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Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and 46 worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets,
been stated, in the apocalyptic style: cf. viii. 26, X. 1, xi. 2; Rev. xxi. 5, xxii. 6.
46–48. Nebuchadnezzar is profoundly impressed by Daniel's skill, and bestows upon him high honour and rewards (cf. 'the promise of v. 6).
46. fell upon his face) a mark of respect—whether to God, as Gen. xvii. 3, or to men, 2 Sam. ix. 6, xiv. 4.
and worshipped Daniel] bowed down to Daniel,—the word used in iii. 5, 6, 7 &c. of adoration paid to a deity. In the Targums, however, the same word is used (for the Heb. to prostrate oneself to) of obeisance done to a human superior (as 2 Sam. xiv. 33, xviii. 21, 28, xxiv. 20); so that it does not necessarily imply the payment of divine honour.
that they should offer) lit. pour out,—the word used of pouring out a libation or drink-offering (2 Ki. xvi. 13, and elsewhere), though here employed evidently in a more general sense.
an oblation] The word means properly a present, especially one offered as a mark of homage or respect (Gen. xxxii. 13, xliii. 11); it is also used generally in the sense of an oblation presented to God (Gen. iv. 3, 4, 5; 1 Sam. ii. 1.7), as well as technically, in the priestly terminology, of the 'meal-offering? (Lev. iii. &c.). The second of these three senses is the most probable here.
sweet odours] lit. rests or contentments. The word is that which occurs in the sacrificial expression sweet savour' (Gen. viii. 21; Lev. i. 2, &c.), lit. 'savour of rest or contentment': it is used (exceptionally) without 'savour,' exactly as here, in Ezr. vi. 10, that they may offer rests (or contentments) to the God of heaven.' 'Bowed down to' is ambiguous; but the subsequent parts of the verse certainly represent Dani as receiving the homage due to a god. Daniel does not refuse the homage (contrast Acts xiv. 13-18): in the view of the writer, he is (cf. v. 47) the representative of the God of gods to Nebuchadnezzar. Compare the story in Jos. Ant. XI. viii. 5, according to which Alexander the Great prostrated himself before the Jewish high-priest, and when asked by his astonished general, Parmenio, why he did so, replied, “I do not worship the high-priest, but the God with whose high-priesthood he has been honoured.”
47. a God...a Lord] the God... the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges the supremacy of Daniel's God over all other gods, and His sovereignty over all kings. 'Lord of lords' (bel bêlê), and 'Lord of gods' (bel ilâni), are titles often given by the Babylonian kings (including Nebuchadnezzar) to Marduk, the supreme god of Babylon ; but it is doubtful whether the terms here used were chosen with allusion to the fact. 'God of gods,' as Deut. x. 17; Ps. cxxxvi. 2; ch. xi. 36.
a revealer of secrets) as Daniel had averred, v. 28; cf. v. 22.
18 seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. Then the king made
Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and
chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abed-nego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon : but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
couldest] better, hast been able to.
48. made Daniel a great man] made Daniel great, i.e. advanced, promoted him.
made him to rule, &c.] i.e., probably, made him administrator of the principal province of the empire, in which the capital was; opp. to the local provinces,' iii. 2.
and (appointed him) chief of the praefects over, &c.] The idea appears to be (Hitz., Keil, Pusey, p. 20) that each division, or class (v. 2), of the 'wise men' had its own head; and Daniel was promoted to have the supervision of them all. Cf. iv. 9, v. 11 (“made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and determiners of sates'). Praefect (segan, Heb. sāgān) recurs iii. 2, 3, 27, vi. 7; and is found also in Jer. li. 23, 28, 57; Ez. xxiii. 6, 12, 23; Is. xli. 25 (A.V. in Jer., Ez. rulers, in Is. princes; R.V. always deputy or ruler). It is a Hebraized form of the Assyrian shaknu (from shakanu, to appoint), a word used constantly in the inscriptions of the 'praefect' appointed by the Assyrian king to govern a conquered district, or a city. Here the term is used more generally, as it is also in Ezr. ix. 2, Neh. ii. 16, iv. 14, 19, v. 7, 17, vii. 5, xii. 40, xiii. II, of certain civic officials in Jerusalem (A.V., R. V., ruler').
On the historical difficulty arising out of this statement respecting Daniel, see the Introd. p. lv, note.
