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such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank:
as a Latinism for 'knowledge,' used in default of any more colourless synonym.
ability] Properly, power; i.e. capacity, both physical and mental. to stand] to take their place-with a suggestion of the idea of serving, which, with 'before' (see on v. 5), the word regularly denotes.
learning] literature: lit. book(s), writing(s), cf. Is. xxix. 11, 12. and the tongue of the Chaldeans] 'Chaldeans' is used here, not in the ethnic sense, which the word has in other books of the O. T., but to denote the learned class among the Babylonians, i.e. the priests, a large part of whose functions consisted in the study and practice of magic, divination, and astrology, and in whose hands there was an extensive traditional lore relating to these subjects (see more fully below, p. 12 ff.). The word has the same sense elsewhere in the Book of Daniel (ii. 2, 4, 5, 10, iii. 8 (prob.), iv. 7, v. 7, 11). The literature on the subjects named is what is referred to in the present verse. The 'tongue of the Chaldeans' would be Babylonian, a Semitic language, but very different from Hebrew, so that it would have to be specially studied by a Jew. Many of the magical texts preserved in the cuneiform script are also written in the non-Semitic Sumerian (or 'Accadian'); but it is hardly likely that the distinction between these two languages was present to the author.
5. a daily portion of the king's delicacies] Superior food, such as was served at the table of the king himself, was to be provided for the selected youths. It was a compliment to send anyone a portion of food from the table of a king or great man (Gen. xliii. 34, in Egypt; 2 Sam. xi. 8, in Israel: 2 Ki. xxv. 30, in Babylon, may be similar); and at least in Persia the principal attendants of the king, especially his military ones, seem to have had their provision from the royal table (Plut. Quaest. Conv. VII. iv. 5; Athen. iv. 26, p. 145 e, f.). The word rendered 'delicacies' (pathbag) is a peculiar one, found in the O.T. only in Dan.: it is of Persian origin, and passed (like many other Persian words) into Syriac (Payne Smith, Thes. Syr. col. 3086 f.), as well as into late Hebrew. The Persian original would be patibāga, 'offering,' 'tribute' (from pati, Sanskr. prati, Greek Tоri, Tрori, to, and bag, tribute, Sk. bhaga, portion). The Sansk. pratibhaga actually occurs, and means 'a share of small articles, as fruit, flowers, &c., paid daily to the Rája for household expenditure1.' The Pers. patibāga originally, no doubt, denoted similarly choice food offered to the king, though in Heb. and Syriac pathbag was used more widely of
1 Gildemeister, as quoted by Max Müller, ap. Pusey, p. 565.
2 Dinon in his Persica, writing c. 340 B. C., says (ap. Athen. xi. 503) that moriBasis (which must be the same word) denoted a repast of cakes and wine, such as was prepared for the kings of Persia (ἔστι δὲ ποτίβαζις ἄρτος κρίθινος καὶ πύρινος ὀπτὸς καὶ κυπαρίσσου στέφανος καὶ οἶνος κεκραμένος ἐν ᾠῷ χρυσῷ οὗ αὐτὸς βασιλεὺς πίνει).
so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the 6 children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach ; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego.
choice food, or delicacies, in general. The word recurs in vv. 8, 13,
15, 16, xi. 26.
and that they should be nourished] or brought up: lit. made great: so Is. i. 2, xxiii. 4 al.
stand before the king] as his attendants, to wait upon him: Deut. i. 38; 1 Ki. x. 8, xii. 8.
6, 7. Among the noble youths thus selected were four belonging to the tribe of Judah, who are named specially as forming the subject of the following narratives.
6. Mishael] 'Who is what God is?' (cf. Michael, 'Who is like God?'), a name found also in Ex. vi. 22, Lev. x. 4 (of a cousin of Moses'); and in Neh. viii. 4.
7. And the prince of the eunuchs gave names unto them: unto Daniel he gave, &c.] as R.V. 'Prince' (Heb. sar, i.e. here, governor, superintendent, 1 Ki. ix. 22 ['rulers'], xxii. 26) is a synonym of the rab of v. 3 (cf. Gen. xxxvii. 36 with Jer. xxxix. 9). The practice of giving a person a new name, when admitted into the public service of a foreign country, is well attested in the case of Egypt (see not only Gen. xli. 45, but also Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, p. 517 f.), and was probably usual elsewhere. There is an example, though it is not quite parallel, quoted from the reign of the Assyrian king, Esarhaddon, when Neco's son was made viceroy of Athribis under the Assyrian name of Nabu-ušêzib-anni ('Nebo saves me'). In the present instance the change has the effect in each case of obliterating the name of God: Daniel, God is my judge'; Hananiah, 'Yah is gracious'; Mishael, 'Who is what God is?'; Azariah, 'Yah hath holpen.'
