in principle, we ought to seek our object
by gentleness, rather than by an ostentatious testimony, which, under
the plea of faithfulness, courts opposition.
9. God . . . brought Daniel into favour--The favor of others towards
the godly is the doing of God. So in Joseph's case
Especially towards Israel
10. worse liking--looking less healthy.
your sort--of your age, or class; literally, "circle."
endanger my head--An arbitrary Oriental despot could, in a fit of
wrath at his orders having been disobeyed, command the offender to be
11. Melzar--rather, the steward, or chief butler, entrusted by Ashpenaz
with furnishing the daily portion to the youths
[GESENIUS]. The word is
still in use in Persia.
12. pulse--The Hebrew expresses any vegetable grown from
seeds, that is, vegetable food in general
"Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out
of the mouth of the Lord."
17. God gave them knowledge--
(Ex 31:2, 3;
Jas 1:5, 17).
Daniel had understanding in . . . dreams--God thus made one of the
despised covenant-people eclipse the Chaldean sages in the very science
on which they most prided themselves. So Joseph in the court of Pharaoh
(Ge 40:5; 41:1-8).
Daniel, in these praises of his own "understanding," speaks not through
vanity, but by the direction of God, as one transported out of himself.
"CONTENTS OF THE
18. brought them in--that is, not only Daniel and his three friends,
but other youths
(Da 1:3, 19,
"among them all").
19. stood . . . before the king--that is, were advanced to a position
of favor near the throne.
20. ten times--literally, "ten hands."
magicians--properly, "sacred scribes, skilled in the sacred writings,
a class of Egyptian priests"
[GESENIUS]; from a Hebrew root, "a pen."
The word in our English Version, "magicians," comes from mag, that is, "a priest." The Magi formed one of the six divisions of the
astrologers--Hebrew, "enchanters," from a root, "to conceal,"
pactisers of the occult arts.
21. Daniel continued . . . unto . . . first year of Cyrus--
Not that he did not continue beyond that year, but the
expression is designed to mark the fact that he who was one of the
first captives taken to Babylon, lived to see the end of the captivity.
"SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
he is mentioned as living "in the third year of Cyrus." See Margin
Note, on the use of "till"
(Ps 110:1, 112:8).