And it is a rare thing that the king requires, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)rare thing—i.e., a difficult matter. The difficulty is so great, that the gods whose dwelling is not with flesh are alone able to solve it. Here the reference is to a doctrine of Babylonian theology, according to which every man from his birth onward had a special deity attached to him as his protector. It lived in him, or “dwelt with flesh,” as the wise men here remark. The deity, being united to the man, became a partaker of human infirmities. For instance, it was subject to the action of evil spirits, and to the influence of the spirits of sickness to such an extent that it might injure the person whom it was bound to protect. Even these deities, the wise men urge, cannot do what the king requires. Such wisdom belongs only to the gods whose dwelling is apart from man. (See Lenormant, La Magie, pp. 181-183.)
And there is none other that can show it before the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh - This was clearly true, that a matter of that kind could not be disclosed except by Divine assistance. It would seem from this that these persons did not claim to be inspired, or to have communication with the gods; or, at least, that they did not claim to be inspired by the Supreme God, but that they relied on their own natural sagacity, and their careful and long study of the meaning of those occurrences which prefigured future events, and perhaps on the mystic arts derived from their acquaintance with science as then understood. The word "gods" here - אלהין 'ĕlâhı̂yn, the same as the Hebrew אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym - is in the plural number, but might be applied to the true God, as the Hebrew אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym often is. It is by no means certain that they meant to use this in the plural, or to say that it was an admitted truth that the gods worshipped in Babylon did not dwell with people.
It was, undoubtedly, the common opinion that they did; that the temples were their abode; and that they frequently appeared among men, and took part in human affairs. But it was a very early opinion that the Supreme God was withdrawn from human affairs, and had committed the government of the world to intermediate beings - internuncii - demons, or aeons: beings of power far superior to that of men, who constantly mingled in human affairs. Their power, however, though great, was limited; and may not the Chaldeans here by the word אלהין 'ĕlâhı̂yn - have meant to refer to the Supreme God, and to say that this was a case which pertained to him alone; that no inferior divinity could be competent to do such a thing as he demanded; and that as the Supreme God did not dwell among men it was hopeless to attempt to explain the matter? Thus understood, the result will convey a higher truth, and will show more impressively the honor put on Daniel. The phrase, "whose dwelling is not with flesh," means "with men - in human bodies."
On the supposition that this refers to the Supreme God, this undoubtedty accords with the prevailing sentiment of those times, that however often the inferior divinities might appear to men, and assume human forms, yet the Supreme God was far removed, and never thus took up his abode on the earth. They could hope, therefore, for no communication from Him who alone would be competent to the solution, of such a secret as this. This may be regarded, therefore, as a frank confession of their entire failure in the matter under consideration. They acknowledged that "they" themselves were not competent to the solution of the question, and they expressed the opinion that the ability to do it could not be obtained from the help which the inferior gods rendered to men, and that it was hopeless to expect the Supreme God - far withdrawn from human affairs - to interpose. It was a public acknowledgment that their art failed on a most important trial, and thus the way was prepared to show that Daniel, under the teaching of the true God, was able to accomplish what was wholly beyond all human power.
The trial had been fairly made. The wisest men of the Chaldean realm had been applied to. They on whom reliance had been placed in such emergencies; they who professed to be able to explain the prognostics of future events; they who had been assembled at the most important and magnificent court of the world - the very center of Pagan power; they who had devoted their lives to investigations of this nature, and who might be supposed to be competent to such a work, if any on earth could, now openly acknowledged that their art failed them, and expressed the conviction that there was no resource in the case.
1. There is not a man upon earth can show the king’s matter.
2. There is no king requires such a thing of any magician.
3. None but the gods can do this. The Chaldeans with other Gentiles did believe more gods than one and the supreme deity or deities did not meddle with the affairs of men, but had the cognizance by inferior or intermediate demons. So Plato and many of them held. The meaning then is this, Seeing there are some things that God, who knoweth all things, will not communicate the knowledge of to men, and hath not done it to us, it is therefore a singular and unreasonable thing the king should require it of us, and that so suddenly, and upon such penalties.
and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh; these men own there was a God, though, they held, more than one; and the omniscience of God, though they seem to have no notion of his omnipresence; and to suggest as if he had no concern with mortals; had no regard to men on earth, nor communicated the knowledge of things unto them. Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Saadiah, interpret this of angels, who are incorporeal; but the superior deities of the Gentiles are rather designed; who were supposed to dwell in heaven, and to have no conversation with men on earth; these, it is owned, could declare to the king what he desired, and no other; and therefore should not persist in his demand on them.And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. rare] difficult: properly heavy. The word has the same sense sometimes in Syriac, as Exodus 18:18, in the Peshiṭtâ.
