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view to their entering the king's service. Among the youths selected for the purpose were four of the Jewish captives, viz. Daniel, who received now the name of Belteshazzar, and Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who received similarly the new names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, respectively1. The four youths, while content to pursue the studies prescribed by Nebuchadnezzar, determined, if possible, not to compromise their religious principles, by partaking of the special food provided for them from the royal table; and succeeded in obtaining permission to confine themselves to vegetable diet. At the end of three years, being found to excel all the others who had been educated with them, they are promoted to a place among the king's personal attendants, and prove themselves, when tested, to be superior in knowledge and ability even to the 'wise men' of Babylon themselves (ch. i.).

An opportunity soon arrives for Daniel to give proof of his abilities. Nebuchadnezzar, in his second year, being disquieted by a dream, demands of the 'wise men' of Babylon that they should repeat and interpret it to him: being unable to do this, they are condemned by him to death. Daniel and his companions, being, in virtue of their education, regarded as belonging to the class of 'wise men,' and finding consequently their lives to be in danger, betake themselves to prayer; and in answer to their supplication the secret of the dream is revealed to Daniel. Being now, at his own request, brought before the king, Daniel declares and interprets to him his dream. The dream was of a colossal image, the head consisting of gold, the breast and arms of silver, and the rest of the body of various inferior materials: as the king beheld it, a stone 'cut out without hands' suddenly fell, and struck the feet of the image, which thereupon broke up, while the stone grew into a mountain, which filled the whole earth. The image was interpreted by Daniel as signifying four empires—the head of gold being Nebuchadnezzar himself, representing the empire of the Chal

1 According to Josephus (Ant. XI. x. 1)—though this may be only an inference, which does not necessarily follow, from the terms of Dan. i. 36-the four youths were all related to King Zedekiah.

daeans, the other parts of the body symbolizing three other empires, which are not named explicitly, but which (see the notes on ii. 39, 40) are in all probability the Median, Persian, and Greek (the empire of Alexander and his successors, the Seleucidae and the Ptolemies). The stone 'cut out without hands' denoted the kingdom of God, before which all earthly powers were to succumb, and which was itself ultimately to embrace the entire world. The king was profoundly impressed by Daniel's skill, and not only rewarded him with numerous gifts, but also made him administrator of 'the whole province of Babylon,' and President of all the 'wise men' (cf. v. 11). At Daniel's request, his three friends also received promotion— probably to act as deputies or assistants to himself (ch. ii.).

Ch. iii. describes the wonderful deliverance of Daniel's three companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Nebuchadnezzar had erected, in the plain of Dura, near Babylon, a colossal golden image, and assembled for its dedication the high officials of his kingdom, all being commanded, under penalty of being cast into a burning fiery furnace, to fall down at a given signal and worship it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, refusing to do this, are cast into the furnace; but, to the king's astonishment, are rescued miraculously from the power of the flames. Thereupon Nebuchadnezzar solemnly acknowledges the power of their God, issues a decree threatening death to all who presume to blaspheme Him, and bestows upon the three men various marks of his favour.

Afterwards (chap. iv.) Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, which Daniel was likewise called in to interpret. This time, the dream was of a mighty tree, the head of which towered to heaven, while its branches sheltered and nourished the beasts and fowls of the earth: as the king watched it, he heard the command given that it should be hewn down to the ground, and only its stump be left standing, and that 'seven times' should then 'pass over' it. Daniel explained that the tree symbolized Nebuchadnezzar himself; and that the dream was an indication that a great humiliation would ere long befall him: for seven years he would be bereft of his reason; he would imagine himb


self an ox, and live in the open fields; nor would he recover, and be restored to his kingdom, till he was ready to acknowledge that the Most High was supreme over the kingdoms of the earth, and that he owed all his greatness to Him. At the end of twelve months, as the king was contemplating from the roof of his palace the city which he had built, Daniel's prediction was suddenly verified, and Nebuchadnezzar remained bereft of his reason for seven years. At the end of that time his reason returned to him; and in gratitude for his recovery, and his restoration to his kingdom, he issued a proclamation, addressed to all the world, in which he publicly acknowledged God's power and goodness towards him.

