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the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art 27 weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; 28 Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel 29 with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and
we have, for upharsīn, pěrês (to rhyme with deface), which is just the singular of parsin (or, where a vowel, as here u, precedes, pharsin), u being 'and.' Měné, as the pass. part. of měna, to number, might mean numbered'; but if the present vocalization is correct, těkél cannot mean weighed,' nor pèrês divided.' These two words, as they stand, must be substantives. The true explanation of the four words is probably that which was first suggested by Clermont-Ganneau1, and which has since been adopted by Nöldeke and others. They are really the names of three weights, měnê being the correct Aramaic form of the Hebrew maneh, the m'na (uvâ), těķêl being the Aramaic form of the Hebrew shekel, and pěrês (or more correctly pěras), properly division, being a late Jewish word for a half-m'na. Thus the four words are really A M'NA, A M'NA, A SHEKEL, AND HALF-M'NAS. The puzzle consisted partly in the character or manner in which they were supposed to have been written -an unfamiliar form of the Aramaic character, for instance, or, as the medieval Jews suggested, a vertical instead of a horizontal arrangement of the letters; partly in the difficulty of attaching any meaning to them, even when they were read: what could the names of three weights signify?2 Here Daniel's skill in the 'declaring of riddles (v. 12) comes in. Měné itself means 'numbered,' as well as 'a m'na': it is accordingly interpreted at once as signifying that the days of Belshazzar's kingdom are numbered,' and approaching their end. Tekel, 'shekel,' suggests tekil, weighed': Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.' Parsin, half-m'nas,' or perês (pěrás), a half-m'na,' points allusively to a double interpretation: 'Thy kingdom is divided (pěrîs)3, and given to the Medes and Persians' (Aramaic pāras).
26. finished it] completed it, given it its full and complete measure of time. Cp. the cognate adj. in Gen. xv. 16 (‘full,' ' complete '). 28. the Medes and Persians] See on v. 31.
29. Belshazzar fulfils the promise given in v. 16. The unconcern exhibited by the king at Daniel's interpretation, especially in presence of what (as v. 30 shews) could hardly have been a distant or unsuspected danger, is scarcely consistent with historical probability.
scarlet] purple, as vv. 7, 16.
1 Journal Asiatique, Juillet-Août, 1886, p. 36 ff. Reprinted in Recueil d'Archéol. Orientale, i. (1888), p. 136 ff.
2 For the names of common objects interpreted significantly, see Jer. i. 11, 12, xix. 1, 7 (Heb.), Am. viii. 1.
The word occurs in Heb. in this sense, e.g. Lev. xi. 3, 4, 5; and of dividing bread, Is. lviii. 7 ('deal'), Jer. xvi. 7 (R.V. 'break').
made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be 30 the third ruler in the kingdom. In that night was Bel31 shazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
that he should be ruler as one of three in the kingdom] See on v. 7. 31. And Darius the Median (or the Mede, as xi. 1) received the kingdom] The idea of the writer appears to be that the Medes and Persians were acting in concert at the time of the capture of Babylon (v. 28); but that when the city was taken, 'Darius the Mede,' by a joint arrangement between the two peoples (or their rulers), ' received' the kingdom, or (ix. 1) was made king,' and (ch. vi) took up his residence in Babylon as his capital. Darius, though bound by the laws of the two allied peoples, the 'Medes and Persians' (vi. 8, 12, 15), clearly, in ch. vi, acts not as viceroy for another but as an independent king, organising his kingdom into satrapies (vi. 1), otherwise both acting as king and receiving the title of king' (vi. 3, 7, 8, &c., 25): his reign, moreover, precedes, and is distinct from, that ot Cyrus (vi. 28 see also ix. 1, 2, xi. I, as compared with x. I; and cp. on viii. 3). It is true, this representation does not agree with what is known from history, for though the Medes (see on ii. 39) joined Cyrus in B.C. 549, and formed afterwards an important and influential element in the Persian empire1, there is no trace of their exercising afterwards any independent rule; in the Inscriptions, Cyrus begins his reign in Babylon immediately after the close of that of Nabu-na'id. Contemporary monuments allow no room for a king, Darius the Mede,' between the entry of Babylon by Cyrus and the reign of Cyrus himself. The figure, it seems, must be the result of some historical confusion, perhaps (see the Introd. p. liv) a combination of Gubaru, the 'governor' pehah), who first entered Babylon, and took command in it, at the time of Cyrus' conquest, with (cf. Sayce, Monuments, pp. 528-30) Darius Hystaspis, father (not son) of 'Ăḥashwērōsh=Xerxes (ix. 1).
about threescore and two years old] We do not know upon what tradition, or chronological calculation, the age assigned to 'Darius the Mede' depends.
