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CHAPTER III

THE IDOL OF GOLD, AND THE FAITHFUL THREE

"Every goldsmith is put to shame by his molten image: for his molten image is vanity, and there is no breath in them. They are vanity, a work of delusion: in the time of their visitation they shall perish."—Jer. li. 17, 18.

"The angel of the Lord encampeth around them that fear Him, and shall deliver them."—Psalm xxxiv. 7.

"When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."—Isa. xliii. 2.

Regarded as an instance of the use of historic fiction to inculcate the noblest truths, the third chapter of Daniel is not only superb in its imaginative grandeur, but still more in the manner in which it sets forth the piety of ultimate faithfulness, and of that

"Death-defying utterance of truth"

which is the essence of the most heroic and inspiring forms of martyrdom. So far from slighting it, because it does not come before us with adequate evidence to prove that it was even intended to be taken as literal history, I have always regarded it as one of the most precious among the narrative chapters of Scripture. It is of priceless value as illustrating the deliverance of undaunted faithfulness—as setting forth the truth that they who love God and trust in Him must love Him and trust in Him even till the end, in spite not only of the most overwhelming peril, but even when168 they are brought face to face with apparently hopeless defeat. Death itself, by torture or sword or flame, threatened by the priests and tyrants and multitudes of the earth set in open array against them, is impotent to shake the purpose of God's saints. When the servant of God can do nothing else against the banded forces of sin, the world, and the devil, he at least can die, and can say like the Maccabees, "Let us die in our simplicity!" He may be saved from death; but even if not, he must prefer death to apostasy, and will save his own soul. That the Jews were ever reduced to such a choice during the Babylonian exile there is no evidence; indeed, all evidence points the other way, and seems to show that they were allowed with perfect tolerance to hold and practise their own religion.327327   The false prophets Ahab and Zedekiah were "roasted in the fire" (Jer. xxix. 22), which may have suggested the idea of this punishment to the writer; but it was for committing "lewdness"—"folly," Judg. xx. 6—in Israel, and for adultery and lies, which were regarded as treasonable. In some traditions they are identified with the two elders of the Story of Susanna. Assur-bani-pal burnt Samas-sum-ucin, his brother, who was Viceroy of Babylon (about b.c. 648), and Te-Umman, who cursed his gods (Smith, Assur-bani-pal, p. 138). Comp. Ewald, Prophets, iii. 240. See supra, p. 44. But in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes the question which to choose—martyrdom or apostasy—became a very burning one. Antiochus set up at Jerusalem "the abomination of desolation," and it is easy to understand what courage and conviction a tempted Jew might derive from the study of this splendid defiance. That the story is of a kind well fitted to haunt the imagination is shown by the fact that Firdausi tells a similar story from Persian tradition of "a martyr hero who came unhurt out of a fiery furnace."328328   Malcolm, Persia, i. 29, 30.

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This immortal chapter breathes exactly the same spirit as the forty-fourth Psalm.

"Our heart is not turned back,

Neither our steps gone out of Thy way:

No, not when Thou hast smitten us into the place of dragons,

And covered us with the shadow of death.

If we have forgotten the Name of our God,

And holden up our hands to any strange god,

Shall not God search it out?

For He knoweth the very secrets of the heart."

"Nebuchadnezzar the king," we are told in one of the stately overtures in which this writer rejoices, "made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits, and he set it up in the plains of Dura, in the province of Babylon."