The scene of ch. v. is Belshazzar's palace, on the eve of Cyrus' conquest of Babylon (B.C. 538), 23 years after the end of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (B.C. 561), when Daniel, supposing him to have been 16 or 17 at the time of his captivity (B.C. 605), would be 83 or 84 years old. Belshazzar and his lords are at a feast, impiously drinking their wine out of the golden vessels which had once belonged to the Temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem. Suddenly there appears on the white plaister of the wall, almost directly above where the king is sitting, the palm of a hand, with fingers writing on the wall. The 'wise men,' being summoned to interpret what is written, are unable to do so. At the suggestion of the queen-mother, Daniel is called. He reads the king a lesson on his impiety and pride, and on his neglect to take warning by the example of Nebuchadnezzar; and having done this, interprets the writing. Its import is that Belshazzar is no more worthy to enjoy his kingdom: its days are numbered, and it is about to be given to the Medes and Persians. Daniel thereupon receives from Belshazzar the rewards which he had promised to any one who should interpret the writing; and is made one of the three chief Ministers in his kingdom. In the same night Belshazzar is slain, and 'Darius the Mede' 'receives' the kingdom.

Darius the Mede appointed over his kingdom 120 satraps, with three Presidents at their head, to whom they were to be accountable. One of these presidents was Daniel, whom, as he

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distinguished himself remarkably in his office, Darius contemplated making his chief minister. Upon this, the satraps, and other presidents, were filled with envy, and hoping to ruin him, sought to convict him of some act of disloyalty. They accordingly induced Darius to issue an interdict, forbidding any one, under penalty of being cast into a den of lions, to ask a petition of either God or man, except the king, for 30 days. The aged Daniel nevertheless continued, as before, to pray at his open window towards Jerusalem. The king, upon learning that Daniel had thus incurred the penalty, was greatly vexed; but feeling nevertheless that the law must be obeyed, reluctantly gave directions for him to be cast into the den of lions. Next morning, hastening to the spot, he is over-joyed to find him uninjured; and publishes a decree, enjoining men, in all parts of his dominion, to honour and revere the God of Daniel, who had given such wonderful evidence of His power (ch. vi.).

The second, or 'apocalyptic,' part of the book, describing Daniel's visions, now begins (ch. vii.—xii.).

In the first year of Belshazzar, Daniel had a dream, in which he saw four beasts emerging from the sea, a lion with eagle's wings, a bear, a leopard with four wings and four heads, and a fourth beast, with powerful iron teeth destroying all things, and with ten horns: as Daniel was contemplating it, another 'little horn' sprang up among the ten horns, 'speaking proud things,' before which three of the other horns were rooted up. The scene then suddenly changed: the Almighty appeared, seated on a throne of flame, and surrounded by myriads of attendants; the books, recording the deeds of men, were opened, and the beast whose horn spake proud things was judged and slain. After this, a figure in human form, coming with the clouds of heaven, was ushered into the presence of the Judge, and received from Him a universal and never-ending dominion. The meaning of the vision was explained to Daniel by one of the angels that stood by: the four beasts represented four kingdoms,—in all probability, as in ch. ii., the Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Greek; the 'little horn' was a king (Antiochus Epiphanes), who would persecute, and seek to exter

minate, the holy people; but he would be judged, and have his power taken from him, before he had accomplished his purpose: the people of God would then receive a universal and neverending dominion (ch. vii.).

Chap. viii. describes a vision seen by Daniel, in the third year of Belshazzar,-in the view of the author, therefore, two years after the vision described in ch. vii.,—in the citadel of Shushan (Susa). A ram with two horns appeared, pushing towards the west, the north, and the south, until a he-goat, with a conspicuous horn between its eyes, emerging from the west attacked the ram, and broke its two horns. After this, the he-goat gained further successes; but ere long its horn was broken; and in place of it there rose up four other horns, looking towards the four quarters of the earth. Out of one of these there came forth a little horn which, waxing great towards the land of Judah, exalted itself against the host of heaven, and against its Prince (i.e. God), struck and hurled down to the earth many of the stars, desecrated the sanctuary, and interrupted the daily sacrifice for 2300 'evenings mornings.' The meaning of this vision was explained to Daniel by the angel Gabriel. The ram with two horns was the Medo-Persian empire; the he-goat was the empire of the Greeks, the conspicuous horn being its 'first king' (i.e. Alexander the Great); and the four horns which rose up after this had been broken, were the four kingdoms,—viz. those of Macedonia, Thrace, Syria, and Egypt,-into which, after Alexander's death, his empire was ultimately resolved. The little horn, which arose out of one of these, and magnified itself against the host of heaven and the sanctuary, represented a king who, though not named, is shewn by the description of his character and doings (vv. 23—25) to be Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 175-164).

Chapter ix. is assigned to the first year of 'Darius the Mede.' In that year, Daniel, considering that the seventy years of desolation prophesied by Jeremiah for the Holy City were drawing to their close, made an earnest appeal to God on behalf of his people, confessing his nation's sin and the justice of the punishment which had overtaken it, and

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