The Babylonian Captivity Begins; Daniel's
Education at Babylon, &C.
1. third year—compare Jer 25:1, "the fourth year; Jehoiakim came
to the throne at the end of the year, which Jeremiah reckons as
the first year, but which Daniel leaves out of count, being an
incomplete year: thus, in Jeremiah, it is "the fourth year"; in
Daniel, "the third" [Jahn].
However, Jeremiah (Jer 25:1; 46:2) merely says, the fourth year of
Jehoiakim coincided with the first of Nebuchadnezzar, when the latter
conquered the Egyptians at Carchemish; not that the
deportation of captives from Jerusalem was in the fourth year of
Jehoiakim: this probably took place in the end of the third year of
Jehoiakim, shortly before the battle of Carchemish [Fairbairn]. Nebuchadnezzar took away the captives as
hostages for the submission of the Hebrews. Historical Scripture
gives no positive account of this first deportation, with which the
Babylonian captivity, that is, Judah's subjection to Babylon for
seventy years (Jer 29:10),
begins. But 2Ch 36:6, 7, states that Nebuchadnezzar had intended
"to carry Jehoiakim to Babylon," and that he "carried off the vessels
of the house of the Lord" thither. But Jehoiakim died at Jerusalem,
before the conqueror's intention as to him was carried into effect
(Jer 22:18, 19; 36:30), and his dead body, as was foretold,
was dragged out of the gates by the Chaldean besiegers, and left
unburied. The second deportation under Jehoiachin was eight years
2. Shinar—the old name of Babylonia
(Ge 11:2; 14:1; Isa 11:11; Zec 5:11). Nebuchadnezzar took only "part of the
vessels," as he did not intend wholly to overthrow the state, but to
make it tributary, and to leave such vessels as were absolutely needed
for the public worship of Jehovah. Subsequently all were taken away and
were restored under Cyrus (Ezr 1:7).
his god—Bel. His temple, as was often
the case among the heathen, was made "treasure house" of the king.
3. master of … eunuchs—called in
Turkey the kislar aga.
of the king's seed—compare the
prophecy, 2Ki 20:17, 18.
4. no blemish—A handsome form was
connected, in Oriental ideas, with mental power. "Children" means
youths of twelve or fourteen years old.
teach … tongue of …
Chaldeans—their language and literature, the
Aramaic-Babylonian. That the heathen lore was not altogether valueless
appears from the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses; the Eastern Magi
who sought Jesus, and who may have drawn the tradition as to the "King
of the Jews" from Da 9:24,
&c., written in the East. As Moses was trained in the learning of
the Egyptian sages, so Daniel in that of the Chaldeans, to familiarize
his mind with mysterious lore, and so develop his heaven-bestowed gift
of understanding in visions (Da 1:4, 5, 17).
5. king's meat—It is usual for an
Eastern king to entertain, from the food of his table, many retainers
and royal captives (Jer 52:33, 34). The Hebrew for "meat" implies
stand before the king—as attendant
courtiers; not as eunuchs.
6. children of Judah—the most noble
tribe, being that to which the "king's seed" belonged (compare Da 1:3).
7. gave names—designed to mark their new
relation, that so they might forget their former religion and country
41:45). But as in Joseph's
case (whom Pharaoh called Zaphnath-paaneah), so in Daniel's, the name
indicative of his relation to a heathen court ("Belteshazzar," that is,
"Bel's prince"), however flattering to him, is not the one retained by
Scripture, but the name marking his relation to God ("Daniel," God
my Judge, the theme of his prophecies being God's judgment
on the heathen world powers).
Hananiah—that is, "whom Jehovah hath
Shadrach—from Rak, in
Babylonian, "the King," that is, "the Sun"; the same root as in
Abrech (Ge 41:43,
Margin), "Inspired or illumined by the Sun-god."
Mishael—that is, "who is what God is?"
Who is comparable to God?
