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The Book of the Prophet
DANIEL was of the seed royal of the kings of Judah, and eve
ry way eminent as a learned man, a stalesman, a saint, and a hrophet. The Jews indeed will not allow him to be a prophet; and, in their bible, his book is not put among the prophets, because he did not live a mortified life, and profihesied in a strange land ; but Christ calls him a 'prophet,' and the angel Gabriel, 'a man greatly beloved.' The true reason of their denying him to be a prophet was, because he so clearly foretold the sufferings of the Messiah, and the time when they should happen. Part of this book, which partic. ularly relates to the affairs of the Babylonians, (from chap. ii. 4, to the end of chap. vii.) is written in their own language, the Chalda. ic, and all the rest in Hebrew. He lived in great favour with the Babylonian monarchs ; and his extraordinary merit procured him the like regard from Darius and Cyrus, the two first kings of Per. sia : he was indeed the only prophet who enjoyed any great share of worldly prosperity. He lived throughout the captivity, but does not seem to have ever returned to his own country. The last of his visions which we have an account of, was in the third year of Cyrus, (ebout five hundred and thirty four years before Christ) when he was about ninety four years of age ; and it is not likely that he lived much longer ; he was then at Susa on the river Tygris, where he probably remained till he died,
An account of Jehoiakim's captivity ; of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael,
and Azariah, refusing the king's portion, prospering with pulse and water.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of JuI dah, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusa2 lem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king house of his god, to acknowledge him as the author of his suc
of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god Bel; and he brought the vessels into the treasure • From this time the seventy years' captivity commenced; after this Jehoiakim humbled himself, became tributary, and was restored to his thro
ces8 ; but which the sacred historian ascribes to Jehovah.* 3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eu. nuchs, that he should bring [certain) of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes ; and so the threatening to Hezekiah was fulfilled, viz. that his seed should be taken away, and be eunuchs or officers in the palace of the king of Babe ylon; (see Isaiah xxxix. 7.) Children, that is, young men, in whom (was] no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, who had the best accomplishments of body and mind, good geniuses, and well educated, and such as (had) ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans ; namely, the language of the country, and astronomy, architecture, politics,
and war ; but there was no command to teach them religion. 5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's
meat, and of the wine which he drank ; he ordered them a lable among the king's household ; so nourishing them three
years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the 6 king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Dana 7 iel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Unto whom the prince
of the eunuchs gave names : for he gave unto Daniel (the name] of Belteshazzar ; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach ; and to Azariah, of Abednego; their own names had some relation to the God of Isreal, but the names
which he gave them have a reference to the Chaldean idolatry. & But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile
himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the
wine which he drank :f therefore he requested of the prince 9 of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God ! had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the 10 prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eu
nuchs said unto Daniel, I fear' my lord the king, who hath appointed you your meat and your drink : for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which (are) of your sort, or age ? then shall ye make (me)
endanger my head to the king. Such is the misery of an arIl bitrary government. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the
prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mish12 ael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten
days ; and let them give us pulse to eat, that is, a vegetable 13 dies, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the childreri
t It was a custom to offer some part of the beasts which they killed for food in sacri. fice to their gods, and to pour out some of their wine as a libation to them. Or, they used Such food, or it was dressed in such a manner, as was forbidden by the law of Moses ; on these accounts Daniel could not partake of these provisions without being defiled.
that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and aš thou seest, 14 deal with thy servants. So he consented to theth in this mato 15 ter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days
their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all 16 the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat. Thus
Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that
they should drink ; and gave them pulse. 17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and
skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understand18 ing in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days
that the king had said he should bring them in, then the
prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnez19 zar. And the king communed with them; and among them I all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Aza
riah : therefore stood they before the king, that is, they con30 tinually attended at tourt. And in all matters of wisdom (and)
understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that
[were in all his realm ; that is, than the students in natural 21 philosophy.* And Daniel continued [even) unto the first year
of king Cyrus : he continued in honour and favour with the kings that succeeded Nebuchadnezzar to the end of the seventy years, 80 that he lived to be above ninety years old.
1. TT is of great service to a community to give young pers
1 sons a good education : and it showed the wisdom and · policy of this state to train up promising youths for public offices
and stations. This was the practice of the most celebrated ancient states ; and it is still of equal importance to the public. Some who would otherwise be useless, yea, injurious to society, may hereby be made great blessings to it. It will be wise in parents to give their children as large and liberal an education as their circumstances will admit of : and it is an excellent charity, and a real public benefit, to contri. bute to the support of charity schools and other seminaries, by which children and youth may be formed to knowledge, piety, and usefulness.