No date is given, but the writer may well have supposed or have traditionally heard that some such event took place about the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar's reign, when he had brought to conclusion a series of great victories and conquests.329329   Both in Theodotion and the LXX. we have ἔτους ὀκτωκαιδεκάτου. The siege of Jerusalem was not, however, finished till the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar (2 Kings xxv. 8). Others conjecture that the scene occurred in his thirty-first year, when he was "at rest in his house, and flourishing in his palace" (Dan. iv. 4). Nor are we told whom the image represented. We may imagine that it was an idol of Bel-merodach, the patron deity of Babylon, to whom we know that he did erect an image;330330   Records of the Past, v. 113. The inscriptions of Nebuchadrezzar are full of glorification of Marduk (Merodach), id., v. 115, 135, vii. 75. or of Nebo, from whom the king derived his name. When it is said to be "of gold," the writer, in the grandiose character of his imaginative faculty, may have meant his words to be taken literally, or he may merely have meant that it was gilded, or overlaid with170 gold.331331   Comp. Isa. xliv. 9-20. Mr. Hormuzd Rassan discovered a colossal statue of Nebo at Nimroud in 1853. Shalmanezer III. says on his obelisk, "I made an image of my royalty; upon it I inscribed the praise of Asshur my master, and a true account of my exploits." Herodotus (i. 183) mentions a statue of Zeus in Babylon, on which was spent eight hundred talents of gold, and of another made of "solid gold" twelve ells high. There were colossal images in Egypt and in Nineveh, but we never read in history of any other gilded image ninety feet high and nine feet broad.332332   By the apologists the "image" or "statue" is easily toned down into a bust on a hollow pedestal (Archdeacon Rose, Speaker's Commentary, p. 270). The colossus of Nero is said to have been a hundred and ten feet high, but was of marble. Nestle (Marginalia, 35) quotes a passage from Ammianus Marcellinus, which mentions a colossal statue of Apollo reared by Antiochus Epiphanes, to which there may be a side-allusion here. The name of the plain or valley in which it was erected—Dura—has been found in several Babylonian localities.333333   Schrader, p. 430: Dur-Yagina, Dur-Sargina, etc. LXX., ἐν πεδίῳ τοῦ περιβόλου χώρας Βαβυλωνίας.

Then the king proclaimed a solemn dedicatory festival, to which he invited every sort of functionary, of which the writer, with his usual πύργωσις and rotundity of expression, accumulates the eight names. They were:—

1. The Princes, "satraps," or wardens of the realm.334334   LXX. and Vulg., satrapæ. Comp. Ezra viii. 36; Esther iii. 12. Supposed to be the Persian Khshatra-pāwan (Bevan, p. 79).

2. The Governors335335   Signî, Babylonian word (Schrader, p. 411). (ii. 48).

3. The Captains.336336   LXX., τοπάρχαι. Comp. Pechah, Ezra v. 14. An Assyrian word (Schrader, p. 577).

4. The Judges.337337   LXX., ἡγούμενοι. Perhaps the Persian endarzgar, or "counsellor."

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5. The Treasurers or Controllers.338338   LXX., διοικηταί. Comp. Ezra vii. 21; but Grätz thinks there is a mere scribe's mistake for the gadbarî of vv. 24 and 27.

6. The Counsellors.339339   This word is perhaps the old Persian dàtabard.

7. The Sheriffs.340340   The word is found here alone. Perhaps "advisers." On these words see Bevan, p. 79; Speaker's Commentary, pp. 278, 279; Sayce, Assyr. Gr., p. 110.

8. All the Rulers of the Provinces.

Any attempts to attach specific values to these titles are failures. They seem to be a catalogue of Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian titles, and may perhaps (as Ewald conjectured) be meant to represent the various grades of three classes of functionaries—civil, military, and legal.

Then all these officials, who with leisurely stateliness are named again, came to the festival, and stood before the image. It is not improbable that the writer may have been a witness of some such splendid ceremony to which the Jewish magnates were invited in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes.341341   Ewald, Prophets, v. 209; Hist., v. 294.

Then a herald (kerooza342342   The word has often been compared with the Greek κήρυξ, but the root is freely found in Assyrian inscriptions (Karaz, "an edict").) cried aloud343343   Comp. Rev. xviii. 2, ἔκραξεν ἐν ἰσχύϊ. a proclamation "to all peoples, nations, and languages." Such a throng might easily have contained Greeks, Phœnicians, Jews, Arabs, and Assyrians, as well as Babylonians. At the outburst of a blast of "boisterous janizary-music" they are all to fall down and worship the golden image.

Of the six different kinds of musical instruments, which, in his usual style, the writer names and reiterates,172 and which it is neither possible nor very important to distinguish, three—the harp, psaltery, and bagpipe—are Greek; two, the horn and sackbut, have names derived from roots found both in Aryan and Semitic languages; and one, "the pipe," is Semitic. As to the list of officials, the writer had added "and all the rulers of the provinces"; so here he adds "and all kinds of music."344344   See supra, p. 22. The qar'na (horn, κέρας) and sab'ka (σαμβύκη) are in root both Greek and Aramean. The "pipe" (mash'rôkîtha) is Semitic. Brandig tries to prove that even in Nebuchadrezzar's time these three Greek names (even the symphonia) had been borrowed by the Babylonians from the Greeks; but the combined weight of philological authority is against him.

