Daniel 1:11-13

11. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,

11. Et dixit Daniel ad Meltsar, quem constituerat praefectus eunuchorum super Danielem, Hananiah, Misael, et Azariah,

12. Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.

12. Proba 1 servos tuos diebus decem, et apponantur nobis de leguminibus, 2 et comedemus, 3 aet aquae, quas bibamus.

13. 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 thou seest, deal with thy servants.

13. Et inspiciantur coram facie tua vultus nostri, et vultus puero- rum, qui vescuntur portione 4 cibi regis et quemadmodum videris fac cum servis tuis.


Since Daniel understood from the answer of the prefect that he could not obtain his wish, he now addresses his servant. For the prefect had many servants under him, according to the custom of important stewardships. Most probably the steward's duty was similar to that of the Chief Steward of the Household, 5 as it exists at this time in France. Daniel and his companions were under the care of one of these servants; Daniel descends to this remedy and obtains his wish. though, as we shall see, not without some artifice. And here Daniel's singular constancy is observable, who after trying the matter once in vain, did not cease to pursue the same object It is a clear and serious proof of our faith, when we are not fatigued when anything adverse occurs, and never consider the way closed against us. Then if we do not retrace our steps, but try all ways, we truly show the root of piety fixed in our hearts. It might have seemed excusable in Daniel, after he had met with his first repulse; for who would not have said he had discharged his duty, and that an obstacle had prevailed over him! But; since he did not prevail with the chief prefect, he goes to his servant. Thus voluntarily to incur risk was the result of no common prudence. For this servant could not make the same objection, as we have just heard the prefect did. Without doubt he had heard of Daniel's request, and of his repulse and denial; hence Daniel is beforehand with him, and shows how the servant may comply without the slightest danger; as if he had said, -- We, indeed, did not obtain our wish from the prefect because he was afraid of his life, but I have now thought of a new scheme by which you may both gratify us and yet not become chargeable with any crime, as the whole matter will be unknown. Try thy servants, therefore, for ten days, and prove them; let nothing but pulse be given us to eat and water to drink. If after that time our faces are fresh and plump, no suspicion will attach to time, and no one will be persuaded that we are not treated delicately according to the king's commandment. Since, then, this proof will be sufficiently safe for thee, and cautious enough for us both, there is no reason why you should reject our prayers. Besides, without the slightest doubt, when Daniel brought this forward, he was directed by God's Spirit to this act of prudence, and was also impelled to make this request. By the singular gift of the Holy Spirit Daniel invented this method of bending the mind of the servant under whose care he was placed. We must hold, then, that this was not spoken rashly or of his own will, but by the instinct of the Holy Spirit. It would not have been duty but rashness, if Daniel had been the author of this plan, and had not been assured by the Lord of its prosperous issue. Without doubt. he had some secret revelation on the subject; and if the servant allowed him and His associates to feed on pulse, it was a happy answer to his prayers. Hence, I say, he would not have spoken thus, except under the guidance and command of the Spirit. And this is worthy of notice, since we often permit ourselves to do many things which turn out badly, because we are carried away by the mere feelings of the flesh, and do not consider what is pleasing to God. It is not surprising, then, when men indulge in various expectations, if they feel themselves deceived at last, since every one occasionally imposes upon himself by foolish hopes, and thus frustrates his designs. Indeed, it is not our province to promise ourselves any success. Hence let us notice how Daniel had not undertaken or approached the present business with any foolish zeal; and did not speak without due consideration, but was assured of the event by the Spirit of God.

But he says, let pulse be put before us to eat, and water to drink. We see, then, that the foul youths did not abstain from the royal food for fear of pollution; for there was no law to prevent any one drinking wine, except the Nazarites, (Numbers 6:2,) and they might eat of any kind of flesh, of which there was abundance at the royal table. Whence then sprang this scrupulousness? because, as we said yesterday, Daniel was unwilling to accustom himself to the delicacies of the palace, which would cause him to become degenerate. He wished, therefore, to nourish his body not only frugally, but abstemiously, and not to indulge in these tastes; for although he was raised to the highest honors, he was always the same as if still among the most wretched captives. There is no occasion for seeking other reasons for this abstinence of Daniel's. For he might have fed on ordinary bread and other less delicate food; but he was content with pulse, and was continually lamenting and nourishing in his mind the remembrance of his country, of which he would have been directly forgetful if he had been plunged into those luxuries of the palace. It follows --

1 Or try. -- Calvin.

2 Simply pulse. -- Calvin.

3 Which we may eat. -- Calvin.

4 A piece, as we said. -- Calvin.

5 Du grand Escuyer. -- Fr. Trans.