49. At Daniel's request, his three companions are transferred from the ranks of those who 'stood before the king' (i. 19) to positions of authority over the business of the province of Babylon, -i.e., probably, to act as deputies or assistants to Daniel himself. Daniel's motive in making this request may have been either simply the promotion of his three friends, or (Hitz., Keil, Meinh.) that he himself might be relieved of duties necessitating his absence from Nebuchadnezzar's court.
but Daniel was in the gate of the king) at the main entrance to the palace; fig. for, he remained at court (Sept. év Tân Baoiliký aúln). Cf. Est. ii. 19, 21, where it is said that Mordecai 'sat in the king's gate' (cf. iii. 2, 3, iv. 2, 6, v. 9, 13, vi. 10, 12); and Xen. Cyrop. vii. i. 6 (cf. Hdt. iii. 120), where this is said to have been the usual custom with the officials of the Persian court. The verse is apparently written in view of chap. iii. (see vv. 3 end, 12).
Additional Note on 'Excellent' and 'Excellency.' The following synopsis of the occurrences of these words in A.V., R.V., and in the P.B. Version of the Psalms, may illustrate and support what is said above with regard to their meaning in these versions.
Excellency stands for
in. superiority: A.V., R.V. Gen. xlix. 3; A.V. Job iv. 21; and in ‘have the excellency' for 7717 to shew superiority, Gen. xlix. 4 R.V.
1970' superiority: A.V., R.V. Eccl. vii. 12.
118) majesty, fig. glory, pride: A.V., R.V. Ex. xv. 7, Ps. xlvii. 4, Is. Ix. 15, Am. vi. 8 (R.V. marg. pride), viii, 7, Nah. ii. 2; A. V. Job xxxvii. 4 (R. V. majesty), Is. xiii. 19 (R.V. glory), Ez. xxiv. 21 (R. V. pride); R.V. Job xl. 10.
jika majesty: A.V., R.V. Deut. xxxiii. 26, 29, Ps. lxviii. 34.
DNV uprising, loftiness, dignity: A.V., R.V. Job xiii. II, Ps. lxii. 4; R.V. Job xxxi. 23.
da un loftiness, dignity: A.V., R.V. Job xx. 6.
åpeth virtue: R.V. 1 Pet. ii. 91. And excellent is used for
Aboga greatness: A.V., R.V. Est. i. 4 (lit. the majesty of his greatnėss).
8200 great : A.V., R. V. Job xxxvii. 23. : 7'78 grand, glorious (Is. xxxiii. 21), noble (Judg. v. 13): P.B.V., A.V., R.V. Ps. viii. 1, 9; A.V., R.V. Ps. xvi. 3, lxxvi. 4.
ap' precious: P.B.V., A.V. Ps. xxxvi. 7 (R.V. precious); A.V. Prov. xvii. 27 (following the Qrê : R.V. follows the K’tib).
obuo's upwards (paraphrased) : P.B. V. Ps. lxxiv. 6 (based on Seb. Münster's rendering, ad sublime aliquid).
722) glorious: P.B.V. Ps. lxxxvii. 2.
2009 exalted: P.B.V. Ps. cxxxix. 5 (A.V., R. V. high); P.B.V., A.V. Ps. cxlviii. 12 [A. V. 13] (R.V. exalted).
URT head, fig. top, chiefness: A.V. Ps. cxli. 5 (lit. oil of chiefness).
27 abundance: P.B.V., A.V., R.V. Ps. cl. 2 (lit. the abundance of his greatness).
D'7'10 princely things. A.V., R.V. Prov. viii. 6. no superior: A.V. Prov. xii. 26 (R.V. derives the word differently).
superiority: A.V., R. V. Prov. xvii. 7 (lit. speech of superiority), d'ubo captain-like (?), i.e. noble (?) things: A.V., R:V. Prov. xxii.
1 Used here in its weakened modern sense.
7inchoice: A.V., R.V. Cant. v. 15 ('excellent as the cedars').
Sogan to make great: A.V., R.V. Is. xxviii. 29 (ʻis excellent [i.e. is surpassing) in wisdom,' lit. maketh wisdom great).
no surpassing: A.V., R.V. Dan. ii. 31, iv. 36, v. 12, 14, vi. 3.
Td dlapépovra the things that excel (or are of value, Mt. x. 31) R.V. Rom. ii. 18 (A.V. more excellent); A.V., R.V. Phil. i. 10.
Meyalom perns magnificent, transcendent, A.V., R.V. 2 Pet. i. 17.
In Ps. cxxxvi. 5 P.B.V. there is nothing in the Heb. corresponding to excellent, though it evidently means surpassing; and in Eż. xvi. 9 A.V., R.V., 'ornament of ornaments' (i.e. choicest ornament) is paraphrased by excellent ornament(s).