Any one who refused to obey the order was to be flung, the same hour, into the burning furnace of fire. Professor Sayce, in his Hibbert Lectures, connects the whole scene with an attempt, first by Nebuchadrezzar, then by Nabunaid, to make Merodach—who, to conciliate the prejudices of the worshippers of the older deity Bel, was called Bel-merodach—the chief deity of Babylon. He sees in the king's proclamation an underlying suspicion that some would be found to oppose his attempted centralisation of worship.345345   See Hibbert Lectures, chap. lxxxix., etc.

The music burst forth, and the vast throng all prostrated themselves, except Daniel's three companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.

We naturally pause to ask where then was Daniel? If the narrative be taken for literal history, it is easy to answer with the apologist that he was ill; or was absent; or was a person of too much importance to be required to prostrate himself; or that "the Chaldeans" were afraid to accuse him. "Certainly,"173 says Professor Fuller, "had this chapter been the composition of a pseudo-Daniel, or the record of a fictitious event, Daniel would have been introduced and his immunity explained." Apologetic literature abounds in such fanciful and valueless arguments. It would be just as true, and just as false, to say that "certainly," if the narrative were historic, his absence would have been explained; and all the more because he was expressly elected to be "in the gate of the king." But if we regard the chapter as a noble Haggada, there is not the least difficulty in accounting for Daniel's absence. The separate stories were meant to cohere to a certain extent; and though the writers of this kind of ancient imaginative literature, even in Greece, rarely trouble themselves with any questions which lie outside the immediate purpose, yet the introduction of Daniel into this story would have been to violate every vestige of verisimilitude. To represent Nebuchadrezzar worshipping Daniel as a god, and offering oblations to him on one page, and on the next to represent the king as throwing him into a furnace for refusing to worship an idol, would have involved an obvious incongruity. Daniel is represented in the other chapters as playing his part and bearing his testimony to the God of Israel; this chapter is separately devoted to the heroism and the testimony of his three friends.

Observing the defiance of the king's edict, certain Chaldeans, actuated by jealousy, came near to the king and "accused" the Jews.346346   Comp. vi. 13, 14.

The word for "accused" is curious and interesting. It is literally "ate the pieces of the Jews,"347347   Akaloo Qar'tsîhîn. evidently174 involving a metaphor of fierce devouring malice.348348   It is "found in the Targum rendering of Lev. xix. 16 for a talebearer, and is frequent as a Syriac and Arabic idiom" (Fuller). Reminding the king of his decree, they inform him that three of the Jews to whom he has given such high promotion "thought well not to regard thee; thy god will they not serve, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."349349   Jerome emphasises the element of jealousy, "Quos prætulisti nobis et captivos ac servos principes fecisti, ii elati in superbiam tua præcepta contemnunt."

Nebuchadrezzar, like other despots who suffer from the vertigo of autocracy, was liable to sudden outbursts of almost spasmodic fury. We read of such storms of rage in the case of Antiochus Epiphanes, of Nero, of Valentinian I., and even of Theodosius. The double insult to himself and to his god on the part of men to whom he had shown such conspicuous favour transported him out of himself. For Bel-merodach, whom he had made the patron god of Babylon, was, as he says in one of his own inscriptions, "the Lord, the joy of my heart in Babylon, which is the seat of my sovereignty and empire." It seemed to him too intolerable that this god, who had crowned him with glory and victory, and that he himself, arrayed in the plenitude of his imperial power, should be defied and set at naught by three miserable and ungrateful captives.

He puts it to them whether it was their set purpose350350   The phrase is unique and of uncertain meaning. that they would not serve his gods or worship his image. Then he offers them a locus pœnitentiæ. The music should sound forth again. If they would then worship—but if not, they should be flung into the175 furnace,—"and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?"