Meshach—The Babylonians retained the
first syllable of Mishael, the Hebrew name; but for El,
that is, God, substituted Shak,
the Babylonian goddess, called Sheshach (Jer 25:26; 51:41), answering to the Earth, or else Venus,
the goddess of love and mirth; it was during her feast that Cyrus took
Azariah—that is, "whom Jehovah
Abed-nego—that is, "servant of the
shining fire." Thus, instead of to Jehovah, these His servants were
dedicated by the heathen to their four leading gods [Herodotus, Clio]; Bel, the Chief-god, the
Sun-god, Earth-god, and Fire-god. To the last the three youths were
consigned when refusing to worship the golden image (Da 3:12). The Chaldee version translates
"Lucifer," in Isa 14:12,
Nogea, the same as Nego. The names thus at the outset are
significant of the seeming triumph, but sure downfall, of the heathen
powers before Jehovah and His people.
8. Daniel … would not defile himself with
… king's meat—Daniel is specified as being the leader
in the "purpose" (the word implies a decided resolution) to
abstain from defilement, thus manifesting a character already formed
for prophetical functions. The other three youths, no doubt, shared in
his purpose. It was the custom to throw a small part of the viands and
wine upon the earth, as an initiatory offering to the gods, so as to
consecrate to them the whole entertainment (compare De 32:38). To have partaken of such a feast would
have been to sanction idolatry, and was forbidden even after the legal
distinction of clean and unclean meats was done away (1Co 8:7, 10;
10:27, 28). Thus the faith of
these youths was made instrumental in overruling the evil foretold
against the Jews (Eze 4:13; Ho 9:3), to the glory of God. Daniel and his
three friends, says Auberlen, stand out
like an oasis in the desert. Like Moses, Daniel "chose rather to suffer
affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin
for a season" (Heb 11:25;
9:3-19). He who is to
interpret divine revelations must not feed on the dainties, nor drink
from the intoxicating cup, of this world. This made him as dear a name
to his countrymen as Noah and Job, who also stood alone in their piety
among a perverse generation (Eze 14:14; 28:3).
requested—While decided in principle,
we ought to seek our object by gentleness, rather than by an
ostentatious testimony, which, under the plea of faithfulness, courts
9. God … brought Daniel into
favour—The favor of others towards the godly is the doing of
God. So in Joseph's case (Ge 39:21).
Especially towards Israel (Ps 106:46;
10. worse liking—looking less
your sort—of your age, or
class; literally, "circle."
endanger my head—An arbitrary Oriental
despot could, in a fit of wrath at his orders having been disobeyed,
command the offender to be instantly decapitated.
11. Melzar—rather, the steward, or chief
butler, entrusted by Ashpenaz with furnishing the daily portion to the
youths [Gesenius]. The word is still in
use in Persia.
12. pulse—The Hebrew expresses
any vegetable grown from seeds, that is, vegetable food in
13-15. Illustrating De 8:3, "Man doth not live by bread only, but
by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord."
17. God gave them knowledge—(Ex 31:2, 3; 1Ki 3:12; Job 32:8; Jas 1:5, 17).
Daniel had understanding in …
dreams—God thus made one of the despised covenant-people
eclipse the Chaldean sages in the very science on which they most
prided themselves. So Joseph in the court of Pharaoh (Ge 40:5;
41:1-8). Daniel, in these
praises of his own "understanding," speaks not through vanity, but by
the direction of God, as one transported out of himself. See my Introduction, "Contents of the Book."
18. brought them in—that is, not only
Daniel and his three friends, but other youths (Da 1:3, 19, "among them all").
19. stood … before the king—that
is, were advanced to a position of favor near the throne.
20. ten times—literally, "ten
magicians—properly, "sacred scribes,
skilled in the sacred writings, a class of Egyptian priests" [Gesenius]; from a Hebrew root, "a pen."
The word in our English Version, "magicians," comes from
mag, that is, "a priest." The Magi formed one of the six
divisions of the Medes.
"enchanters," from a root, "to conceal," pactisers of the occult
21. Daniel continued … unto … first
year of Cyrus—(2Ch 36:22; Ezr 1:1). Not that he did not continue
beyond that year, but the expression is designed to mark the
fact that he who was one of the first captives taken to Babylon, lived
to see the end of the captivity. See my Introduction, "Significance of the Babylonian Captivity." In Da 10:1 he is mentioned as living "in the
third year of Cyrus." See Margin Note, on the use of "till"