Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
EXPOSURE TO THE
1. Darius--GROTEFEND has read it in the
cuneiform inscriptions at Persepolis, as Darheush, that is,
"Lord-King," a name applied to many of the Medo-Persian kings in
common. Three of that name occur: Darius Hystaspes, 521 B.C., in whose reign the decree was carried into effect
for rebuilding the temple
Darius Codomanus, 336 B.C., whom Alexander
overcame, called "the Persian"
an expression used after the rule of Macedon was set up; and Darius
Cyaxares II, between Astyages and Cyrus [&AELig;SCHYLUS, The Persians, 762, 763].
hundred and twenty--satraps; set over the conquered provinces
(including Babylon) by Cyrus
[XENOPHON, Cyropædia, 8.6.1]. No doubt
Cyrus acted under Darius, as in the capture of Babylon; so that
Daniel rightly attributes the appointment to Darius.
3. Daniel was preferred--probably because of his having so
wonderfully foretold the fall of Babylon. Hence the very expression
used by the queen mother on that occasion
is here used, "because an excellent spirit was in him."
king thought to set him over the whole realm--Agreeing with
Darius' character, weak and averse to business, which he preferred to
delegate to favorites. God overruled this to the good both of Daniel,
and, through him, of His people.
4. occasion . . . concerning the kingdom--pretext for
accusation in his administration
5. It is the highest testimony to a godly man's walk, when his most
watchful enemies can find no ground of censure save in that he walks
according to the law of God even where it opposes the ways of the world.
6. assembled together--literally, "assembled hastily and tumultuously."
Had they come more deliberately, the king might have refused their
grant; but they gave him no time for reflection, representing that their
test-decree was necessary for the safety of the king.
live for ever--ARRIAN [Alexander, 4]
records that Cyrus was the first before whom prostration was practised.
It is an undesigned mark of genuineness that Daniel should mention no
prostration before Nebuchadnezzar or Darius (see on
7. The Persian king was regarded as representative of the chief
god, Ormuzd; the seven princes near him represented the seven
Amshaspands before the throne of Ormuzd; hence Mordecai
refused such homage to Haman, the king's prime minister, as
inconsistent with what is due to God alone. A weak despot, like Darius,
much under the control of his princes, might easily be persuaded that
such a decree would test the obedience of the Chaldeans just conquered,
and tame their proud spirits. So absolute is the king in the East,
that he is regarded not merely as the ruler, but the owner, of the
All . . . governors . . . counsellors,
&c.--Several functionaries are here specified, not mentioned in
Da 6:4, 6.
They evidently exaggerated the case of the weak king, as if
their request was that of all the officers in the empire.
den of lions--an underground cave or pit, covered with a stone. It
is an undesigned proof of genuineness, that the "fiery furnace" is not
made the means of punishment here, as in
for the Persians were fire-worshippers, which the Babylonians
8. decree--or, "interdict."
that it be not changed--
(Es 1:19; 8:8).
This immutability of the king's commands was peculiar to the Medes and
Persians: it was due to their regarding him infallible as the
representative of Ormuzd; it was not so among the Babylonians.
Medes and Persians--The order of the names is an undesigned mark of
genuineness. Cyrus the Persian reigned subordinate to Darius the Mede as
to dignity, though exercising more real power. After Darius' death, the
order is "the Persians and Medes"
(Es 1:14, 19,
9. Such a despotic decree is quite explicable by remembering
that the king, as the incarnation of Ormuzd, might demand such an act
of religious obedience as a test of loyalty. Persecuting laws
are always made on false pretenses. Instead of bitter complaints
against men, Daniel prays to God. Though having vast business as a
ruler of the empire, he finds time to pray thrice a day. Daniel's three
are not alluded to here, nor any other Jew who conscientiously may have
disregarded the edict, as the conspirators aimed at Daniel alone
10. when Daniel knew . . . writing . . . signed--and that, therefore,
the power of advising the king against it was taken from him.
went into his house--withdrawing from the God-dishonoring court.
windows . . . open--not in vainglory, but that there might be no
obstruction to his view of the direction in which Jerusalem, the earthly
seat of Jehovah under the Old Testament, lay; and that the sight of
heaven might draw his mind off from earthly thoughts. To Christ in the
heavenly temple let us turn our eyes in prayer, from this land of our
(1Ki 8:44, 48;
2Ch 6:29, 34, 38;
chamber--the upper room, where prayer was generally offered by the
Not on the housetop
where he would be conspicuous.
upon his knees--Humble attitudes in prayer become humble suppliants.
three times a day--
The third, sixth, and ninth hour; our nine, twelve, and three o'clock
(Ac 2:15; 10:9; 3:1; 10:30;
as . . . aforetime--not from contempt of the king's command.