The question is a direct challenge and defiance of the God of Israel, like Pharaoh's "And who is Jehovah, that I should obey His voice?" or like Sennacherib's "Who are they among all the gods that have delivered their land out of my hand?"351351   Exod. v. 2; Isa. xxxvi. 20; 2 Chron. xxxii. 13-17. It is answered in each instance by a decisive interposition.

The answer of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego is truly magnificent in its unflinching courage. It is: "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer thee a word concerning this.352352   Dan. iii. 16. LXX., οὐ χρείαν ἔχομεν; Vulg., non oportet nos. To soften the brusqueness of the address, in which the Rabbis (e.g., Rashi) rejoice, the LXX. add another Βασιλεῦ. If our God whom we serve be able to deliver us, He will deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and out of thy hand, O king. But if not,353353   Jerome explains "But if not" by Quodsi noluerit; and Theodoret by εἴτε οὖν ῥύεται εἴτε καὶ μή. be it known unto thee, O king,354354   iii. 18. LXX., καὶ τότε φανερόν σοι ἔσται. Tert., from the Vet. Itala, "tunc manifestum erit tibi" (Scorp., 8). that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

By the phrase "if our God be able" no doubt as to God's power is expressed. The word "able" merely means "able in accordance with His own plans."355355   Comp. Gen. xix. 22: "I cannot do anything until thou be come thither." The three children knew well that God can deliver, and that He has repeatedly delivered His saints. Such deliverances abound on the sacred page, and are mentioned in the Dream of Gerontius:—

"Rescue him, O Lord, in this his evil hour,

As of old so many by Thy mighty power:—

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Enoch and Elias from the common doom;

Noe from the waters in a saving home;

Abraham from th' abounding guilt of Heathenesse,

Job from all his multiform and fell distress;

Isaac, when his father's knife was raised to slay;

Lot from burning Sodom on its judgment-day;

Moses from the land of bondage and despair;

Daniel from the hungry lions in their lair;

David from Golia, and the wrath of Saul;

And the two Apostles from their prison-thrall."

But the willing martyrs were also well aware that in many cases it has not been God's purpose to deliver His saints out of the peril of death; and that it has been far better for them that they should be carried heavenwards on the fiery chariot of martyrdom. They were therefore perfectly prepared to find that it was the will of God that they too should perish, as thousands of God's faithful ones had perished before them, from the tyrannous and cruel hands of man; and they were cheerfully willing to confront that awful extremity. Thus regarded, the three words "And if not" are among the sublimest words uttered in all Scripture. They represent the truth that the man who trusts in God will continue to say even to the end, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." They are the triumph of faith over all adverse circumstances. It has been the glorious achievement of man to have attained, by the inspiration of the breath of the Almighty, so clear an insight into the truth that the voice of duty must be obeyed to the very end, as to lead him to defy every combination of opposing forces. The gay lyrist of heathendom expressed it in his famous ode,—

"Justum et tenacem propositi virum

Non civium ardor prava jubentium

Non vultus instantis tyranni

Mente quatit solidâ."

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It is man's testimony to his indomitable belief that the things of sense are not to be valued in comparison to that high happiness which arises from obedience to the law of conscience, and that no extremities of agony are commensurate with apostasy. This it is which, more than anything else, has, in spite of appearances, shown that the spirit of man is of heavenly birth, and has enabled him to unfold

"The wings within him wrapped, and proudly rise

Redeemed from earth, a creature of the skies."

For wherever there is left in man any true manhood, he has never shrunk from accepting death rather than the disgrace of compliance with what he despises and abhors. This it is which sends our soldiers on the forlorn hope, and makes them march with a smile upon the batteries which vomit their cross-fires upon them; "and so die by thousands the unnamed demigods." By virtue of this it has been that all the martyrs have, "with the irresistible might of their weakness," shaken the solid world.


