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and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold
about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. 8 Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not
read the writing, nor make known to the king the inter9 pretation thereof.
Then was king Belshazzar greatly roubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and
scarlet] purple (R.V.), as Ex. xxv. 4; Jud. viii. 26, &c. So vv. 16, 29. Purple was a royal, or princely, colour among the Persians (Est. viii. 15; Xen. Anab. I. v. 8), the Medes (Cyrop. 1. iii. 2, 11. iv. 6), and also it may be inferred) among the Seleucidae (1 Macc. X. 20, 62, 64, xiv. 43 f.; cf. viii. 14).
a chain of gold about his neck] Cf. Gen. xli. 42, where Pharaoh decorates Joseph similarly. A golden necklace was worn also by Persians of rank (cf. Xen. Anab. I. v. 8, viii. 29); and was given sometimes by the Persian kings as a compliment or mark of distinction : in Hdt. iii. 20 Cambyses sends a purple garment, a golden necklace, bracelets,' with other presents, to the Ethiopians; and in Xen. Anab. I. ii. 27 the younger Cyrus gives one to Syennesis. (The word, hamnuk or hamnik, occurs in the O.T. only here and vv. 16, 29. It is probably of Persian origin [hamyānak), a diminutive from hämyān
girdle. It is found in the Targums, in the form měnik, and in Syriac as hamnīk and hemnīk (see Gen. xli. 42, Onk. and Pesh.); and it made its way into Greek as Mavlákns, LXX. Theod. here, Polyb., &c.).
and shall rule as one of three in the kingdom] So R.V. marg. The expression (which recurs vv. 16, 29) is difficult. The rendering of A.V. is however certainly not tenable. The word rendered 'third' in A.V. is not that which is used anywhere else (either in the Targums or in Daniel) to denote the ordinal; but_resembles most closely the word (tiltā or tūltā) which both in the Targums and in Syriac means a third part (e.g. 2 Kings xi. 5, 6, 'a third part of you’). Hence the literal rendering appears to be, shall rule as a third part in the kingdom,' i.e. have a third part of the supreme authority in the country, be one of the three chief ministers, 'rule as one of three.' Cf. LXX. δοθήσεται αυτή εξουσία του τρίτου μέρους της βασιλείας.
8. The wise men, however, failed either to read or to explain the writing.
9. greatly troubled] greatly alarmed,-a climax upon v. 6.
and his brightness was changed upon him] 'upon' in accordance with the principle explained on ii. 1. were astonied] were confused or (R.V.) perplexed.
the queen) probably, as most commentators assume,-partly
his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever : let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed. There 11 is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts,
because she is distinguished from the 'wives' or 'consorts ' mentioned in v. 2, partly on account of the manner in which she speaks in v. II of what had happened in the days of Nebuchadnezzar,—the queen. mother, i.e. (in the view of the writer) Nebuchadnezzar's widowi. In both Israel and Judah the mother of the reigning king is mentioned as an influential person, 1 Ki. xv. 13; 2 Ki. X. 13, xxiv. 12, 15; Jer. xiii. 18, xxix. 2.
O king, live for ever] Cf. on ii. 4.
like the wisdom of (the) gods] Cf. 2 Sam. xiv. 20. The queen, however, speaks as a polytheist.
made master of the magicians, &c.] See ii. 48 and iv. 9. enchanters, Chaldeans, and determiners (of fates)] As v. 7.
an excellent spirit] a surpassing spirit, i.e. pre-eminent ability. Cf. v. 14, vi. 3 ; and see on ii. 31. The Aramaic word used stands often in the Syriac version of the N.T. for πλείον and περισobtepov, as Matth. vi. 25, xi. 9,
42. interpreting...dissolving] These two English words are, of course, substantives. The meaning of the passage is no doubt, given correctly, but it involves a change of punctuation : in the original, the two words, as actually pointed, are participles and out of construction with the context.
shewing of hard sentences] declaring of riddles. As Prof. Bevan remarks, the two Aramaic words here used correspond exactly to the two Hebrew words found in Judg. xiv. 14, 15, 19, and there rendered • declare the riddle.' ‘Hard' or (R. V.) .dark sentences,' or 'sayings (Ps. xlix. 4, lxxviii. 2;. Prov. i. 6) is an obscure expression, the reten. tion of which in the R.V. is to be regretted. The Hebrew word is the same as that which is used in 1 Ki. x. I of the 'hard questions ’ with which the Queen of Sheba plied Solomon. It is also used of an allegory Ez. xvii. 2, of an 'enigma’ of life, Ps. xlix. 4, of a truth taught
1 Nabu-na'id's actual mother died eight years previously, in his ninth year, as is expressly stated in the 'Annalistic Tablet,' ii. 13 (KB. iii. 2, p. 131; RP.2 v. 160). DANIEL
were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named
Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew 13 the interpretation. Then was Daniel brought in before
the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is
in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent 15 wisdom is found in thee. And now the wise men, the
astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the
interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the inter16 pretation of the thing: and I have heard of thee, that
thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts : now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the indirectly Ps. lxxviii. 2, and of a satirical poem, containing indirect, taunting allusions, Hab. ii. 6. Orientals love both actual riddles and also indirect, figurative modes speech; and the power of explaining either the one or the other is highly esteemed by them.
dissolving of doubts] loosing of knots : i.e. either solving of difficulties (cf. the same word in the Talm., Jebamoth 61* (' I see a knot (difficulty) here,' 1076 they made two knots (raised two difficulties] against hiin'; it has also the same sense of perplexity in Syriac, P. S. col. 3591); or (Bevan) untying of magic knots or spells (cf. this sense of the word in Syriac, tiers of knots,' of a species of enchanters, 'incantations and knots, P. S. l. c.), to accomplish which demanded special skill.
whom the king named Belteshazzar] See i. 7.
