Daniel 5:30-31

30. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.

30. In ilia nocte occisus fiut Beltsazar rex Chaldaeorum.

31. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

31. Et Darius Medus accepit reg num, cum natus esset annos sexaginta et duos.


Here Daniel shortly relates how his prophecy was fulfilled that very night. As we have before explained it, a customary feast-day had occurred which the Babylonians celebrated annually, and on this occasion the city was betrayed by two satraps, whom Xenophon calls Gobryas and Gadatas. On this passage the Rabbis display both their impudence and ignorance; as, according to their usual habit, they babble with audacity about what they do not understand. They say the king was stabbed, because one of his guards heard the Prophet's voice, and wished to execute that heavenly judgment; as if the sentence of God depended upon the will of a single heathen! We must pass by these puerile trifles and cling to the truth of history; for Belshazzar was seized in his own banqueting-room, when he was grossly intoxicated, with his nobles and concubines. Meanwhile, we must observe God's wonderful kindness towards the Prophet. He was not in the slightest danger, as the rest were. He was clad in purple, and scarcely an hour had passed when the Medes and Persians entered the city. He could scarcely have escaped in the tumult, unless God had covered him with the shadow of his hand. We see, then, how God takes care of his own, and snatches us from the greatest dangers, as if he were bringing us from the tomb. There is no doubt that the holy Prophet was much agitated amidst the tumult, for he was not without sensibility. 1 But he ought to be thus exercised to cause him to acknowledge God as the faithful guardian of his life, and to apply himself more diligently to his worship, since he saw nothing preferable to casting all his cares upon him!

Daniel adds, the kingdom was transferred to the king of the Medes, whom he calls Darius, but Xenophon terms him Cyaxares. It is clear enough that Babylon was taken by the skill and under the auspices of Cyrus; since he was a persevering warrior possessed of great authority, though he is not mentioned here. But since Xenophon relates that Cyaxares, here called Darius, was Cyrus's father-in-law, and thus held in the highest honor and estimation, it is not surprising to find Daniel bringing that king before us. Cyrus was content with his own power and with the praise and fame of his victory, and readily conceded this title to his father-in-law, whom he perceived to be now growing aged and infirm. It is uncertain whether he was the son of Astyages, and thus the uncle of Cyrus. Many historians concur in stating that Astyages was the grandfather of Cyrus who married his daughter to Cambyses; because the astrologers had informed him how an offspring should be born of her who should possess the sovereignty over all Asia! Many add the story of his ordering the infant Cyrus to be slain, but since these matters are uncertain, I leave them undecided. I rather think Darius was the uncle of Cyrus, and also his father-in-law; though, if we believe Xenophon, he was unmarried at the capture of Babylon; for his uncle, and perhaps his father-in-law, had sent him to bring supplies when he was inferior in numbers to the Babylonians and Assyrians. However this may be, the Prophet's narrative suits the circumstances well enough, for Darius, as king of the Medes, obtained the royal authority. Cyrus was, indeed, higher than he in both rank and majesty, but he granted him the title of King of Babylon, and under this name he reigned over the Chaldeans. It now follows, --

1 The Latin is "stipes:" the French, "une souche de bols;" literally, a log or block of wood. -- Ed.