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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. I, viii. 9, the Persian empire was divided under Xerxes.
over] in, i.e. (R.V.) throughout.
2. three presidents] Aram. sārak, prob. a form derived from the istun Inscription of Darius (col. 1. par. 6) enumerates 23 provinces; the later (sepulchral) inscription of Naksh-i-Rustam (1. 7-19), 29: see RP1i. 111, 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, 3 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.
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, 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, 3, 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.1 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').
8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, 9 that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees
Persians, of keeping lions for the chase" (Bevan): cf. Ez. xix. 9. The word rendered 'den means properly a pit or dungeon: see the Targ. of Gen. xxxvii. 22; Jer. xxxviii. 6, 7; and cf. v. 23 (‘taken up '), and v. 24, end.
8. decree] interdict.
altereth not] lit. passeth not away. On the unalterableness of the edicts of a Persian king, cf. Est. i. 19 ('let it be written among the laws of the Persians and Medes, that it pass not away'), viii. 8 (a royal edict, properly signed and sealed, 'may no man reverse').
9. decree] interdict.
10. and his windows, &c.] more exactly, and also more clearly, now he had in his roof-chamber open windows fronting Jerusalem. The clause is parenthetical, and describes the constant and habitual arrangement of Daniel's windows.
roof-chamber] usually rendered upper chamber, which however does not at all suggest to an English reader what is intended. The 'roofchamber' was (and still is) an apartment 'raised above the flat roof of a house at one corner, or upon a tower-like annex to the building, with latticed windows giving free circulation to the air' (Moore on Judg. iii. 20). It was thus cool in summer (Judg. l. c.), and a part of the house to which anyone would naturally retire if he wished to be undisturbed (cf. 1 Ki. xvii. 19; 2 Ki. i. 2, iv. 10, 11). In the N.T. the roofchamber is mentioned as a place of meeting for prayer (Acts i. 13, xx. 8; cf. x. 9: see also ix. 37, 39). Comp. Thomson's The Land and the Book, ed. 2, 11. 634, 636 (with an illustration).
open] i.e., either without lattices at all, or without fixed lattices (cf. 2 Ki. i. 2, xiii. 17) opp. to 'closed windows' (Ez. xl. 16, xli. 16, 26), or 'windows with closed wood-work' (1 Ki. vi. 4), the lattices of which did not admit of being opened.
toward Jerusalem] To pray, turning towards Jerusalem-or, if in Jerusalem, towards the Temple-became in later times a standing Jewish custom: we do not know how early it began; but it was based doubtless upon 1 Ki. viii. 35, 38, 44, 48 (in this verse with reference to exiles in a foreign land), cf. Ps. v. 7, xxviii. 2. The custom is alluded to in the Mishna (Běrāchōth, iv. 5, 6); and in Sifrê 71b it is said that those in foreign lands turn in prayer towards the land of Israel, those in the land of Israel towards Jerusalem, and those in Jerusalem towards the Temple. Mohammed at first commanded his disciples to pray towards Jerusalem; but afterwards he altered the kibla (facing-point') to Mecca.
and he continued kneeling.... and praying, and giving thanks
three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the 12 king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they 13 and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the king, when he 14 heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and
before his God, forasmuch as he had been wont to do (it) aforetime] inasmuch as it had been his regular custom, he still adhered to it.
three times a day] Cf. Ps. Iv. 17 ('at evening, and at morning, and at noonday will I complain and moan'). In later times, the three hours of prayer were not as is often supposed, the third, sixth and ninth hours, but-the time when the morning burnt-offering was offered (nan), in the afternoon at the ninth hour (our three o'clock; cf. Acts iii. 1, x. 30), when the evening meal-offering was : see Schürer, ii. 237. The custom may well have arisen before the 2nd cent. B.C. On the prayers which, at least in later days, were used at the three times, see Hamburger, Real-Encyclop. vol. ii., arts. MORGEN-, MINCHA-, and ABENDGEBET.
: (תפלת הערב) and sunset ,(תפלת מנחה) offered
before his God] a usage of the later Jews (as in the Targum constantly), who, from a feeling of greater reverence, said 'to speak, pray, confess, &c. before God,' rather than 'to Him.' Cf. v. 22, end; also ii. 9, with the note. The later Jews even extended the same usage to cases in which God was really the agent: cf. Matt. xi. 26 (oÜTWS ÈYÉVEто Evdoкía Ĕμπрoσlév σov), xviii. 14 (see R.V. marg.); Luke xii. 6 (éπiλeλnoμévov ÉvÚTLOV TOû О‹Oû); Num. xiv. 8 Onk. ('if there is good pleasure in us before Jehovah'); and see Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, pp. 172-174.
11. assembled came thronging (v. 6),—flocking tumultuously about Daniel's house.
12. before the king] cf. v. 10; and see on ii. 9.
decree (twice)] interdict. So v. 13.
altercih not] lit. passeth not away (v. 8).
13. children of the exile of Judah] ii. 25, v. 13.
14. was sore displeased with himself] was sore displeased (R.V.):