4. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel.
4. Die vicessima quarta mensis primi, ego fui super ripam fluvii magni, nempe Hidekel.1
Daniel now narrates the acceptance of his prayers, because all angel appeared and instructed him in the future condition of the Church. Without the slightest doubt, the fasting already described was a preparation for prayer, as we have stated before, and as we may gather from many passages of Scripture, especially from the assertion of Christ, where he says, the demon could not be cast out except by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21.) Daniel, therefore, did not abstain from all food, and wine, and luxuries, with the view of rendering any obedience to God, but of testifying his own grief: then he was anxious to rouse himself to prayer, and by that mark of humility, to prepare far better for repentance. He says now -- on the twenty-fourth day of the first month -- meaning March, the first month of the Jewish year -- he stood on the bank of the great river, namely, the Tigris. The word dy, yid, is metaphorically used for the bank, and interpreters are agreed in identifying Hiddekel with the Tigris. Geographers state the name of this river to be in some places, and especially near its fountain, Digliton, which answers to the common Hebrew name Hidekel. Without doubt, this river is called Phison by Moses, since the Tigris has three names among profane nations. Its usual name is Tigris, and in one part of its course it becomes the Hidekel, and has also the names of Pasitigris and Phasis, which is equivalent to Phison. The Prophet relates, his standing on the bank of this great river. It is uncertain whether he was then in that part of the world, or whether God set before him the prospect of the river, as we have seen elsewhere. I rather incline to the opinion of his being rapt in the prophetic spirit, and obtaining vision of the river, and not to his being really there. Possibly, that province might have been placed under his government in the course of the great changes which took place in those times. While Belshazzar lived, he could not have been at Susan, and so we were compelled to explain his former language by the prophetic rapture. And as to the present passage, I shall not quarrel with the opinion of any one who supposes Daniel to have dwelt in that district, but, as I have stated before, I think it most probable, that this spectacle was offered to the holy Prophet when far distant from the river's bank, and only able to behold it in commenced his abstinence from flesh, and food, and all pleasant viands, and then relaxed his fast for three weeks, as he here marks the date on the twenty-fourth day. But I leave this doubtful, through the impossibility of ascertaining the point with certainty. Let us now proceed, --