Page images

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF DANIEL. out without date; small 4to. There is an Arabic work in the French king's library, No. 410, entitled Odhmet al Mancoul, ân Danial an Nabi, The Traditionary Predictions of Daniel the Prophet;" which is said to contain many falsities, built on the foundation of Daniel's prophecies; but it has never been given to the public, and I have no other notice of it than the above from D'Herbelot. But although all these are curious from their artiquity, yet they are doubtless impostures.

Abul Pharaje, in his history of the dynasties, says, that the seventy weeks of Daniel are to be dated from the twentieth year of wil mij Ardsheer Dirazdest, the Artaxerxes Longimanus of the Greeks, (called Bahaman above,) and the same to whom Nehemiah was

yl sakee, or cup-bearer. Other orientalists are of the same opinion. This shall be con„ sidered more at large when we come to the prophecy itself. Artaxerxes had the name of Longimanus, or Long-handed, from the great extent of his dominions.

Daniel cannot be ranked among the Hebrew poets : his book is all in prose; and it is · written partly in Hebrew, and partly in Chaldee. The Chaldeě, or Syro-Chaldaic part, begins with " pohyb xabay malka sealmin chei, “O king, live for ever!” and continues to the end of the seventh chapter.

In the interpretation of his prophecies I have endeavoured to follow the best critics and chronologists; and, without an extended comment, to give in as short a space as possible the meaning of every place. On the metallic images and seventy weeks. I have been obliged to be more prolix, as these are of too much importance to be slightly handled. It is not my province to enter into the controversy about the date when the seventy weeks commence; even they who disagree so much from each other on this point come so 'near to the general issue that the difference is immaterial.

The chronology of the several events mentioned in this book Calmet endeavours to fix as follows:

A. M.,
3398. Daniel led captive to Babylon, chap. i. 1-7.
3399. Death of Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar.
3401. Jehoiakim revolts against Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Kings xxiv. 1.
3402. Dream of the compound statue, Dan. ii. 1, &c.'.

Daniel and his companions promoted to honour at court.

Birth of Cyrus, son of Cambyses and Mandane. 3405. Jehoiakim is taken and, put to death by the Chaldeans.

Jeconiah is raised to his throne, but reigns only three months and ten days.

Zedekiah, last king of Judah, succeeds; and reigns eleven years. 3416. Taking of Jerusalem, and destruction of the temple, T Chron. xxxvi. 3434. Return of Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon'after his great conquests in Phænicia, Judea, Egypt, &c.

His dream of the great tree, chap. iv. 7, &c.
3435. He becomes insanė, which lasts for seven years, chap. iv. 32, 33.
3442. He becomes sane, and re-ascends the throne.

The golden image set up. The three Hebrews cast into the fiery furnace, chap. ii.
Death of Nebuchadnezzar after a reign of forty-three years, according to Berosus.
Evil-Merodach succeeds him, and reigns two years.—Berosus.

He sets Jeconiah at liberty, Jer. li. 31. 3444. Belshazzar his son succeeds, Dan. vii. 1.

Daniel's vision of the four beasts, representing the four great empires, chap. vi. 3447. Vision of the ram and he-goat, chap. viii.

The death of Belshazzar, chap. v. 3449. Darius the Mede, called Cyarares by Xenophon, and Astyages in the Apocrypha, son of Astyages, king

of the Medes, and maternal great uncle to Belshazzar, succeeds him in the government of Chał

dea, chap. v. 30, 31. See Isa. xii. 1, &c. The visions of Daniel related, chap. ix., X., xi., xii.

Cyrus attacks the Medes in the first or second year of Darius the Mede, chap. x. 1. 3455. Daniel is cast into the den of lions, chap. vi. 3456. Death of Darius. Cyrus succeeds him. 3457. End of the Babylonish captivity declared by Cyrus, in the first year of his reign, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, and Ezra i. 1; but afterward interrupted. See below, 562


INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF DANIEL. A. M. 3485. Termination of Jeremiah's seventy years under Darius Hystaspes, who gives orders to continue the

rebuilding of the temple.
3550. Commencement of the seventy weeks, chap. ix. 24.

Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem, Neh. ii. 1-6.
In this chronology. Calmet differs from Usher.

As a writer, this prophet is simple, yet pure and correct : and he is so conscientious that he relates the very words of those persons whom he introduces as speaking. He writes Hebrew where what he delivers is a bare narrative; but he relates in Chaldee the conversa tions which he had with the wise men and the kings ; and in the same language he relates Nebuchadnezzar's edict, which he made after Daniel had interpreted his dream concerning the great metalline image. This is a proof of his great and conscientious accuracy; and exhibits this prophet in a most advantageous point of view. Daniel writes both Hebrew and Chaldee with great purity,

This book divides itself into two parts. Part I. is historical, and is contained in the six former chapters. Part II. is prophetical, and occupies the other six.