2. It becomes young people to imitate the amiable examples of temperance, prudence, and steady regard to religion, which we here read of. These young persons showed great piety, self denial, and resolution : they did not think, that because they were of the blood royal, they might therefore indulge their appe
• Such were the wise men that came to Christ. The astrologers viewed the heavens and made observations on the stars ; in these sciences no unlawful arts were used, else Dapic) and his companions would not have studied them.
tites without control ; but chose pulse and water, rather than be led into sin. Let young people learn from them to be sober and temperate in all things. And this instance proves that temperance and abstemiousness are favourable both to health and virtue, by keeping the faculties clear and strong, and in fitting men for great service, and great sufferings too, when called to them, as these young gentlemen were. Especially let them learn to be afraid of sin ; resolutely to deny themselves any gratification, by which the soul may be polluted ; and rather choose to hazard the favour of men, than defile their consciences by sinning against God.
3. We are here taught that learning and honour come from God. Though no doubt their tutors took great pains with these noble youths, and they were hard students, yet it is said, God gave them knowledge ; and though they behaved prudently, inoffensively, and modestly, yet that God brought them into favour and love. Intellectual abilities, useful knowledge, and relig. ous attainments, all come from the Father of Lights; which shows how fit it is that parents should pray for their children, that God would teach them, as well as instruct them themselves ; and that those who lack wisdom, should ask it of God. Esteem and reputation come from him. All hearts are in his hands ; and it depends on the turn he gives to men's minds, whether we shall be esteemed or despised in the world ; without his favour, all the interest we can make for our. selves will be in vain. Let us then be steadily religious and pru. dent, 80 shall we find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
CHAP. II. 1-30.
Nebuchadnezzar forgetting his dream, Daniel findeth it ; and relatea
both the dream, and the interpretation of il. 1 AND in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnez
I zar,* Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him ; the
strangeness of the dreams left a strong impression upon him, 2 though he had forgotten the particulars. Then the king com.
manded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans,t for to show the king his
• He is spoken of in the former chapter as reigning when Danlel was taken captive, who was instructed three years before he came in to the king ; this must tberefore refer to the second year of his reigning alone : having reigned some years with his father, 19 the heathen historians tell us ; this being the manner of reckoning ajaong the Chaldeans.
† The word sorcerers is sometimes used in an ill sense for those who practised wick. ed arts. The Chaldeans was a general name for this kind of learned men; as astronomy, and astrology were much studied among them; and is used as such both by the Grock 2018 Latin writers.
3 dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the
king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit 4. was troubled to know the dream, Then spake the Chaldeans
to the king in Syriack,* ( king, live for ever : tell thy ser
vants the dream, and we will show the interpretation. 5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is
gone from me; I have forgotten the particulars, but the ime pression of the dream remains : if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be
cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill, so as 6 to leave no remains of them or of your memory. But if ye
show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall re,
ceive of me gifts and rewards and great honour : therefore 7 show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. They
answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the 8 dream, and we will show the interpretation of it. The king
answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me ; he perceiv. ed that they wished 10 put him off for the present, and to trifle with him till his curiosity was allayed, and the traces of his dream lost ; 80 that they might tell him any thing, and he would not be certain whether it was his dream or not. But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, (there is but) one decree for you ; no change to be made in my purpose : for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed ; till something happen to prevent the execu. tion of my purpose : therefore tell me the dream, and I shall
know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof. 10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There
is not a man upon the earth that can show the king's mat. ter : therefore (there is) no king, lord, nor ruler, [that] asked
such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. Il And [it is) a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is
none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh; none but beings superior to
men ; or, as some render it, 'except that God,' supposing them 12 to refer to the true God. For this cause the king was angry
and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise (men) 13 of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise (men)
should be slain ; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to
be slain.t 14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch
the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay
• The Chaldean and Syriack are different names for the same langaage; that language is used in this book as far as relates to the affairs of Babylon, that is, to the end of chap. vii.
+ It is strange that he did not first apply to them, as he hard before found them ten times viser thin his magicians and astrologers ; but perhaps he thoughr them too young to be consulted on this great occasion, or was prejudiced against their nation and religion ; ar Providence might so order it, to make Daniel's discovery of the dream more remarkable.