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Defeat of Egyptians by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish.
Fall of Jerusalem.
555 (9 months). LABASHI-MARDUK (Laborisoarchod).
NABU-NA'ID (Nabonnēdus, Nabonidus).
CYRUS. Return of Jews under Zerubbabel.
CAMBYSES. 522 (7 months). GAUMATA (Pseudo-Smerdis).
522-485. DARIUS HYSTASPIS. 485-465. XERXES.
Persian empire overthrown by Alexander the Great.
Death of Alexander.
PTOLEMY IV (Philopator).
198. Antiochus the Great defeats Ptolemy Epiphanes at Paneion, and obtains possession of Palestine.
194-3. Antiochus the Great marries his daughter, Cleopatra, to Ptolemy Epiphanes.
187. SELEUCUS IV (Philopator).
182. PTOLEMY VI (Eupator).
175-164. ANTIOCHUS IV (Epi- 182-146. PTOLEMY VII (Philo
Jason purchases the high-priesthood from Antiochus, expelling his brother Onias III.
Menelaus, outbidding Jason, becomes high-priest.
Antiochus' first expedition into Egypt. On his return he
Antiochus' third (or second?) expedition into Egypt.
§ I. The person of Daniel and the contents of the Book.
ALL that is known of Daniel is contained substantially in the book which bears his name. The Book consists essentially of two parts: (1) a series of narratives (ch. i.—vi.), describing the experiences of Daniel and his companions, in the three reigns of Nebuchadnezzar (ch. i.—iv.), Belshazzar (ch. v.), and Darius the Mede (ch. vi.); and (2) a series of visions (ch. vii.—xii.), with introductions describing the circumstances attending them, purporting to have been seen by Daniel during the reigns of Belshazzar (ch. vii., viii.), Darius the Mede (ch. ix.), and Cyrus (ch. x.-xii.). The principal link connecting the two parts of the book is afforded by chaps. ii. and vii.—the four empires symbolized by the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream in ch. ii. being the same as the four empires symbolized by the four beasts seen by Daniel in his vision described in ch. vii. The following is an outline of the contents of the Book.
Nebuchadnezzar, having in the third year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah (B.C. 605), laid siege to Jerusalem, and carried away to Babylon several Jewish prisoners, determined shortly afterwards to have a number of noble and promising youths educated in the language and learning of the 'Chaldaeans,'-i.e. of the professors of divination, magic, and astrology in Babylon,—with a
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. II). At Daniel's request, his three friends also received promotionprobably 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