Chronological Notes relative to the commencement of Daniel's prophesying. Year from the Creation, according to Archbishop Usher, 3397.— Year of the Jewish era of the world, 3154.

-Year from the Deluge, 1741.-Second year of the forty-third Olympiad. — Year from the building of Rome, according to the Varronian or generally received account, 147.-Year from the building of Rome, according to Cato and the Fasti Consulares, 146.—Year from the building of Rome, according to Polybius the historian, 145.—Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor, 411.-Year of the Julian Period, 4107.-Year of the era of Nabonassar, 141.-Year from the foundation of Solomon's temple, 397.-Year since the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 114. -Fourth year after the first Sabbatic year after the seventeenth Jewish jubilee, according to Helvicus.Year before the birth of Christ, 603.-Year before the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 607.-Cycle of the Sun, 19.-Cycle of the Moon, 3.-Tenth year of Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of the Romans.Nineteenth year of Cyaxares or Cyaraxes, the fourth king of Media.–Forty-fourth year of Archidamus, king of Lacedæmon, of the family of the Proclidæ.--First year of Leon, king of Lacedæmon, of the family of the Eurysthenidæ.—Thirteenth year of Alyattes II., king of Lydia, and father of the celebrated Cræsus.—Thirty-fourth year of Philip, the sixth king of Macedon.-Eleventh year of Pharaoh-necho, called Necus by Herodotus. This king was the immediate predecessor of Psammis; and Psammis was succeeded by the celebrated Pharaoh-hophra, called also Apries.—Eighth year of Ithobalus, king of the Tyrians, according to Helvicus. --Third year (ending) of Jehoiakim, king of Judah ; for the principal part of A. M. 3397 corresponded to the fourth year of this prince.


This chapter begins with giving a short account of Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Judea, when Jehouakım became tributary to him'; and consequently the seventy years' captivity and vassalage began, 1, 2.

On this expedition (taking Egypt in his way) the king of Babylon set out towards the end of the third year of Jehoiakim, but did not take Jerusalem before the ninth month of the year following. Hence the seeming discrepancy between Daniel and Jeremiah, (chap. xxv. 1,) the one computing from the time of his setting out on the expedition, and the other from the time in which the purpose of it was accomplished. We have next an account of the manner in which Daniel and his companions were brought up at the king's court, 3-7. They reject the daily provision of meat granted by the king, lest they should be defiled, and are allowed to live on pulse, 8–16. Their great proficiency in the wisdom of that time, 17-20. Daniel flourishes till the reign of Cyrus the Persian, 21.) A. M. 3397. B. C. 607.

IN the third year of the reign | 2 And the Lord gave Jehoia- 4. M. cir. 330. Ol. XLIII. 2. of Jehoiakim king of Judah kim king of Judah into his hand, Ol. XLIII. 3. Anno

Tarquinii Prisci, Tarquinii Prisci, came Nebuchadnezzar king of with part of the vessels of the R. Roman, R. Roman.,

Babylon unto Jerusalem, and be- house of God: which he carried cir. annum 11. sieged it.

• into the land of Shinar to the house of his

[ocr errors]



a 2 Kings xxiv. 1 ; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 6.

b Jer. xxvii. 19, 20.

• Gen. x. 10; xi. 2; Isa. xi, 11; Zech. v. 11.


chadnezzar, Jer. xxv. 1, Nebuchadnezzar completely Verse 1. In the third year of the reign of Jehoia- defeated the Egyptian army near the Euphrates, Jer. kim] This king was raised to the throne of Judea in xlvi. 2 ; and this victory put the neighbouring counthe place of his brother Jehoahaz, by Pharaoh-necho, tries of Syria, among which Judea was the chief, under king of Egypt, 2 Kings xxiii. 34-36, and continued the Chaldean government. Thus Jehoiakim, who had tributary to him during the first three years of his first been tributary to Egypt, became now the vassal reign; but in the fourth, which was the first of Nebu- 1 of the king of Babylon, 2 Kings xxiv. 1.

Ol. XLIII. 3.

B. C. cir. 606. 01. XLIII. 3.

History of Daniel and


his three countrymen. 3. M. cir. 838. god; d and he brought the vessels might teach the learning and the A: M. cir. 3398.

into the treasure house of his tongue of the Chaldeans. Tarquinii Prisci,

god. R. Roman,

Tarquini Prisci,

5 And the king appointed them R. Roman., cir. annum 11.

3 And the king spake unto a daily provision of the king's meat, cir. annum 11, Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he and of the wine which he drank : so nourishshould bring certain of the children of Israel, | ing them three years, that at the end thereof and of the king's seed, and of the princes; they might h stand before the king.