requireth] asketh (as Daniel 2:10), which indeed is all that the translators of 1611 meant by their rendering: for require formerly did not express the idea now attaching to the word of demanding as a right. So elsewhere in A.V., as 2 Samuel 12:20; Proverbs 30:7 (R.V. asked); Ezra 8:22 (R.V. ask); and in P.B.V. of the Psalms, as Psalm 27:4; Psalm 38:16; Psalm 40:9; Psalm 51:6; Psalm 137:3.
whose dwelling is not with flesh] i.e. who are superhuman, supra-mundane beings.Verse 11. - And it is a rare thing that the king requireth. The Septuagint Version of this passage is, "The thing which thou requirest, O king, is hard and strange." The last two winds are most likely a case of doublet - two different renderings of the same Aramaic wind, yakkirah. The primary meaning of this word is "heavy," and by transference it becomes "difficult," and then, "strange" or "rare." There may have been a slight difference of reading to account for the sentence taking the vocative term it does. It may be due to reading הדר instead of אחר in the following clause. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic text. and translates yakkirah, βαρύς. The Peshitta does not differ here from the Massoretic text. The soothsayers still pursue their line of defence, which they had adopted in the preceding verse. The king cannot get the answer he demands - his demand is so difficult and strange. And there is none ether that can show it before the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. The Septuagint rendering (lifters somewhat, though slightly, from the Massoretic text: "And there is no one who will show these things to the king, unless some (τις) angel, whose dwelling is not at all with flesh." The omission of ahoran, "other," gives some slight confirmation of the suggestion that ἐπίδοξος, "strange" or "peculiar," represents it. It is very characteristic of the time when the Septuagint translation was made, and of the opinions then current, that the, word אלחין (elohin), "gods," should be rendered ἄγγελος, "angels" By this time there was an avoidance of the use of the Divine name, and anything that suggested it; further, there was an avoidance of the names of heathen deities. The same feeling that makes the historian of the Book of Samuel represent (1 Samuel 29:6) Achish swearing by Jehovah rather than by his own gods, as would certainly be the case, makes the translator here represent the soothsayers referring to "angels." The idea of angels of the nations, which we find later in this book, was generally adopted by the Jews in Egypt (as e.g. Deuteronomy 32:8, LXX.). A question has been raised here as to whether the statement, "whose dwelling is not with flesh," is to be regarded as distinguishing all gods from human beings, or as distinguishing certain of the higher gods from the others. The first view is that of Hitzig, Kranichfeld, Bevan, and others; Professor Fuller and Von Lengerke and others maintain the latter opinion. There is one thing certain - that the soothsayers and interpreters of dreams and auguries believed, or, at all events, pretended they believed, themselves each under the guidance of a special genius or subordinate god. Such a god had his dwelling with flesh - that is to say, with humanity; but there were in their pantheon higher gods, whose dwelling was not with flesh. In some of the incantations and magical formulas which Lenormant has collected in his 'La Magie,' we find (p. 21) Selek-Moulou-ki coming to Ea his father for information as to the causes of disease, etc. Marduk is the Babylonian name for Selek-Moulou-ki, and Marduk was the great revealer; but by this his dwelling was with flesh. As we see, however, there were gods whose dwelling was not with flesh, who knew secrets hid even from Marduk. This excuse of the wise men is a preparation for Daniel's claim to raveal the secret of the king by the power of a higher God than any that communicated with the Babylonian soothsayers. Hitzig regards this as an artistic device of the author. We regard it as the providential intervention of God himself, that raise heathen soothsayers should shelter themselves under an excuse that forced into clearer light the supremacy of Jehovah. It indicates a special knowledge of Babylonian worship thus to lay stress on this distinction between higher and lower gods.
