Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king has demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show to the king;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The secret . . .—In this and the next verse Daniel justifies the astonishment of the king, and explains to him that what the wise men had stated was perfectly true. The “gods whose dwelling was with flesh” (see Note on Daniel 2:11) could not reveal the secret, but there was a God in heaven who had made it known. Daniel here teaches us what Scripture lays down elsewhere (Genesis 20:3; Genesis 41:16; Genesis 41:25; Genesis 41:28; Numbers 22:35), that all power of prediction is to be excluded from heathen gods, and is possessed by wise men only so far as they acquire it through the God of heaven.
The wise men, the astrologers ... - On these words, see the notes at Daniel 1:20. All these words occur in that verse, except גזרין gâzerı̂yn - rendered "soothsayers." This is derived from גזר gezar - "to cut, to cut off;" and then "to decide, to determine;" and it is thus applied to those who decide or determine the fates or destiny of men; that is, those who "by casting nativities from the place of the stars at one's birth, and by various arts of computing and divining, foretold the fortunes and destinies of individuals." See Gesenius, "Com. z. Isa." 2:349-356, Section 4, Von den Chaldern und deren Astrologie. On p. 555, he has given a figure, showing how the heavens were "cut up," or "divided," by astrologers in the practice of their art. Compare the phrase numeri Babylonii, in Hor. "Carm." I. xi. 2. The Greek is γαζαρηνῶν gazarēnōn - the Chaldee word in Greek letters. This is one of the words - not very few in number - which the authors of the Greek version did not attempt to translate. Such words, however, are not useless, as they serve to throw light on the question how the Hebrew and Chaldee were pronounced before the vowel points were affixed to those languages.
soothsayers—from a root, "to cut off"; referring to their cutting the heavens into divisions, and so guessing at men's destinies from the place of the stars at one's birth.
and said, the secret which the king hath demanded: so he calls it, to show that it was something divine, which came from God, and could only be revealed by him, and was not to be found out by any art of man:
cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers show unto the king; this he premises to the revelation of the secret, not only to observe the unreasonableness of the king's demand upon them, and the injustice of putting men to death for it; but that the discovery of the whole might appear to be truly divine, and God might have all the glory; it being what no class of men whatever could ever have made known unto him. The last word, rendered "soothsayers" (u), is not used before; the Septuagint version leaves it untranslated, and calls them Gazarenes; and so Saadiah says, it is the name of a nation or people so called; but Jarchi takes them to be a sort of men that had confederacy with devils: the word signifies such that "cut" into parts, as the soothsayers, who cut up creatures, and looked into their entrails, and by them made their judgment of events; or as the astrologers, who cut and divide the heavens into parts, and by them divide future things; or determine, as Jacchiades says, what shall befall men; for the word is used also in the sense of determining or decreeing; hence, Saadiah says, some interpret it of princes, who by their words determine the affairs of kingdoms: by some it is rendered "fatalists" (w), who declare to men what their fate will be; but neither of these could show this secret to the king.Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)27. in the presence of] before (R.V.), as Daniel 2:9.
demanded] simply asked, which is all that ‘demand’ formerly expressed. ‘Like Fr. demander, to ask, simply; not as now in the stronger sense of “to ask with authority, or as a right,” ’ (W. A. Wright, Bible Word-book, s.v.). So Exodus 5:14; 2 Samuel 11:7; Job 38:3. ‘Demand’ in the modern sense would suit these passages; but the Hebrew word used is the one that ordinarily means ‘ask.’
can neither wise men, enchanters (Daniel 2:2), magicians, nor determiners (of fates) declare unto the king] The terms are all indefinite in the original. ‘Determiners’ (also Daniel 4:4, Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:11), viz. of future destinies, whether by observation of the heavens (Isaiah 47:13), or by other means. The Babylonians were famed for their astrology, and in classical times the idea of astrologer was that which was almost entirely associated with the term ‘Chaldaean’ (cf. above, p. 13). The verb (strictly, to cut), in the general sense of decide, decree, occurs in the Targums and in Syriac, and once also in the Aramaizing idiom of Job (Job 22:28); cf. the cognate subst., Daniel 4:14; Daniel 4:21. In this particular application, however, it is at present known only in the Biblical Aramaic.Verse 27. - Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king. The differences between this and the Septuagint are but slight and unimportant. To render it literally, the LXX. is, "Daniel, having spoken out in the presence of the king, said, The mystery which the king saw is nut the showing of the wise men, the astrologers, the sorcerers, the magicians." There seems to have been a confusion between עֲנָה ('anah), "to answer," and צְנָה (tzenah), "to cry out;" the latter word is unsuitable in the present connection. The change from שׁאל to חזה is unlikely to have been the result of any mistake in the writing of the original. It may have been the Greek scribe who misread ἠρώτησεν into ἑώρακεν. Theodotion and the Peshitta present no peculiarities worthy of notice. Jerome translates asbshaphim by magi, as usual, following the Peshitta. It is to be observed that here again we have a list of the different classes of soothsayers, and the class of Chaldeans is omitted, as also those marked as mecashphim in ver. 2; instead, occupying the same place in the catalogue, is gazrin. This may have been the original word, as evidently