4 Children in whom was no blemish, but 6 Now among these were of the children of well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: cunning in knowledge, and understanding 7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs science, and such as had ability in them to gave names: k for he gave unto Daniel the stand in the king's palace, and f whom they name of 'Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of 2 Chron. Xxxvi. 7.- eSee Lev. xxiv. 19, 20.

-Acts vii. 22. b Ver. 19; Gen. xli. 46; 1 Kings X. 8. —i Gen. xli. 45; 2 Kings & Heb. the wine of his drink.

xxiv. 17. Chap. iv, 8; v. 12. At the end of three years Jehoiakim rebelled against had a splendid temple in Babylon, and was the tutelar Nebuchadnezzar, who, then occupied with other wars, god of the city and empire. did not proceed against Jerusalem till three years after, Verse 3. Master of his eunuchs] This word éva which was the eleventh and last of Jehoiakim, 2 Kings nuchs signifies officers about or in the palace, whether xxiii. 36.

literally eunuchs or not. There are some difficulties in the chronology of this Verse 4. Children] 'Dik, yeladim, youths, young place. Calmet takes rather a different view of these men ; and so the word should be rendered throughout transactions. He connects the history thus : Nabo- this book. polassar, king of Babylon, finding that one of his lords Skilful in all wisdom] Rather, persons capable of whom he had made governor of Cælesyria and Phæ- every kind of literary accomplishment, that they might picia had revolted from him, and formed an alliance be put under proper instruction. And as children of with the king of Egypt, sent Neubuchadnezzar his the blood and of the nobles were most likely, from the son, whom he invested with the authority of king, to care usually taken of their initiatory education, to reduce those provinces, as was customary among the profit most by the elaborate instruction here designed, easterns when the heir presumptive was sent on any the master of the eunuchs, the king's chamberlain, important expedition or embassy. This young, prince, was commanded to choose the youths in question out having quelled the insurrection in those parts, marched of such. against Jerusalem about the end of the third or begin- Verse 5. A daily provision) Athenæus, lib. iv., c. ning of the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king 10, says: The kings of Persia, (who succeeded the of Judah. He soon took the city, and put Jehoiakim kings of Babylon, on whose empire they had seized,) in chains with the design of carrying him to Babylon; were accustomed to order the food left at their own but, changing his mind, he permitted him to resume tables to be delivered to their courtiers. the reins of government under certain oppressive con- So nourishing them three years] This was deemed ditions, At this year, which was A. M. 3398, the a sufficient time to acquire the Chaldee language, and seventy years of the Babylonish captivity commence. the sciences peculiar to that people. I suppose they Nabopolassar dying in the interim, Nebuchadnez- båd good introductory books, able teachers, and a prozar was obliged to return speedily to Babylon, leav- per method; else they would have been obliged, like ing his generals to conduct the. Jewish captives us, to send their children seven years to school, and as to Babylon, among whom were Daniel and his com- many to the university, to teach them any tolerable panions.

measure of useful and ornamental literature ! O how Verse 2. Part of the vessels of the house of God] reproachful to the nations of Europe, and particularly He took the richest and finest of them for the service to our own, is this backward mode of instruction. And of his god Bel, and left what were necessary for carry- what is generally learned after this vast expense of ing on the public worship of Jehovah, (for he did not lime and money? A little Latin, Greek, and matheattempt to alter the civil or religious constitution of matics ; perhaps a little moral philosophy; and by this Judea ;) for leaving Jehoiakim on the throne, he only they are entitled, not qualified, to teach others, and laid the land under tribute. The Chaldeans carried especially to teach the people the important science of these sacred vessels away at three different times. 1. salvation! To such shepherds, (and there are many . In the war spoken of in this place. 2. In the taking such,) the hungry sheep look up, and are not fed ; and of Jerusalem and Jeconiah a few months after, 2 Kings if all are not such, no thanks to our plan of national xxiv. 13. 3. Eleven years after, under the reign of education. Zedekiah, when the city and temple were totally de- Verse 6. Now among these] There were no doubt stroyed, and the land ruined, 2 Kings xxv. 8-15. several noble youths from other provinces : but the

The land of Shinar] This was the ancient name four mentioned here were Jews, and are supposed to of Babylon. See Gen. xi. 2.

have all been of royal extraction. The treasure house of his god.) This was Bel, who Verse 7. Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave

[ocr errors]

B. C. cir. 606.

B. C. cir. 606.
Ol, XLIII. 3.


R. Roman, cir. annum 11.

ciř. annum Il.

History of Daniel and


his three countrymen A. M. cir. 3398. Shadrach; and to Mishael, of 12 Prove thy servants, I beseech 4. M. cir. 3398.