Ezekiel 45:18. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In the first (month), on the first of the month, thou shalt take a bullock, a young ox without blemish, and absolve the sanctuary. Ezekiel 45:19. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin-offering, and put it upon the door-posts of the house, and upon the four corners of the enclosure of the altar, and upon the door-posts at the gate of the inner court. Ezekiel 45:20. And so shalt thou do on the seventh of the month, for the sake of erring men and of folly, that so ye may make atonement for the house. - The Mosaic law had prescribed for the new moons generally the sin-offering of a he-goat, in addition to the burnt-offerings and meat-offerings (Numbers 28:15); and, besides, this, had also distinguished the new-moon's day of the seventh month by a special feast-offering to be added to the regular new-moon's sacrifices, and consisting of a sin-offering of a he-goat, and burnt-offerings and meat-offerings (Numbers 29:2-6). This distinguishing of the seventh month by a special new-moon's sacrifice is omitted in Ezekiel; but in the place of it the first month is distinguished by a sin-offering to be presented on the first and seventh days. Nothing is said in Ezekiel 45:18-20 about burnt-offerings for these days; but as the burnt-offering is appointed in Ezekiel 46:6-7 for the new-moon's day without any limitation, and the regulations as to the connection between the meat-offering and the burnt-offerings are repeated in Ezekiel 46:11 for the holy days and feast days (הגּים וּמועדים) generally, and the new-moon's day is also reckoned among the מועדים, there is evidently good ground for the assumption that the burnt-offering and meat-offering prescribed for the new moon in Ezekiel 46:6-7 were also to be offered at the new moon of the first month. On the other hand, no special burnt-offering or meat-offering is mentioned for the seventh day of the first month; so that in all probability only the daily burnt-offering and meat-offering were added upon that day (Ezekiel 46:13.) to the sin-offering appointed for it. Moreover, the sin-offerings prescribed for the first and seventh days of the first month are distinguished from the sin-offerings of the Mosaic law, partly by the animal selected (a young bullock), and partly by the disposal of the blood. According to the Mosaic law, the sin-offering for the new moons, as well as for all the feast days of the year, the Passover, Pentecost, day of trumpets, day of atonement, and feast of tabernacles (all eight days), was to be a he-goat (Numbers 28:15; Numbers 22:30; Numbers 29:5, Numbers 29:11, Numbers 29:16, Numbers 29:19, Numbers 29:22, Numbers 29:25, Numbers 29:28, Numbers 29:31, Numbers 29:34, Numbers 29:38). Even the sin-offering for the congregation of Israel on the great day of atonement simply consisted in a he-goat (or two he-goats, Leviticus 16:5); and it was only for the sin-offering for the high priest, whether on that day (Leviticus 16:3), or when he had sinned so as to bring guilt upon the nation (Leviticus 4:3), or when the whole congregation had sinned (Leviticus 4:14), that a bullock was required. On the other hand, according to Ezekiel, the sin-offering both on the first and seventh days of the first month, and also the one to be brought by the prince on the fourteenth day of that month, i.e., on the day of the feast of Passover (Ezekiel 45:22), for himself and for all the people, were to consist of a bullock and only the sin-offering on the seven days of the feast of Passover and tabernacles of a he-goat (Ezekiel 45:23, Ezekiel 45:25). The Mosaic law contains no express instructions concerning the sprinkling of the blood of the sin-offering at the new moons and feasts (with the exception of the great atoning sacrifice on the day of atonement), because it was probably the same as in the case of the sin-offerings for the high priest and the whole congregation, when the blood was first of all to be sprinkled seven times against the curtain in front of the capporeth, and then to be applied to the horns of the altar of incense, and the remainder to be poured out at the foot of the altar of burnt-offering (Leviticus 4:6-7, Leviticus 4:17-18); whereas, in the case of the great atoning sacrifice on the day of atonement, some of the blood was first of all to be sprinkled at or upon the front side of the capporeth and seven times upon the ground, and after that it was to be applied to the horns of the altar of incense and of the altar of burnt-offering (Leviticus 16:15-17). But according to Ezekiel, some of the blood of the sin-offerings on the first and seventh days of the first month, and certainly also on the same days of the feasts of Passover and tabernacles, was to be smeared upon the posts of the house - that is to say, the posts mentioned in Ezekiel 41:21, not merely those of the היכל, the door into the holy place, but also those of the קדשׁ, the door leading into the most holy place, upon the horns and the four corners of the enclosure of the altar of burnt-offering (Ezekiel 43:20), and upon the posts of the gate of the inner court. It is a point in dispute here whether שׁער החצר is only one door, and in that case whether the east gate of the inner court is to be understood as in Ezekiel 46:2 (מזוּזת השּׁער), as Hitzig and others suppose, or whether שׁער rehtehw is to be taken in a collective sense as signifying the three gates of the inner court (Kliefoth and others). The latter view is favoured by the collective use of the word מזוּזה by itself, and also by the circumstance that if only one of the three gates were intended, the statement which of the three would hardly have been omitted (cf. Ezekiel 46:1; Ezekiel 44:1, etc.).
According to Ezekiel 45:18, these sin-offerings were to serve for the absolving of the sanctuary; and according to Ezekiel 45:20, to make atonement for the temple on account of error or folly. Both directions mean the same thing. The reconciliation of the temple was effected by its absolution or purification from the sins that had come upon it through the error and folly of the people. Sins בּשׁגגה are sins occasioned by the weakness of flesh and blood, for which expiation could be made by sin-offerings (see the comm. on Leviticus 4:2 and Numbers 15:22.). מאישׁ שׁגה, lit., away from the erring man, i.e., to release him from his sin. This expression is strengthened by מפּתי, away from simplicity or folly; here, as in Proverbs 7:7, as abstractum pro concreto, the simple man. - The great expiatory sacrifice on the day of atonement answered the same purpose, the absolution of the sanctuary from the sins of the people committed בּשׁגגה (Leviticus 16:16.).
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