On hearing the defiance of the faithful Jews—absolutely firm in its decisiveness, yet perfectly respectful in its tone—the tyrant was so much beside himself, that, as he glared on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, his very countenance was disfigured. The furnace was probably one used for the ordinary cremation of the dead.356356   Cremation prevailed among the Accadians, and was adopted by the Babylonians (G. Bertin, Bab. and Orient. Records, i. 17-21). Fire was regarded as the great purifier. In the Catacombs the scene of the Three Children in the fire is common. They are painted walking in a sort of open cistern full of flames, with doors beneath. The Greek word is κάμινος (Matt. xiii. 42), "a calcining furnace." He ordered that it should be heated178 seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated,357357   It seems very needless to introduce here, as Mr. Deane does in Bishop Ellicott's commentary, the notion of the seven Maskîm or demons of Babylonian mythology. In the Song of the Three Children the flames stream out forty-nine (7 × 7) cubits. Comp. Isa. xxx. 26. and certain men of mighty strength who were in his army were bidden to bind the three youths and fling them into the raging flames. So, bound in their hosen, their tunics, their long mantles,358358   The meaning of these articles of dress is only conjectural: they are—(1) Sarbālîn, perhaps "trousers," LXX. σαραβάροι, Vulg. braccæ; (2) Patîsh, LXX. τιάραι, Vulg. tiaræ; (3) Kar'bla, LXX. περικνημῖδες, Vulg. calceamenta. It is useless to repeat all the guesses. Sarbala is a "tunic" in the Talmud, Arab. sirbal; and some connect Patîsh with the Greek πέτασος. Judging from Assyrian and Babylonian dress as represented on the monuments, the youths were probably clad in turbans (the Median καυνάκη), an inner tunic (the Median κάνδυς), an outer mantle, and some sort of leggings (anaxurides). It is interesting to compare with the passage the chapter of Herodotus (i. 190) about the Babylonian dress. He says they wore a linen tunic reaching to the feet, a woollen over-tunic, a white shawl, and slippers. It was said to be borrowed from the dress of Semiramis. and their other garments, they were cast into the seven-times-heated furnace. The king's commandment was so urgent, and the "tongue of flame" was darting so fiercely from the horrible kiln, that the executioners perished in planting the ladders to throw them in, but they themselves fell into the midst of the furnace.

The death of the executioners seems to have attracted no special notice, but immediately afterwards Nebuchadrezzar started in amazement and terror from his throne, and asked his chamberlains,359359   Chald., haddab'rîn; LXX., οἱ φίλοι τοῦ βασιλέως. "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?"

"True, O king," they answered.

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"Behold," he said, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt, and the aspect of the fourth is like a son of the gods!"360360   The A.V., "like the Son of God," is quite untenable. The expression may mean a heavenly or an angelic being (Gen. vi. 2; Job i. 6). So ordinary an expression does not need to be superfluously illustrated by references to the Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions, but they may be found in Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, 128 and passim.

Then the king approached the door of the furnace of fire, and called, "Ye servants of the Most High God,361361   LXX., ὁ Θεὸς τῶν θεῶν, ὁ ὕψιστος. Comp. 2 Macc. iii. 31; Mark v. 7; Luke viii. 28; Acts xvi. 17, from which it will be seen that it was not a Jewish expression, though it often occurs in the Book of Enoch (Dillmann, p. 98). come forth." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire; and all the satraps, prefects, presidents, and court chamberlains gathered round to stare on men who were so completely untouched by the fierceness of the flames that not a hair of their heads had been singed, nor their hosen shrivelled, nor was there even the smell of burning upon them.362362   So in Persian history the Prince Siawash clears himself from a false accusation in the reign of his father Kai Kaoos by passing through the fire (Malcolm, Hist. of Persia, i. 38). According to the version of Theodotion, the king worshipped the Lord before them, and he then published a decree in which, after blessing God for sending His angel to deliver His servants who trusted in Him, he somewhat incoherently ordained that "every people, nation, or language which spoke any blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, should be cut in pieces, and his house made a dunghill: since there is no other god that can deliver after this sort."

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Then the king—as he had done before—promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the province of Babylon.363363   Comp. Psalm xvi. 12: "We went through fire and water, and Thou broughtest us out into a safe place."

Henceforth they disappear alike from history, tradition, and legend; but the whole magnificent Haggada is the most powerful possible commentary on the words of Isa. xliii. 2: "When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."364364   Comp. Gen. xxiv. 7; Exod. xxiii. 20; Deut. xxxvi. 1. The phrase applied to Joshua the high priest (Zech. iii. 2), "Is not this a brand plucked out of the burning?" originated the legend that, when the false prophets Ahab and Zedekiah had been burnt by Nebuchadrezzar (Jer. xxix. 22), Joshua had been saved, though singed. This and other apocryphal stories illustrate the evolution of Haggadoth out of metaphoric allusions.