Meshach; and to Azariah, of thee, ten days; and let them give 01. XLIII. 3. . Tarquinii Prisci,

Tarquinii Prisci, R. Roman., Abed-nego.

pulse s to eat, and water to 8 But Daniel purposed in his drink. heart that he would not defile himself with 13 Then let our countenances be looked upon the portion of the king's meat, nor with the before thee, and the countenance of the chilwine which he drank : therefore he requested dren that eat of the portion of the king's meat: of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. defile himself..

14. So he consented to them in this matter, 9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and proved them ten days. and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. 15 And at the end of ten days their coun

10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto tenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh Daniel, I fear my lord the king who hath than all the children which did eat the portion appointed your meat and your drink: for why of the king's meat. should he see your faces 1 worse liking than 16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of the children which are of your sort ? then their meat, and the wine that they should drink; shall ye make me endanger my head to the and gave them pulse. king.

17 As for these four children, God gave them 11 Then said Daniel to P Melzar, whom the u knowledge and skill in all learning and wisprince of the 9 eunuchs had set over Daniel, dom; and Daniel had wunderstanding in all Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,

visions and dreams.

1 Deut. xxxii. 38; Ezek. iv. 13; Hos. ix. 3.—-m See. Gen. - Heb. of pulse. - Heb. that we may eat, &c. 1 Kings iii. *xxix. 21; Psa. cvi. 46; Prov. xvi. 7. n Heb. sadder.o Or, 12; James i. 5, 17.-u Acts vii. 22.- Or, he made Daniel unterm, or continuance. -POr, the steward. -9 2 Kings ix. 32 ; XX. derstand, -*Num. xii. 6; 2 Chron. xxvi. 5; chap. v. 11, 12, 18; Isa. xxxix. 7; Acts viii. 27.

14; x. 1.

names] This change of names, Calmet properly re- have spoken of this resolution in the introduction. The marks, was a mark of dominion and authority. It was chief reasons why Daniel would not eat meat from the customary for masters to impose new names upon royal table were probably these three :- 1. Because their slaves; and rulers often, on their ascending the they ate unclean beasts, which were forbidden by the throne, assumed a name different from that which they Jewish law. 2. Because they ate, as did the heathens had before.

in general, beasts which had been strangled, or noo 58:37. Daniel signifies “God is my Judge.” This properly blooded. 3. Because the animals that were. name they changed into 7380052 BELTESHATSTSAR; eaten were first offered as victims to their gods. It is in Chaldee, “ The treasure of Bel,” or “ The deposi- on this account that Athenæus calls the beasts which tory of the secrets (or treasure) of Bel.”

were served up at the tables of the Persian kings, 77'337 HANANIAH signifies, “ The Lord has been ispia, victims, lib. iv. c. 10, p. 145. gracious to me;" or “ He to whom the Lord is gra- Verse 11. Then said Daniel to Melzar] Melzar cious.” This name was changed into 7770 SHAD- was an officer under Ashpenaz, whose office it was to RACH, Chaldee, which has been variously translated : attend to the food, clothing, &c., of these royal cap“ The inspiration of the sun ;” “God, the author of tives. Others think 73729 meltsar, master of the inn evil, be propitious to us;" “ Let God preserve us from or hotel, the name of an office. evil.",

Verse 12. Give us pulse to eat] b'ynin hazzeraim, Seven Mishael signifies, " He who comes from seeds or grain, such as barley, wheat, rye, and peas, God.” Him they called 70 Meshack, which in &c. Though a vegetable diet might have produced Chaldee signifies, "He who belongs to the goddess that healthiness of the system in general, and of the Sheshach," a celebrated deity of the Babylonians, men- countenance particularly, as mentioned here ; yet we tioned by Jeremiah, chap. xxv. 26.

are to understand that there was an especial blessing og'riy Azariah, which signifies “The Lord is my of God in this, because this spare diet was taken on a Helper," they changed into 113 738 ABED-NEGO, which religious account. in Chaldee is “the servant of Nego,” who was one of Verse 17. As for these four children] Young men their divinities ; by which they meant either the sun, or or youths. Our translation gives a false idea. the morning star; whether Jupiter or Venus.

In all visions and dreams.) That is, such as are The vicious pronunciation of this name should be Divine ; for as to dreams in general, they have as carefully avoided ; 'I mean that which lays the accent much signification as they have connexion, being the on the first syllable, and hurries to the end, without effects of the state of the body, of the mind, or of the attending to the natural division of the word Abed circumstances of the dreamer. A dream may be conNego:

sidered supernatural, if it have nothing preposterous, Verse-8. But Danielwould not defile himself] I nothing monstrous, and nothing irregular. If the whole

« PreviousContinue »