Daniel 1

THE BOOK

OF THE

PROPHET DANIEL

Chronological Notes relative to the commencement of

Daniel's prophesying

-Year from the Creation, according to Archbishop Usher, 3397.

-Year of the Jewish era of the world, 3154.

-Year from the Deluge, 1741.

-Second year of the forty-third Olympiad.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to the Varronian or

generally received account, 147.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Cato and the Fasti

Consulares, 146.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Polybius the

historian, 145.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor, 411.

-Year of the Julian Period, 4107.

-Year of the era of Nabonassar, 141.

-Year from the foundation of Solomon's temple, 397.

-Year since the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by

Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 114.

-Fourth year after the first Sabbatic year after the seventeenth

Jewish jubilee, according to Helvicus.

-Year before the birth of Christ, 603.

-Year before the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 607.

-Cycle of the Sun, 19.

-Cycle of the Moon, 3.

-Tenth year of Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of the Romans.

-Nineteenth year of Cyaxares or Cyaraxes, the fourth king of

Media.

-Forty-fourth year of Archidamus, king of Lacedaemon, of the

family of the Proclidae.

-First year of Leon, king of Lacedaemon, of the family of

Eurysthenidae.

-Thirteenth year of Alyattes II., king of Lydia, and father of

the celebrated Croesus.

-Thirty-fourth year of Philip, the sixth king of Macedon.

-Eleventh year of Pharaoh-necho, called Necus by Herodotus. This

king was the immediate predecessor of Psammis; and Psammis was

succeeded by the celebrated Pharaoh-hophra, called also Apries.

-Eighth year of Ithobalus, king of the Tyrains, according to

Helvicus.

-Third year (ending) of Jehoiakim, king of Judah; for the

principal part of A.M. 3397 corresponded to the fourth year of

this prince.

CHAPTER I

This chapter begins with giving a short account of

Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Judea, when Jehoiakim became

tributary to him; and consequently the seventy years' captivity

and vassalage began, 1, 2.

On this expedition (taking Egypt in his way) the king of Babylon

set out towards the end of the third year of Jehoiakim, but did

not take Jerusalem before the ninth month of the year following.

Hence the seeming discrepancy between Daniel and Jeremiah,

(Jer 25:1,)

the one computing from the time of his setting out on the

expedition, and the other from the time in which the purpose of

it was accomplished. We have next an account of the manner in

which Daniel and his companions were brought up at the king's

court, 3-7.

They reject the daily provision of meat granted by the king,

lest they should be defiled, and are allowed to live on pulse,

8-16.

Their great proficiency in the wisdom of that time, 17-20.

Daniel flourishes till the reign of Cyrus the Persian, 21.

NOTES ON CHAP. I

Verse 1. In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim] This king

was raised to the throne of Judea in the place of his brother

Jehoahaz, by Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt, 2Ki 23:34-36, and

continued tributary to him during the first three years of his

reign; but in the fourth, which was the first of Nebuchadnezzar,

Jer 25:1, Nebuchadnezzar completely defeated the Egyptian army

near the Euphrates, Jer 46:2; and this victory put the

neighbouring countries of Syria, among which Judea was the chief,

under the Chaldean government. Thus Jehoiakim, who had first been

tributary to Egypt, became now the vassal of the king of Babylon,

2Ki 24:1.

At the end of three years Jehoiakim rebelled against

Nebuchadnezzar, who, then occupied with other wars, did not

proceed against Jerusalem till three years after, which was the

eleventh and last of Jehoiakim, 2Ki 23:36.

There are some difficulties in the chronology of this place.

Calmet takes rather a different view of these transactions. He

connects the history thus: Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, finding

that one of his lords whom he had made governor of Coelesyria and

Phoenicia had revolted from him, and formed an alliance with the

king of Egypt, sent Nebuchadnezzar his son, whom he invested with

the authority of king, to reduce those provinces, as was customary

among the easterns when the heir presumptive was sent on any

important expedition or embassy. This young prince, having quelled

the insurrection in those parts, marched against Jerusalem about

the end of the third or beginning of the fourth year of the

reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. He soon took the city, and put

Jehoiakim in chains with the design of carrying him to Babylon;

but, changing his mind, he permitted him to resume the reins of

government under certain oppressive conditions. At this year,

which was A.M. 3398, the seventy years of the Babylonish captivity

commence. Nabopolassar dying in the interim, Nebuchadnezzar was

obliged to return speedily to Babylon, leaving his generals to

conduct the Jewish captives to Babylon, among whom were Daniel and

his companions.

Verse 2. Part of the vessels of the house of God] He took the

richest and finest of them for the service of his god Bel, and

left what were necessary for carrying on the public worship of

Jehovah, (for he did not attempt to alter the civil or religious

constitution of Judea;) for leaving Jehoiakim on the throne, he

only laid the land under tribute. The Chaldeans carried these

sacred vessels away at three different times. 1. In the war spoken

of in this place. 2. In the taking of Jerusalem and Jeconiah a few

months after, 2Ki 24:13. 3.

Eleven years after, under the reign of Zedekiah, when the city

and temple were totally destroyed, and the land ruined,

2Ki 25:8-15.

The land of Shinar] This was the ancient mame of Babylon. See

Ge 11:2.