How powerfully the story struck the imagination of the Jews is shown by the not very apposite Song of the Three Children, with the other apocryphal additions. Here we are told that the furnace was heated "with rosin, pitch, tow, and small wood; so that the flame streamed forth above the furnace forty and nine cubits. And it passed through, and burned those Chaldeans it found about the furnace. But the angel of the Lord came down into the furnace together with Azarias and his fellows, and smote the flame of the fire out of the oven; and made the midst of the furnace as it had been a moist whistling wind,365365   πνεῦμα νότιον διασύριζον, "a dewy wind, whistling continually." so that the fire touched them not at all, neither hurt nor troubled them."366366   Song of the Three Children, 23-27.

In the Talmud the majestic limitations of the Biblical181 story are sometimes enriched with touches of imagination, but more often coarsened by tasteless exhibitions of triviality and rancour. Thus in the Vayyikra Rabba Nebuchadrezzar tries to persuade the youths by fantastic misquotations of Isa. x. 10, Ezek. xxiii. 14, Deut. iv. 28, Jer. xxvii. 8; and they refute him and end with clumsy plays on his name, telling him that he should bark (nabach) like a dog, swell like a water-jar (cod), and chirp like a cricket (tsirtsir), which he immediately did—i.e., he was smitten with lycanthropy.367367   Vay. Rab., xxv. 1 (Wünsche, Bibliotheca Rabbinica).

In Sanhedrin, f. 93, 1, the story is told of the adulterous false prophets Ahab and Zedekiah, and it is added that Nebuchadrezzar offered them the ordeal of fire from which the Three Children had escaped. They asked that Joshua the high priest might be with them, thinking that his sanctity would be their protection. When the king asked why Abraham, though alone, had been saved from the fire of Nimrod, and the Three Children from the burning furnace, and yet the high priest should have been singed (Zech. iii. 2), Joshua answered that the presence of two wicked men gave the fire power over him, and quoted the proverb, "Two dry sticks kindle one green one."

In Pesachin, f. 118, 1, there is a fine imaginative passage on the subject, attributed to Rabbi Samuel of Shiloh:—

"In the hour when Nebuchadrezzar the wicked threw Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah into the midst of the furnace of fire, Gorgemi, the prince of the hail, stood before the Holy One (blessed be He!) and said, 'Lord of the world, let me go down and cool the furnace.' 'No,' answered Gabriel; 'all men know that hail182 quenches fire;368368   Ecclus. xviii. 16: "Shall not the dew assuage the heat?" but I, the prince of fire, will go down and make the furnace cool within and hot without, and thus work a miracle within a miracle.' The Holy One (blessed be He!) said unto him, 'Go down.' In the self-same hour Gabriel opened his mouth and said, 'And the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.'"

Mr. Ball, who quotes these passages from Wünsche's Bibliotheca Rabbinica in his Introduction to the Song of the Three Children,369369   Speaker's Commentary, on the Apocrypha, ii. 305-307. very truly adds that many Scriptural commentators wholly lack the orientation derived from the study of Talmudic and Midrashic literature which is an indispensable preliminary to a right understanding of the treasures of Eastern thought. They do not grasp the inveterate tendency of Jewish teachers to convey doctrine by concrete stories and illustrations, and not in the form of abstract thought. "The doctrine is everything; the mode of presentation has no independent value." To make the story the first consideration, and the doctrine it was intended to convey an after-thought, as we, with our dry Western literalness are predisposed to do, is to reverse the Jewish order of thinking, and to inflict unconscious injustice on the authors of many edifying narratives of antiquity.

The part played by Daniel in the apocryphal Story of Susanna is probably suggested by the meaning of his name: "Judgment of God." Both that story and Bel and the Dragon are in their way effective fictions, though incomparably inferior to the canonical part of the Book of Daniel.

And the startling decree of Nebuchadrezzar finds its analogy in the decree published by Antiochus the183 Great to all his subjects in honour of the Temple at Jerusalem, in which he threatened the infliction of heavy fines on any foreigner who trespassed within the limits of the Holy Court.370370   Jos., Antt., XII. iii. 3; Jahn, Hebr. Commonwealth, § xc.


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