Art thou that Daniel] Art thou Daniel. The pron. thou is emphatic; but that
but 'that’implies a false view of the syntax of the sentence (cf. on ii. 38 and iii. 15).
who is of the children of the exile of Judah, &c.] See ii. 25.
Jewry] Judah. "Jewry,' i.e., the country of the Jews, is an old English expression for Judah (or Judæa) : in A.V. it occurs besides in Luke xxiii. 5 and John vii. I, as well as frequently in the Apocrypha. It is a standing expression in Coverdale's version of the Bible (1535); and from him it passed into Ps. lxxvi. 1 in the P.B.V. Shakespeare uses it seven times; e.g. 'Herod of Jewry,' A. and Cl. i. 2, 28, iii. 3, 3.
14. I have heard (R. V.), &c.] v. II.
interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then Daniel answered and 19 said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar 18 thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour : and for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, 19 and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive ; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind 20 hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne,
thou shalt be clothed with purple, &c.] As v. 7.
17. Daniel rejects the proffered honours : he will read the writing; but he will do so quite irrespectively of any promises made to him by the heathen king.
before the king] cf. on ii. 8. rewards] See the note on ii. 6. yet] nevertheless (R.V.) brings out the force of the adverb used more distinctly (cf. iv. 15, 23 [R. V.]).
18—24. Before interpreting the writing Daniel reads the king a lesson. Nebuchadnezzar's pride, combined with his refusal to recognize the sovereignty of the true God, had brought upon him a bitter humiliation : Belshazzar has exhibited the same faults yet more conspicuously : and the present sign has been sent in order to warn him of the impending punishment.
18. "the kingdom, and greatness, and glory, and majesty] Cf. iv. 22, 36.
19. and because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages, &c.] Cf. iii. 4.
trembled and feared before him) dreading what he might do next.
whom he would he slew, &c.] he acted as though he possessed the attributes of Deity, and was accountable to no superior. Similar expressions are used elsewhere of the action of God: e.g. Deut. xxxii. 39; i Sam. ii. 6, 7; Ps. lxxv. 7.
set up] lifted up (or exalted): the word used in Ps. lxxv. 7, lxxxix. 19, cxiii. 7, &c.
20. was lifted up] Cf. Deut. viii. 14, xvii. 20; Ez. xxxi. 10, &c.
and his spirit was hardened that he dealt proudly (R.V.)] 'was hardened' is literally was strong (i.e. stiff, unyielding) : the same word (kaph) is used in the Targums for the Hebrew ħāzak, hizzēk 'to be or make strong (hard)’ in Ex. vii. 13, 22, ix. 12, 35, &c. (of Pharaoh's heart). Cf. Deut. ii. 30.
ar and they took his glory from him: and he was driven from
the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in
the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whom22 soever he will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not 23 humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but
hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy
breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glori24 fied: then was the part of the hand sent from him ; and 25 this writing was written. And this is the writing that was 26 written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is
they took his glory] or, his glory was taken, according to the principle explained on iv. 25.
21. See iv. 25, 32, 33.
the wild asses] An untamable animal, which roamed in the open plains (see Job xxxix. 5–8; and cf. Gen. xvi. 12): to dwell with the wild asses would thus be a special mark of wildness and savagery.
they fed him] or he was fed (R. V.): iv. 25, 32 (“make to eat '). till he knew, &c.) iv. 25, 32. appointeth) setteth up (Ř.V.), as iv. 17 (A.V.) for the same word. • Appointeth' is not strong enough.
22—23. But Belshazzar, in spite of the warning afforded by Nebuchadnezzar's fate, has sinned still more deeply, and by wanton sacrilege has deliberately defied the God of heaven.
23. and they have brought, &c.] See vv. 2-4.
which see not, nor hear, nor know] Cf. Deut. iv. 28; Ps. cxv. 5-6, cxxxv. 16–17.
in whose hand thy breath is) who is the author of thy life and being. Cf. Gen. ii. 7; Job xii. 10.
thy ways] i.e. thy destinies. Cf. Jer. x. 23.
24. T'hen was the palm (v. 5) of the hand sent forth from before him; and this writing was inscribed] v. 5. Then is here equivalent, virtually, to hence, therefore.
25—28. The reading and interpretation of the writing.
25. Written] inscribed (R. V.). The word not the one that ordinarily means to write, but one that means rather to print or stamp.
MENE (pron. měné, to rhyme with bewray), MENE, TEKEL (pron. těkêl, to rhyme with bewail), UPHARSIN) in the explanation (v. 28),