More excellent is used in Eccl. vii. 11 R. V. for 701 superior; in Rom. ii. 18 A.V. for drapépovta; and in A.V., R.V. I Cor. xii. 31 in the rendering of TÀU ka' Teppoliny odbv; Heb. i. 4, viii. 6 for diapopútepos; Heb. xi. 4 for aleiwr. Most excellent represents kpáTLOTOS in A.V., R. V. Luke i. 3, Acts xxiii. 26, and in R.V. Acts xxiv. 3,
Cf. in the Collect for St Peter's Day, 'many excellent gifts,' in the Collect for Quinquagesima Sunday, 'that most excellent gift charity' (with allusion to i Cor. xii. 31, just quoted), in the form of Solemnization of Matrimony, 'who hast consecrated the state of Matrimony to such an excellent mystery,' and in the Ordering of Priests, "as your office is...of so great excellency,'—all in the sense of pre-eminent, pre-eminency:
In view of the weakened sense in which hoth these words are used in modern times, it is to be regretted that they have been retained in R.V. in passages in which the real meaning is something so very different. Let the reader mark on the margin of his Revised Version the true meaning of the Hebrew (and Greek) in the passages in which it is not already given; and he will find (in most cases) how greatly they gain in expressiveness and force.
CHAP. III. DANIEL's Three COMPANIONS RESCUED FROM
Nebuchadnezzar erects in the plain of Dura, near Babylon, a colossal golden image, and assembles 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 (00. I-7). Daniel's three companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, refusing to do this, are cast into the furnace; but, to the king's surprise, are wonderfully delivered from the power of the flame (vv. 8—27). Thereupon Nebuchadnezzar solemnly acknowledges the power of their God, issues a decree threatening death to any who presume to blaspheme Him, and bestows upon the three men various marks of favour (vv. 28-30).
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose 3
The narrative has a didactic aim. It depicts a signal example of religious heroism; and at the same time presents a striking concrete illustration of the words of the second Isaiah (xliii. 2), When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the fire kindle upon thee.' Circumstances sometimes arise, under which it may be a point of duty for the faithful servant of God to prefer death to apostasy; and the three Jewish youths are represented as yielding themselves courageously to a martyr's death, without the least expectation that they would be delivered from it. In the time of the Maccabees (see 1 Macc. i. 62, 63; and the words of Mattathias, ii. 19-22), as also during the persecutions in the early centuries of Christianity, the alternative, martyrdom or apostasy, became a very real one; and constancy and faith won many splendid triumphs.
There was a popular Jewish legend respecting Abraham that for refusing to worship Nimrod's gods he was cast by him into a furnace of fire, and miraculously delivered".
1–7. Nebuchadnezzar's proclamation regarding the image.
1. Nebuchadnezzar] Sept., Theod., Pesh. prefix 'In the eighteenth year,' which would be the year before Jerusalem was finally taken by the Chaldaeans (2 Ki. xxv. 8). Sept. also has an addition stating the occasion on which the image was erected: it was while he was 'organizing (Olockv) cities and countries, and all the inhabitants of the earth, from India to Ethiopia.' The addition is probably nothing but a Midrashic embellishment: we at least know nothing from any other source of Nebuchadnezzar's empire as extending to the limits named, or of his conducting military expeditions except in the direction of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt (exclusive of Ethiopia).
made an image of gold, &c.] The expression does not mean necessarily that it was of solid gold; it might be used of an image that was merely (in the ancient fashion) overlaid with gold: the 'altar of gold' of Ex. xxxix. 38 was in reality only overlaid with gold (Ex. xxx. 3). It is not expressly stated what the image represented; it is not however described as the image of a god, so in all probability it represented Nebuchadnezzar himself. It was a common practice of the Assyrian kings to erect images of themselves with laudatory inscriptions in conquered cities, or provinces, as symbols of their dominion, the usual expression in such cases being șa-lam sarru-ti-a (šur-ba-a) ipu-uš, “a (great) image of my royalty I made"; see KB. i. 69, 1. 98 f. ; 73, 1. 5; 99, 1. 25; 133, 1. 31; 135, 1. 71; 141, 1. 93; 143, 1. 124; 147, 1. 156; 155, 1. 26, &c. (all from the reigns of Asshur-naşir-abal, B.C. 885–860, and Shalmaneșer II., B.C. 860—825): Jastrow (Relig: of Bab. and Ass., 1898, p. 669) remarks that, inasmuch as in the inscriptions the victories of the armies were commonly ascribed to the help of the gods, a homage
i See Hastings' Dict. of the Bible, i. 17, Bee Leben Abraham's nach der Jud. Sage, P: 11 ff. ; and cf. Ball, Pref. to the Song of the Three Children, in the Speaker's Comm. on the Apocrypha, ii. 305—7 (where also various Talmudic and Midrashic developments of the narrative of Dan. iii. are quoted).