11. assembled--as in
"assembled" or "ran hastily," so as to come upon Daniel suddenly and
detect him in the act.
12. They preface their attack by alleging the king's edict, so as to
get him again to confirm it unalterably, before they mention Daniel's name. Not to break a wicked promise, is not firmness, but guilty
13. That Daniel--contemptuously.
of . . . captivity of Judah--recently a captive among thy servants,
the Babylonians--one whom humble obedience most becomes. Thus they
aggravate his guilt, omitting mention of his being prime minister, which
might only remind Darius of Daniel's state services.
regardeth not thee--because he regarded God
(Ac 4:19; 5:29).
14. displeased with himself--for having suffered himself to be
entrapped into such a hasty decree
On the one hand he was pressed by the immutability of the law, fear
that the princes might conspire against him, and desire to consult for
his own reputation, not to seem fickle; on the other, by regard for
Daniel, and a desire to save him from the effects of his own rash
till . . . going down of . . . sun--The king
took this time to deliberate, thinking that after sunset Daniel would
be spared till morning, and that meanwhile some way of escape would
turn up. But
the conspirators "assembled tumultuously" (literally) to prevent this
delay in the execution, lest the king should meantime change his
16. Thy God . . . will deliver thee--The heathen
believed in the interposition of the gods at times in favor of their
worshippers. Darius recognized Daniel's God as a god, but not the
only true God. He had heard of the deliverance of the three youths
Da 3:26, 27
and hence augurs Daniel's deliverance. I am not my own master, and
cannot deliver thee, however much I wish it. "Thy God will." Kings are
the slaves of their flatterers. Men admire piety to God in others,
however disregarding Him themselves.
17. stone . . . sealed--typical of Christ's entombment
under a seal
Divinely ordered, that the deliverance might be the more striking.
his own signet, and . . . of his lords--The concurrence of the
lords was required for making laws. In this kingly power had fallen
since it was in Nebuchadnezzar's hands. The Median king is a puppet in
his lords' hands; they take the security of their own seal as well as
his, that he should not release Daniel. The king's seal guaranteed
Daniel from being killed by them, should he escape the lions.
18. neither were instruments of music,
"concubines." Daniel's mentioning to us as an extraordinary thing of
Darius, that he neither approached his table nor his harem, agrees with
XENOPHON'S picture of him as devoted to wine and women, vain, and
without self-control. He is sorry for the evil which he himself had
caused, yet takes no steps to remedy it. There are many such halters
between good and bad, who are ill at ease in their sins, yet go forward
in them, and are drawn on by others.
19. His grief overcame his fear of the nobles.
20. living God--having life Himself, and able to preserve thy life;
contrasted with the lifeless idols. Darius borrowed the phrase from
Daniel; God extorting from an idolater a confession of the truth.
thou servest continually--in times of persecution, as well as in times
is thy God . . . able--the language of doubt, yet hope.
21. Daniel might have indulged in anger at the king, but does not; his
sole thought is, God's glory has been set forth in his deliverance.
22. his angel--the instrument, not the author, of his deliverance
(Ps 91:11; 34:7).
shut . . . lions' mouths--
So spiritually, God will shut the roaring lion's mouth
for His servants.
forasmuch as before him innocency--not absolutely (in
Da 9:7, 18
he disclaims such a plea), but relatively to this case. God has
attested the justice of my cause in standing up for His worship, by
delivering me. Therefore, the "forasmuch" does not justify Rome's
doctrine of works meriting salvation.
before thee--Obedience to God is in strictest compatibility with
loyalty to the king
Daniel's disobedience to the king was seeming, not real, because it was
not from contempt of the king, but from regard to the King of kings
23. because he believed--"Faith" is stated in
to have been his actuating principle: a prelude to the Gospel. His
belief was not with a view to a miraculous deliverance. He shut his
eyes to the event, committing the keeping of his soul to God, in
well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator
sure of deliverance in a better life, if not in this.
accused--literally, "devoured the bones and flesh." It was just
that they who had torn Daniel's character, and sought the tearing of
his person, should be themselves given to be torn in pieces
their children--Among the Persians, all the kindred were involved in
the guilt of one culprit. The Mosaic law expressly forbade this
or ever--that is, "before ever." The lions' sparing Daniel could
not have been because they were full, as they showed the keenness of
their hunger on the accusers.
26. Stronger than the decree
That was negative; this, positive; not merely men must say "nothing
amiss of," but must "fear before God."
28. It was in the third year of Cyrus that Daniel's visions
were given. Daniel "prospered" because of his prophecies
(Ezr 1:1, 2).