The treasure house of his god.] This was Bel, who had a splendid

temple in Babylon, and was the tutelar god of the city and empire.

Verse 3. Master of his eunuchs] This word eunuchs signifies

officers about or in the palace, whether literally eunuchs or not.

Verse 4. Children] yeladim, youths, young men; and so

the word should be rendered throughout this book.

Skilled in all wisdom] Rather, persons capable of every kind of

literary accomplishment, that they might be put under proper

instruction. And as children of the blood and of the nobles mere

most likely, from the care usually taken of their initiatory

education, to profit most by the elaborate instruction here

designed, the master of the eunuchs, the king's chamberlain, was

commanded to choose the youths in question out of such.

Verse 5. A daily provision] Athenaeus, lib. iv., c. 10, says:

The kings of Persia, (who succeeded the kings of Babylon, on whose

empire they had seized,) were accustomed to order the food left at

their own tables to be delivered to their courtiers.

So nourishing them three years] This was deemed a sufficient

time to acquire the Chaldee language, and the sciences peculiar to

that people. I suppose they had good introductory books, able

teachers, and a proper method; else they would have been obliged,

like us, to send their children seven years to school, and as many

to the university, to teach them any tolerable measure of useful

and ornamental literature! O how reproachful to the nations of

Europe, and particularly to our own, is this backward mode of

instruction. And what is generally learned after this vast expense

of time and money? A little Latin, Greek, and mathematics;

perhaps a little moral philosophy; and by this they are entitled,

not qualified, to teach others, and especially to teach the people

the important science of salvation! To such shepherds, (and there

are many such,) the hungry sheep look up, and are not fed; and if

all are not such, no thanks to our plan of national education.

Verse 6. Now among these] There were no doubt several noble

youths from other provinces: but the four mentioned here were

Jews, and are supposed to have all been of royal extraction.

Verse 7. Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names] This

change of names, Calmet properly remarks, was a mark of dominion

and authority. It was customary for masters to impose new names

upon their slaves; and rulers often, on their ascending the

throne, assumed a name different from that which they had before.

DANIEL signifies "God is my Judge." This name they changed

into BELTESHATSTSAR; in Chaldee, "The treasure of Bel," or

"The despository of the secrets (or treasure) of Bel."

HANANIAH signifies, "The Lord has been gracious to me," or

"He to whom the Lord is gracious." This name was changed into

SHADRACH, Chaldee, which has been variously translated: "The

inspiration of the sun;" "God the author of evil, be propitious to

us;" "Let God preserve us from evil."

MISHAEL signifies "He who comes from God." Him they called

MESHACH, which in Chaldee signifies, "He who belongs to the

goddess Sheshach," a celebrated deity of the Babylonians,

mentioned by Jeremiah, Jer 25:26.

AZARIAH, which signifies "The Lord is my Helper," they

changed into ABED-NEGO, which in Chaldee is "the servant

of Nego," who was one of their divinities; by which they meant

either the sun, or the morning star; whether Jupiter or Venus.

The vicious pronunciation of this name should be carefully

avoided; I mean that which lays the accent on the first syllable,

and hurries to the end, without attending to the natural division

of the word Abed-Nego.

Verse 8. But Daniel-would not defile himself] I have spoken of

this resolution in the introduction. The chief reasons why Daniel

would not eat meat from the royal table were probably these

three:-1. Because they ate unclean beasts, which were forbidden by

the Jewish law. 2. Because they ate, as did the heathens in

general, beasts which had been strangled, or not properly blooded.

3. Because the animals that were eaten were first offered as

victims to their gods. It is on this account that Athenaeus calls

the beasts which here served up at the tables of the Persian

kings, ιερια, victims, lib. iv. c. 10, p. 145.

Verse 11. Then said Daniel to Melzar] Melzar was an officer

under Ashpenaz, whose office it was to attend to the food,

clothing, &c., of these royal captives. Others think meltsar,

master of the inn or hotel, the name of an office.

Verse 12. Give us pulse to eat] hazzeraim, seeds or

grain, such as barley, wheat, rye, and peas, &c. Though a

vegetable diet might have produced that healthiness of the system

in general, and of the countenance particularly, as mentioned

here; yet we are to understand that there was an especial blessing

of God in this, because this spare diet was taken on a religious

account.

Verse 17. As for these four children] Young men or youths. Our

translation gives a false idea.

In all visions and dreams.] That is, such as are Divine; for as

to dreams in general, they have as much signification as they have

connexion, being the effects of the state of the body, of the

mind, or of the circumstances of the dreamer. A dream may be

considered supernatural, if it have nothing preposterous, nothing

monstrous, and nothing irregular. If the whole order and

consequences of the things be preserved in them, from beginning to

end, then we may presume they are supernatural. In such dreams

Daniel had understanding.

Verse 18. Now at the end of the days] That is, at the end of

three years, Da 1:5.

Verse 19. And among them all] All the young noble captives from

different nations.

Therefore stood they before the king.] It appears that only four

were wanting.

Verse 20. Magicians and astrologers] Probably the same as

philosophers and astronomers among us.

Verse 21. The first year of king Cyrus.] That is, to the end of

the Chaldean empire. And we find Daniel alive in the third year of

Cyrus, see Da 10:1.

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