the real meaning was not known either in Egypt or Asia Minor, as both the LXX. and Theodotion transfer the word. The Peshitta translates this word by asuphe, in reality the corresponding one to the second word in the Chaldee. This would seem to show that the word had disappeared from Eastern as well as Western Aramaic. It is derived from gezar, "to eat." Behrmann ('Das Buch Daniel') derives it thus, and says that it refers to the fact that those who studied nativities divided the heavens into sectiones or segmenta. This was precisely what the "Chaldeans" of classic times did; hence it is quite a possible thing that Chaldeans was inserted in some Greek translations, and got into the Aramaic from the Greek. The word does not seem to be used for , astrologers" in the Talmud. The occasion of Daniel's narrating the impotence of the other wise men in presence of the task set them by the king is that probably he recognized the accent of surprise in the king's tone. As if he said, "Yes, it is perfectly true, what none of these wise men could do, I, a mere youth, undertake to do." There is nothing of contempt for them in this, as is seen in the following verse. There may be a shade of rebuke implied to the king, who had demanded from men what they could not do. They had declared that only the gods could reveal this to the king. And what Daniel says is not in opposition to this, but confirmatory of it. Ezekiel 46:8. And when the prince cometh, he shall go in by the way to the porch of the gate, and by its way shall he go out. Ezekiel 46:9. And when the people of the land come before Jehovah on the feast days, he who enters through the north gate to worship shall go out through the south gate; and he who enters through the south gate shall go out through the north gate: they shall not return through the gate through which they entered, but go out straight forward. Ezekiel 46:10. And the prince shall enter in the midst of them, when they enter; and when they go out, they shall go out (together). Ezekiel 46:11. And at the feast days and holy days the meat-offering shall be an ephah for the bullock, an ephah for the ram, and for the lambs what his hand may give, and of oil a hin for the ephah. Ezekiel 46:12. And when the prince prepares a voluntary burnt-offering or voluntary peace-offerings to Jehovah, they shall open the gate that looks to the east, and he shall prepare his burnt-offerings and his peace-offering as he does on the Sabbath day; and when he has gone out they shall shut the gate after his going out. - The coming of the people to worship before Jehovah has been already mentioned in Ezekiel 46:3, but only causally, with reference to the position which they were to take behind the prince in case any individuals should come on the Sabbaths or new moons, on which they were not bound to appear. At the high festivals, on the other hand, every one was to come (Deuteronomy 16:16); and for this there follow the necessary directions in Ezekiel 46:9 and Ezekiel 46:10, to prevent crowding and confusion. For the purpose of linking these directions to what comes before, the rule already laid down in Ezekiel 46:2 concerning the entrance and exit of the prince is repeated in Ezekiel 46:8. מועדים is supposed by the commentators to refer to the high festivals of the first and seventh months (Ezekiel 45:21 and Ezekiel 45:25); but מועדים does not apply to the same feasts as those which are called הגּים in Ezekiel 46:11, as we may see from the combination of הגּים and מועדים. הגּים is the term applied to the greater annual feasts, as distinguished from the Sabbaths, new moons, and the day of atonement. The מועדים, on the contrary, are all the times and days sanctified to the Lord, including even the Sabbath (see the comm. on Leviticus 23:2). It is in this sense that מועדים is used here in Ezekiel 46:9, and not הגּים, because what is laid down concerning the entrance and exit of the people, when visiting the temple, is not merely intended to apply to the high festivals, on which the people were bound to appear before Jehovah, but also to such feast days as the Sabbaths and new moons, whenever individuals from among the people were desirous of their own free-will to worship before the Lord. The latter cases were not to be excluded, although, as Ezekiel 46:10 clearly shows, the great feasts were principally kept in mind. For the entrance and exit of the prince in the midst of the people (Ezekiel 46:10) apply to the great yearly feasts alone. The Chetib yeetsee'uw יצאוּ in Ezekiel 46:9 is to be preferred to the easier Keri יצא, and is not merely the more difficult reading, but the more correct reading also, as two kinds of people are mentioned, - those who entered by the north gate and those who entered by the south. Both are to go out walking straight forward; and neither of them is to turn in the court for the purpose of going out by the gate through which he entered. Even in Ezekiel 46:10 יצאוּ is not to be altered, as Hitzig supposes, but to be taken as referring to the prince and the people. - In Ezekiel 46:11, the instructions given in Ezekiel 45:24; Ezekiel 46:5, Ezekiel 46:7, concerning the quantities composing the meat-offering for the different feasts, are repeated here as rules applicable to all festal times. בּהגּים וּבמועדים has been correctly explained as follows: "at the feasts, and generally at all regular (more correctly, established) seasons," cf. Ezekiel 45:17. Only the daily sacrifices are excepted from this rule, other regulations being laid down for them in Ezekiel 46:14. - Ezekiel 46:12. The freewill-offerings could be presented on any week-day. And the rules laid down in Ezekiel 46:1 and Ezekiel 46:2 for the Sabbath-offerings of the prince are extended to cases of this kind, with one modification, namely, that the east gate, which had been opened for the occasion, should be closed again as soon as the sacrificial ceremony was over, and not left open till the evening, as on the Sabbath and new moon. נדבה is a substantive: the freewill-offering, which could be either a burnt-offering or a peace-offering.
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