Belteshazzar] i.e. balâtsu-uşur, 'protect his life!'; probably elliptical for Bêl-balâtsu-uşur, 'Bel, protect his life!' The name (which recurs ii. 26, iv. 8, 9, 18, 19, v. 12) is quite distinct from Belshazzar (see on V. I).
Shadrach] Of uncertain meaning, but explained plausibly by Friedr. Delitzsch as Shudur-Aku, 'the command of Aku' (Aku being the Sumerian equivalent of Sin, the Semitic name of the Moon-god); cf. the proper name Kibit-Ishtar, 'the word, or command, of Ishtar.'
Meshach] Explained by Delitzsch, somewhat less satisfactorily, as a hybrid word, partly Hebrew and partly Babylonian, properly Misha-Aku, 'Who is what Aku is?', cf. Mishael above, and the Babylonian names Mannu-ki-Rammân, 'Who is like Rammân (Rimmon)?', and Mannu-ki-ilu, 'Who is like God?'
Abed-nego] generally recognized as a corruption of 'Abed-nebo, 'ser
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the 9 prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with
vant of Nebo' (Is. xlvi. 1). Proper names, compounded with 'Abd (or Ebed), 'servant,' are common in most Semitic languages; and, though it is not the usual word for servant in Babylonian, Babylonian names compounded with it occur. Indeed, the name Abed-nebo itself has been found in a bilingual (Assyr. and Aram.) inscription (Schrader, KAT2 ad loc.); it is also, as Prof. Bevan remarks, met with as that of a heathen Syrian long after the Christian era (Cureton's Ancient Syriac Documents, p. 14).
8-16. The loyalty to their faith shewn by the four Jewish youths. 8-10. Daniel and his companions crave to be allowed not to use the provision supplied from the royal table. The meat might be that of animals not slaughtered in the proper manner (Deut. xii. 23, 24), or of animals prohibited to the Jews as food (Lev. xi. 4-7, 10-12, 13-19, 20); while both the meat and the wine might have been consecrated to the Babylonian gods by portions having been offered to them in sacrifice, so that to partake of either would be tantamount to the recognition of a heathen deity (cf. 1 Cor. x. 20, 27—29). The Jews, especially in later times, attached great importance to the dietary laws, and were also very scrupulous in avoiding acts which, even indirectly, might seem to imply the recognition of a heathen deity. Antiochus Epiphanes, in his endeavour (B. C. 168) to Hellenize the Jews, sought to compel them both to sacrifice to heathen deities and to partake of unclean food; and resistance to his edict was a point on which the utmost stress was laid by the loyal Jews (1 Macc. i. 47, 48, 62, 63; cf. 2 Macc. vi. 18 ff., vii. 1). Comp. also 2 Macc. v. 27; Add. to Esther xiv. 17; Judith xii. 1, 2 (see x. 5); Tobit i. 10, 11 (where Tobit says that when he and his companions were taken captive to Nineveh, 'all my brethren and those that were of my kindred did eat of the bread of the Gentiles, but I kept myself from eating'). Josephus (Vita 3) speaks of certain priests who, being sent to Rome, partook on religious grounds of nothing but figs and nuts. For the abrogation of the principle, in the new dispensation, see Mark vii. 19 (R.V.), Acts x. 9-16,-comparing, however, also, I Cor. viii. 4-13.
with the king's delicacies] as v. 5.
purposed in his heart] lit. laid (it) on his heart, i.e. gave heed (Is. xlvii. 7, lvii. 11, Mal. ii. 2). 'Purposed' is too strong.
