17. As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
17. Et pueris illis quatuor, dedit, inquam, illis Deus cognitionem et scientiam in omni literatura et sapientia et Daniel intellexit in omni visione et somniis.
The Prophet here shows what we have already touched upon, how his authority was acquired for exercising the prophetic office with greater advantage. He ought to be distinguished by fixed marks, that the Jews first, and foreigners afterwards, might acknowledge him to be endued with the prophetic spirit. But a portion of this favor was shared with his three companions; yet he excelled them all, because God fitted him specially for his office. Here the end is to be noticed, because it would be incorrect to say that their reward was bestowed by God, because they lived both frugally and heavenly, and spontaneously abstained from the delicacies of the palace; for God had quite a different intention. For he wished, as I have already said, to extol Daniel, to enable him to shew with advantage that Israel's God is the only God; and as he wished his companions to excel hereafter in political government, he presented them also with some portion of his Spirit. But it is worth while to set Daniel before our eyes; because, as I have said, before God appointed him his Prophet, he wished to adorn him with his own insignia, to procure confidence in his teaching. He says, therefore,
We now understand the object of this distinction, when an acquaintance with visions and dreams was ascribed peculiarly to Daniel. And here our previous assertion is fully confirmed, namely, that Daniel was adorned with the fullest proofs of his mission, to enable him afterwards to undertake the prophetic office with greater confidence, and acquire greater attention to his teaching. God could, indeed, prepare the in a single moment, and by striking terror and reverence into the minds of all, induce them to embrace his teaching; but he wished to raise his servant by degrees, and to bring him forth at the fitting time, and not too suddenly so that all might know by marks impressed for many years how to distinguish him from the common order of men. It afterwards follows: