« ZurückWeiter »
P REF A CE.
A VERY remarkable resemblance has always been observed between the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation. Whatever view may be taken of the proper interpretation of these books, it is difficult to write a commentary on one of them without carefully studying the other, and without practically furnishing to a considerable extent an exposition of the other. There is no evidence, indeed, that John, in the Book of Revelation, intended to imitate Daniel, and yet there is so strong a resemblance in the manner in which the Divine disclosures respecting the future were made to the two writers; there is so clear a reference to the same great events in the history of the world; there is so much similarity in the symbols employed, that no commentator can well write on the one without discussing many points, and making use of many illustrations, which would be equally appropriate in an exposition of the other.
The following Notes on the Book of Daniel were mostly written before I commenced the preparation of Notes on the Book of Revelation, though the latter volume is published first. It has thus happened that many inquiries have been
started, and many subjects discussed, in connection with this book, which would otherwise have found a place in the Notes on the Book of Revelation, and that in the exposition of the latter, I have, in many places, to avoid needless repetition, done little more than refer to corresponding places in the Notes on Daniel. While I have endeavoured to make each work a complete exposition in itself, it is nevertheless true that the two volumes are designed, in some measure, to go together, and that the one is necessary to the full understanding of the other.
PHILADELPHIA, Deco 26th, 1851.
THE BOOK OF DANIEL.
1. THE LIFE OF DANIEL,
Or Daniel little more is known, or can now be ascertained, than is recorded in this book. There are two other persons of this name mentioned in the Bible-a son of David, 1 Chron. iii. 1; and a Levite of the race of Ithamar, Ezra viii. 2; Neh. X. 6. The latter has been sometimes confounded with the prophet, as he is in the Apocryphal Addenda to the Septuagint.
Daniel, supposed commonly to be the same person as the author of this book, is twice mentioned by Ezekiel, once as deserving to be ranked with Noah and Job, and once as eminent for wisdom. Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.” Ezek. xiv. 14.
Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel, and there is no secret that they can hide from thee." Ezek. xxviii. 3. Whether this is the Daniel who is the author of this book, however, or whether this was some ancient patriarch whose name had been handed down by tradition, and whose name was assumed by the author of this book in later times, has been a question among recent critics, and will properly come up for examination under the next section in this Introduction.
Assuming now that the book is genuine, and that it was written by him whose name it bears, all that is known of Daniel is substantially as follows:
He was descended from one of the highest families in Judah, if not one of royal blood (Notes on ch. i. 3 ; Josephus' Ant. b. x. ch. x. % 1.). His birth-place was probably Jerusalem, (comp. ch. ix. 24,) though it is not absolutely certain that this passage would demonstrate this.
Of his first years nothing is recorded. At an early age we find him in Babylon, among the captive Hebrews whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away at the first deportation of the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. He is mentioned in connection with three other youths, apparently of the same rank, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who, with him, were selected for the purpose of being instructed in the language and literature of the Chaldeans, with a view to their being employed in the service of the court. Dan. i. 3, 4. His age at that time it is impossible to determine with accuracy, but it is not improbable that it was somewhere about twelve or fifteen years. In ch. i. 4, he and his three friends are called 66 children," (017). “This word properly denotes the period from the age of childhood up to manhood, and might be translated boys, lads, or youth.?'--Professor Stuart on Daniel, p. 373. Ignatius (Ep. ad Magn.), says that Daniel was twelve years of age when he went into exile ; Chrysostome says that he was eighteen, (Opp. vi. p. 423 ;) Epiphanius says, ért vímtos öv, Jerome calls him admodum puer. These are, of course, mere conjectures, or traditions, but they are probably not far from the truth. Such was the age at which persons would be most likely to be selected for the training here referred to. The design of this selection and training is not mentioned, but in the circumstances of the case it is perhaps not difficult to conjecture it. The Hebrews were a captive people. It was natural to suppose that they would be restless, and perhaps insubordinate, in their condition, and it was a matter of policy to do all that could be done to conciliate them. Nothing would better tend to this than to select some of their own number who were of their most distinguished families; to place them at court; to provide for them from the royal bounty; to give them the advantages of the best education that the capital afforded; to make an arrangement that contemplated their future employment in the service of the state, and to furnish them every opportunity of promotion. Besides, in the intercourse of the government with the captive Hebrews, of which, from the nature of the case, there would be frequent occasion, it would be an advantage to have native born Hebrews in the confidence of the government, who could be employed to conduct that intercourse.
In this situation, and with this view, Daniel received that thorough education which Oriental etiquette makes indispensable in a courtier, (Comp. Plato, Alcib. & 37,) and was more especially instructed in the science of the Chaldeans, and in speaking and writing their language. He had before evidently been carefully trained in the Hebrew learning, and in the knowledge of the institutions of his country, and was thoroughly imbued with the principles of the religion of his fathers. An opportunity soon occurred of putting his principles to the test. Trained in strict religious principles, and in the sternest rules of temperance in eating and drinking, and fearing the effect of the luxurious living provided for him and his companions by the royal bounty, he resolved, with them, to avoid at once the danger of conforming to the habits of idolaters; of “polluting” himself by customs forbidden by his religion, and of jeoparding his own health and life by intemperate indulgence. He aimed, also, to secure the utmost vigor of body, and the utmost clearness of mind, by a course of strict and conscientious temper
He obtained permission, therefore, to abstain from the food provided for him, and to make an experiment of the most temperate mode of living, ch. i. 8–14. “ His prudent proceedings, wise bearing, and absolute refusal to comply with such customs, were crowned with the divine blessing, and had the most splendid results.”
After the lapse of three years spent in this course of discipline, Daniel
passed the examination which was necessary to admit him to the royal favor, and was received into connection with the government, to be employed in the purposes which had been contemplated in this preparatory training, ch. i. 18—20. One of his first acts was an interpretation of a dream of Nebuchadnezzar which none of the Chaldeans had been able to interpret, the result of which was that he was raised at once to that important office, the governorship of the province of Babylon, and the headinspectorship of the sacerdotal caste, ch. ii.
Considerably later in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, we find Daniel interpreting another dream of his, to the effect that, in consequence of his pride, he would be deprived for a time of his reason and his throne, and would be suffered to wander from the abodes of men, and to live among wild beasts, but that after a time he would be again. restored. The record which we have of this, is found in a proclamation of the king himself, which is preserved by Daniel, ch. iv. In the interpretation of this remarkable dream, and in stating to the king--the most proud and absolute monarch of the earth at that time what would come upon him, Daniel displays the most touching anxiety, love, and loyalty, for the prince, and shows that he was led to this interpretation only by the conviction of the truth. In view of a calamity so great, he exhorted the monarch yet to humble himself and to repent of his sins, and to perform acts of charity, with the hope that God might be mer. ciful and avert from him a doom so humiliating-so much to be dreaded, ch. iv. 19–27.
Under the immediate successor of Nebudchadnezzar-Evil-Merodach Daniel appears to have been forgotten, and his talents and his former services seem to have passed away from the recollection of those in power.
His situation at court appears to have been confined to an inferior office (ch. viii. 27), and it would seem also that this led him occasionally, if not regularly, away from Babylon to some of the provinces to attend to business there. Comp. Notes in ch. viii. 2. This was not strange. On the death of a monarch, it was not unusual to discharge the officers who had been employed in the government, as, at the present time, on the death of a king, or a change of dynasty, the members of the cabinet are changed; or as the same thing happens in our own country when a change occurs in the Chief Magistracy of the nation. * Sir John Chardin in his MS. Notes on Persia says that, in his time, on the death of a Shah or king, all the soothsayers and physicians attached to the court were at once dismissed from office; the former because they did not predict his death, and the latter because they did not prevent it. It is to be remembered also, that Daniel was raised to power by the will of Nebuchadnezzar alone, and that the offices which he held were, in part, in consequence of the service which he had rendered that prince; and it is not strange, therefore, that on a change of the government, he, with perhaps the other favorites of the former sovereign, should be suffered to retire. We find consequently no mention made of, Daniel during the reign of Evil-Merodach or in the short
* Since this was written, a remarkable illustration of what is here said has occurred in our own country, on the death of the late President, Gen. Zachary Taylor. It will be recollected that on the very night of his death, all the members of the cabinet tendered their resignation to his constitutional successor, and all of them in fact ceased to hold office and retired to pri