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Daniel 1:3

3. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and the of the king’s seed, and of the princes;

3. Et mandavit1 7070     Or, declared — Calvin. Rex Aspenazo 7171     Or, said to Aspenaz, as those who retain the Hebrew phrase translate it. — Calvin. principi eunuchorum, ut educeret e filiis Israel et ex semine regio, et ex principibus. 7272     Or, elders — Calvin.

 

Here Daniel pursues his narrative, and shows the manner in which he was led away together with his companions. The king had demanded young men to be brought, not from the ordinary multitude, but from the principal nobility, who stood before him, that is, ministered to him. Hence, we ascertain why Daniel and his companions were chosen, because they were noble young men and of the royal seed, or at least of parents who surpassed others in rank. The king did this purposely to show himself a conqueror; he may also have taken this plan designedly, to retain hostages in his power; for he hoped, as we shall see, that those who were nourished in his palace would be degenerate and hostile to the Jews, and he thought their assistance would prove useful to himself. He also hoped, since they were born of a noble stock, that the Jews would be the more peaceable, and thus avoid all danger to those wretched exiles who were relations of the kings and the nobles. With regard to the words, he calls this Aspenaz the prince of eunuchs, under which name he means the boys who were nourished in the king’s palace to become a seminary of nobles; for it is scarcely possible that this Aspenaz was set over other leaders. But we gather from this place, that the boys whom the king held in honor and regard were under his custody. The Hebrews calls eunuchs סריסים, serisim, a name which belongs to certain prefects; for Potiphar is called by this name though he had a wife. So this name is everywhere used in Scripture for the satraps of a king; (Genesis 37:36; Genesis 40:2, 7;) but since satraps also were chosen from noble boys, they were probably called eunuchs, though they were not made so, yet Josephus ignorantly declares these Jewish children to have been made eunuchs. But when eunuchs existed among the luxuries of Oriental kings, as I have already said, those youths were commonly called by this name whom the king brought up as a kind of school of nobles, whom he might afterwards place over various province.

The king, therefore, commanded some of the children of Israel of the royal seed and of the nobles to be brought to him. So the sentence ought to be resolved; he did not command any of the common people to be brought to him, but some of the royal race, the more plainly to show himself their conqueror by doing all things according to his will. He means those “elders” who yet were in chief authority under the king of Judah. And Daniel also was of that tribe, as we shall afterwards see. The word פרתמים, pharthmim, “princes,” is thought to be derived from Perah, which is the Euphrates, and the interpreters understand prefects, to whom the provinces on the banks of the Euphrates were committed; but this does not suit the present passage where Jews are treated of. We now see the general signification of this name, and that all the elders ought to be comprehended under it. 7373     ‘This word has caused great difference of opinion among commentators. Theodotion does not attempt to explain it. Symmaehus takes it for the Parthians. Jerome interprets it by tyranni, and Saadias by their off-spring. Aben-Ezra considers it a foreign word; and R. Salom. Jarehi calls it Persian, and translates it “leaders” Hottinger and Aug. Pfeiffer both treat it as Persian, but derive it from different roots. “Nobles” or “elders” seems its best English equivalent. — The rest tomorrow.


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