CHAP. VI. DANIEL IN THE LIONS' DEN.
Darius the Mede appoints over his kingdom 120 satraps with three presidents over them, one of the latter being Daniel (vv. 1-2). On account of the regard shewn to him by the king, the satraps and presidents, being moved with envy, seek an opportunity to ruin him (vv. 3-4). They accordingly persuade Darius to issue a decree, forbidding any one to ask a petition of God or man, except the king, for thirty days (vv. 5—9). Daniel, however, continues as before to
1 Under the Persian kings, Medes are repeatedly mentioned as holding high and responsible positions (Rawl., Herod. App. to Bk. i, Essay iii, § 2). On the large amount contributed by Media to the Persian revenue see Rawl., Anc. Mon.1 ii. 428.
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred 6 and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel 2
pray three times a day at his open window towards Jerusalem. The king, upon information being brought to him, reluctantly yielding obedience to the law, orders Daniel to be cast into a den of lions (vv. 10-17). Next morning, to his astonishment and joy, he finds him uninjured; and publishes a decree enjoining men, in all parts of his dominion, to stand in awe of the God of Daniel, who had given such wonderful evidence of His power (vv. 18—28).
Daniel has hitherto been uniformly prosperous: success and honours have attended him under each monarch with whom he has had to do (i. 19, 20; ii. 26 ff., 48, 49; iv. 19-27; v. 17 ff., 29), even including Darius (vi. 2, 3). But, in his old age, his trial also comes. His loyalty to his God, his determination not to disown the public profession of his faith, is put severely to the test. It is not, as with his three companions in ch. iii., a question of a positive sin which he will not commit, but of a positive duty which he will not omit. He finds himself placed in a position in which, if he worships the God of his fathers in his accustomed manner, he will become guilty of a capital offence. The situation is, in all essential features, the same as that of the faithful Jews under the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes (see I Macc. i. 41-64). The story of Daniel's deliverance, notwithstanding certain improbabilities which (quite apart from the details which are avowedly miraculous) it seems, to some minds, to present, is a vivid exemplification of the value, in God's sight, of courageous loyalty to Himself. Of course, in the ordinary operation of Providence, God's servants are not delivered from bodily peril by a direct miraculous intervention of the character here described: but the narrative, like that in ch. iii., must be judged by the principle laid down in the Introduction (p. lxxii): the lesson, not the story in which it is embodied, is the point which the narrator desires to impress, and on which the reader's attention ought to be fixed.
No other notice
1. an hundred and twenty satraps] see on iii. 2. of this organization has come down to us. The Persian empire was first organised into provinces under 'satraps' by Darius Hystaspis (522-485 B.C.); and then the satrapies were only 20 in number (Herod. III. 89). The statement, upon independent grounds, is not probable; and if it is true that there was no king 'Darius the Mede,' some error or confusion must manifestly underlie it. It may have been suggested by the 127 provinces, into which, according to Est. i. 1, viii. 9, the Persian empire was divided under Xerxes.
over] in, i.e. (R.V.) throughout.
three presidents] Aram. sārak, prob. a form derived from the
1 The Behistun Inscription of Darius (col. 1. par. 6) enumerates 23 provinces; the later (sepulchral) inscription of Naksh-i-Rustam (1. 7-19), 29: see RP1i. III, V. 151 f. Darius, in the first of these inscriptions, mentions the 'satrap' of Bactria, and the 'satrap' of Arachotia (col. iii. par. 3 and 9). See further details in Rawl., Anc. Mon. iii. 417 ff.
was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, Then neither was there any error or fault found in him.
said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the 6 law of his God. Then these presidents and princes
Pers. sār, 'head,' 'chief,' 'prince.' In the O.T. it is found only in this chap. (vv. 2, 4, 6, 7): in the Targums it stands often for the Heb. shōter, officer,' as Ex. v. 6, 10; Deut. i. 15, xx. 5; Josh. i. 10; Prov. vi. 7 ('overseer').