9. And God made Daniel to find kindness and compassion in the sight of, &c.] lit. gave Daniel to kindness and compassion before': exactly the same idiom which occurs (without kindness and') in 1 Ki. vi. 50 (whence Ps. cvi. 46). The pluperfect ('had brought') is grammatically incorrect: the meaning is that the kindness was experienced immediately after the request. Cf., though the expressions are different, the similar case of Joseph, Gen. xxxix. 21.
the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs 10 said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Then I said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy 12 servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us
10. for why should] i.e. 'lest,' which would in fact be the better rendering. The expression is the translation into Hebrew of the ordinary Aramaic idiom for 'lest' (cf. Theod. uŃ TOTE).
worse liking] An old English expression for 'in worse condition.' Cf. 'well-liking' in Ps. xcii. 13, P. B. V.; properly well-pleasing,' i.e. in good condition; and 2 Hen. IV. iii. 2, 92, 'You like well, and bear your years very well.' The Heb. is zo'ăphim, 'gloomy,' 'sad,'—in Gen. xl. 6 used of Pharaoh's butler and baker, who were troubled mentally, here of the dejected appearance produced by insufficient nutriment. Theod. σкveрwrά; cf. Matth. vi. 16.
than the youths (v. 4) which are of your own age (R.V.); so should ye (Bevan) make my head a forfeit (lit. make my head guilty) to the king] The two sentences might be rendered more concisely, 'lest he and ye make my head a forfeit,' &c. The officer who had charge of the Hebrew youths dreaded his master's displeasure if he should see them thriving badly under his care.
age] The word (gil), which occurs only here in the O. T., is found in the same sense in the Talmud (Levy, NHWB. i. 324); and in Samaritan, as Gen. vi. 9, xv. 16, xvii. 12, and often (not always), for the Heb. dôr ('generation').
11-16. From the answer given by the chief of the eunuchs, Daniel gathers that he does not view his request unfavourably, though he declines the responsibility of acceding to it himself. He therefore applies to the subordinate officer who has the immediate charge of himself and his companions, and induces him to try them temporarily with vegetable diet. The result of the experiment being satisfactory, the royal food is withdrawn from the Jewish youths.
11. Melzar] the melzar,-'melzar' being the title of some officer, or attendant, of the court. What officer is intended is, however, uncertain, as the word has not hitherto been satisfactorily explained. Friedr. Delitzsch thinks that Melzar may be the Ass. mazzaru, ‘keeper' (as in mazzar babi, 'keeper of the gate'), the taking the place of the doubled (cf. ẞáλoaμov from bassām); and Schrader agrees that this explanation is possible. The term evidently denotes some subordinate official, appointed by the chief of the eunuchs to be in personal charge of Daniel and his companions.
12. ten days] a round number of days (cf. Gen. xxiv. 55, xxxi. 7), sufficiently long to test the effects of the proposed diet.
let them] i.e. the people appointed for the purpose. A Hebrew
13 pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat and as 14 thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them 15 in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end
of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the 16 king's meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had under
idiom, the force of which would here be better expressed in English by the passive, let there be given us' (cf. Job vii. 3b, lit. 'they have appointed,' Ps. lxiii. 11a [A.V. 10a], lxiv. 9a [Ä.V. 8a]; and on ch. iv. 25).
pulse] rather vegetable food in general; there is no reason for restricting the Heb. word used to leguminous fruits, such as beans and peas, which is what the term 'pulse' properly denotes. Cf. Is. lxi. 11, where almost the same word is rendered the things that are sown,' i.e. vegetable products.
13. of the youths that eat the king's delicacies] as vv. 5, 8.
14. consented] hearkened (R.V.),—the expression exactly as 1 Sam.
15. and (they were) fatter in flesh, &c.] the expression as Gen. xli. 2, 18 (of the kine) 'fat-fleshed.'
the children, &c.] the youths which did eat the king's delicacies. 16. And the melzar continued taking away their delicacies,............ and giving them vegetable food] The Heb. idiom employed implies that the treatment which they received was now continuous.
17-19. At the end of the three years (v. 5), Daniel and his three companions are brought before the king; and being found by him to be the most proficient of all whom he had directed to be educated, are promoted to a place among his personal attendants.
17. Now as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge (the word rendered science in v. 4), and intelligence (cf. intelligent, v. 4) in all literature (v. 4) and wisdom] 'Wisdom' is used here, in a concrete sense, of an intelligently arranged body of principles, or, as we should now say, science. The term must be understood as representing the popular estimate of the subjects referred to: for the 'wisdom' of the Chaldaean priests, except in so far as it took cognizance of the actual facts of astronomy, was in reality nothing but a systematized superstition.
and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams] or, in every kind of vision and dreams.' This was a point in which Daniel excelled the rest. The words are intended as introductory to the narrative following.