THE THREE PRESIDENTS.
This division of the kingdom into 120 provinces is exactly in accordance with the assertion of Xenophon, who says that Cyrus appointed satraps over the conquered nations. Usher, in his Annals, thinks that Darius followed the suggestion of Cyrus, who instituted this method of government. This verse is reconciled with the first of Esther, by remembering that after the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses, and of Thrace and India by Darius Hystaspes, seven provinces were added to the number. Junius, according to Willet, states, that after spending a year in settling the affairs of Babylon, he resigned all power to Darius. He approves of Calvin's phrase, "regnare in commune," implying the joint reign of both kings. Josephus is in error in multiplying the number by three. The reason for the appointment of these presidents may be understood variously. The Latin interpreter, says Willet, translates
Daniel 6:7. The Decree by which Daniel was entrapped has occasioned the special cavil of Bertholdt and his adherents. They have treated it as an erroneous fiction, but have been appositely refuted by Hengstenberg. Oriental kings, he reminds us, were often treated as objects of exclusive worship. Heeren has stated "that the kings of the Medes and Persians were regarded and worshipped as representations and incarnations of Ormuzd." 1 In the sacred books of the Zend religion, "Iran, the Medo-Bactrian kingdom under Gustasp, is to him the image of the kingdom of Ormuzd; the king himself the image of Ormuzd; Turan, the northern nomad land, where Afrasiat rules, is the image of the kingdom of darkness, under the rule of Ahriman." The king was the visible manifestation of Ormuzd, like him, commanding, with unlimited power, the seven princes of the empire; next in rank to him were the representatives of the seven Amshaspands, who stood round the throne of Ormuzd. Similar testimony respecting the worship paid to the monarchs of the East, is given by Plutarch, Xenophon, Socrates, and Arrian. Curtius distinctly asserts, that the Persians worshipped their kings among their gods, so that the credibility of Daniel is fully vindicated by the records of profane antiquity. On the royal tombs at Persepolis, there are various sculptures representing the Persian kings as gods, and in De Sacy's Persian inscriptions, they are termed the offspring of gods.
Daniel 6:10. Daniel's Conduct And Prayer, as here recorded, have been questioned by some German critics, on the ground of practices and usages as yet unknown in Upper Asia. The custom of praying towards Jerusalem, it is said, did not arise among the Jews living abroad, till after the rebuilding of the temple. But it must not be forgotten that it prevailed among the Jews from early times. David prayed towards the sanctuary, and raised his hands towards it. The Dedication prayer of Solomon contains a distinct injunction to the same effect. The very place, says Stolberg, where the temple had stood and was again to stand, was holy to Daniel. 2 The hours, at which the Prophet offered up his prayer are said to belong to the fine-spun religiousness of the later Jews. But this assertion is made in forgetfulness of the ancient custom of all nations to have fixed and invariable periods for the worship of their deities. Willet approves of Calvin's comments on this passage, and Oecolampadius considers it a thanksgiving for the encouraging beginning, happy success, and prosperous end of our undertakings. Willet also discusses the propriety of Daniel's exposing himself thus openly to the malice of his enemies, after he knew of the king's decree. He agrees on the whole with the practical comment of Calvin, and adduces it as an example of perseverance in the line of duty, in full confidence of the protecting power of God, and in defiance of all the malice of the most inveterate foes.
Daniel 6:10. The Open Windows Towards Jerusalem. -- Various writers have supposed this action of the Prophet's to be the result of ostentation. Calvin has treated this point ably, and Wetstein, in his Notes on Acts 1:13, has explained the nature of "the upper chamber" in the Jewish houses, and their use either as oratories or for other solemn or festive purposes. Shaw, in his Travels, alludes to their structure and use. The light was usually admitted into these upper rooms through large windows, and the Jews naturally turned towards Jerusalem in prayer, with earnest longing for speedy deliverance. The "three times a-day" has been used by Bellarmine 3 as an argument for the canonical hours of the Romish Church, and Pintus goes further to insist on seven, according to Psalm 119. But all these arguments which enforce Christian duties by Jewish practices are erroneous. Calvin's principle is judiciously stated, but it is founded on enlightened and Christian common sense, and not in a blind adherence to Jewish traditions. Similar principles should guide us as to praying towards the east. Oecolampadius refers to the supposed Apostolic tradition of worshipping towards the east, but he reprobates it as superstitious. Nos patriam nostram in cælis habemus, et a Deo originem. Irenaeus 4 ascribes this superstition as a heresy to the Ebionites. Daniel's open profession of his faith in God has been censured as too bold and in judged for our imitation, but it has also been ably vindicated as an example of perseverance in religious duty when our conscience justifies us in maintaining God's truth before men. Willet approves of Calvin's distinction "of Confession, that it is of two sorts, cum palam testamur, quod est in animo, et ne aliquod perversoe simulationis signum demus."
While this sheet is passing through the press, a very illustrative work, confirming the historical accuracy of Daniel, has been published, entitled "Nineveh And Its Palaces: the Discoveries of Botta and Layard applied to the elucidation of Holy Writ; by Joseph Bonomi, F.R.S.L." It contains the latest and best interpretations of the cuneiform inscriptions, and is worthy of attentive perusal.
1 Heeren. Ideen. Augs., 3te, 2 50 p. 474, and Heng., p. 103, et seq.
2 Religionsg., 4 p. 48, ap. Heng., p. 116; also Vitringa de Syn., p. 179. Eisenmenger, i. p. 584, eod. auct.
3 Lib. 1 De bon oper. in partic., c. 12.
4 Adv. Haeres., lib. 1 cap. 26.