was first] was one: so R.V. rightly.
that these satraps might give account unto them] strictly, might be giving account, i.e. might be permanently answerable to them, that the interests and revenues of the king were properly guarded. No such officials are mentioned elsewhere, except in so far as they may be regarded as the successors of the three Babylonian ministers, presupposed in v. 7, 16, 29. Darius Hystaspis, as a check upon his satraps, appointed in each satrapy an independent military commandant, and a royal 'scribe,' or secretary, whose business it was to report to the king the doings of the satrap (Hdt. iii. 128; Rawl., Anc. Mon. iii. 424).
was preferred] distinguished himself, or (R.V.) was distinguished. The root idea of the word is to shine, hence to be illustrious. It is common in Syriac in the sense of praeclare se gessit, representing for instance the Greek διαλάμπειν, εὐδοκιμεῖν, εὐδοξεῖν (Payne Smith, col. 2438). Was preferred' means here was advanced or promoted, in accordance with the old sense of 'prefer,' preserved now only in ‘preferment'; see Est. ii. 9; John i. 15, 27; and the Bible WordBook.
princes] satraps. So vv. 4, 6, 7.
an excellent spirit] a surpassing spirit, as v. 12.
4. sought to find occasion, &c.] They were evidently jealous that a man of alien race and creed should be exalted above themselves.
concerning] as touching (R.V.): lit. from the side of. The meaning of course is, any charge of disloyalty, or any remissness or neglect in the discharge of his public office.
error] or negligence: iii. 29.
5. law] dath, the same Persian word, which is found in ii. 9, 13, 15, and also in vi. 8, 12, 15, and constantly in Esther. Here, as in Ezr. vii. 12, 14, 21, 25, 26, it denotes the Jewish law (Heb. tôrāh).
assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, 7 the governors, and the princes, the counsellers and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
6. assembled together] came thronging (A.V. marg.; R.V. marg. came tumultuously). The word occurs several times in the Aramaic of the Targums, where it corresponds to Heb. words signifying to be in commotion or tumult, as Ps. xlvi. 6, 'nations were in tumult,' Ruth i. 9, and all the inhabitants of the city were in commotion on account of them'; and it occurs once in Heb., Ps. ii. 1, 'Why do the nations throng tumultuously?' The expression is thus a more vivid and graphic one than would be inferred from the rend. of A.V.: the courtiers, in their animosity against Daniel, are represented as flocking tumultuously to the king, for the purpose of gaining his co-operation in their plan.
live for ever] see on ii. 4.
7. All the presidents] of course, with the exception of Daniel, who was one of them (v. 2). But the misrepresentation may be meant to be intentional, as though to lead the king to suppose that the proposal had Daniel's approval.
the governors, and the princes, the counsellers and the captains] the praefects (ii. 48), and the satraps, the ministers (iii. 24), and the governors (iii. 2). Cf. the enumeration of officials in iii. 2, 3, 27.
to establish a royal statute] Of course, indirectly,-by prevailing upon the king to take action. A.V. marg. 'that the king should establish a statute, and make' &c., expresses the meaning more distinctly; but it is a less natural rendering of the Aramaic.
and to make a firm decree] and to make a stringent interdict. 'Interdict' (so A. V. marg., and R.V.) is lit. a binding, or restraining; and almost the same word is used in Num. xxx. 2, 3, 4, &c. of a restraining vow (A.V., R.V., 'bond'). The passive partic. of the cognate verb is common in the Mishna in the sense of 'prohibited.'
a petition] The meaning probably is, not any petition absolutely, but any petition of the nature of a prayer, or request addressed formally to a superior. The interdict has been deemed an incredible one; but some allowance must be made for what an oriental despot might prescribe in a freak of humour. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that the king should accede so readily to the proposal made to him, without either consulting the minister whose judgement he specially trusted (v. 3), or reflecting upon the difficulties in which it might involve him.
the den of lions] the reference is "to the custom which existed already among the Assyrians, and from them was passed on to the
1 Cf. the cogn. subst. throng, Ps. lv. 14 (so R.V.), lxiv. 2 (R.V. 'tumult,' marg. 'throng').