Daniel 5:13
Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spoke and said to Daniel, Are you that Daniel, which are of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
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(13) And the king spake.—The words of the queen-mother, especially her mention of the circumstance that Daniel’s name had been changed to Beltehazzar, at once recalls the whole of the circumstances to the king’s mind. That Belshazzar knew him by reputation is plain from the description given of him at the end of the verse: “which art of the children of the captivity of Judah.”

Art thou that Daniel?—He calls him by his Hebrew name, so as to avoid one which sounded so much like his own. Daniel was now nearly ninety years of age.

Daniel 5:13-17. Then was Daniel brought in before the king — Daniel was now near ninety years of age; so that his years and honours, and former preferments, might have entitled him to a free admission into the king’s presence; yet he was willing to be introduced, as a stranger, by the king’s servants. The king said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel — This question of the king shows, that if he was at all acquainted with Daniel, it was very imperfectly; and that in however high esteem that extraordinary man had been held in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, and whatever offices of trust and honour he had then filled, he was now sunk into neglect, Belshazzar being a weak and vicious prince, according to the character historians give of him, and one who interested himself very little in public affairs, leaving the care of them to his mother, and himself minding nothing but his pleasures. Now if thou canst read the writing, &c., thou shalt be clothed with scarlet — He promises him the same rewards if he could read and interpret the writing as he had promised his wise men on condition of their doing it. Then Daniel answered, Let thy gifts be to thyself — As Daniel was now in years, and Belshazzar young, he therefore seems to take a greater liberty, and to deal more plainly with him, than he had done upon the like occasions with Nebuchadnezzar. He addresses him as a very aged and eminent person would address one much younger than himself. When he was consulted by Nebuchadnezzar, and was allowed the liberty of conversing with him and giving him counsel, he foresaw that the Chaldean monarchy would continue for some time, and that his being preferred would give him an opportunity of being useful to his brethren; but he now knew that that empire was about to terminate, and Belshazzar’s reign and life to come to a period. Nebuchadnezzar, though an idolater and a tyrant, yet had great abilities, attended to the affairs of his kingdom, and was, in many respects, very eminent as a monarch; but Belshazzar was every way base, odious, and contemptible. “Above all, he had that night been insulting the God of heaven in the most daring manner, by profaning the sacred vessels in his revels, and extolling his own idols. Daniel therefore knew that his doom was irreversible, and immediately to be put in execution; and he did not speak to him as a subject to his prince, but as the delegate of heaven he denounced sentence against him as a condemned criminal.” — Scott. Some commentators have been puzzled to account for Daniel’s rejecting the king’s presents here, and afterward accepting them, as is mentioned Daniel 5:29; but his intention in what he now says is only modestly to decline the honours, and to intimate that they could have no influence on his mind, which yet, at the king’s command, afterward he could not but accept. In other words, he means to say, that he was ready to do whatever the king enjoined, without any respect to a recompense: see Calmet. Yet will I read the writing unto the king — Daniel seems to have made this declaration in consequence of a persuasion wherewith he was inspired of God, before he even cast his eye upon the writing.5:10-17 Daniel was forgotten at court; he lived privately, and was then ninety years of age. Many consult servants of God on curious questions, or to explain difficult subjects, but without asking the way of salvation, or the path of duty. Daniel slighted the offer of reward. He spoke to Belshazzar as to a condemned criminal. We should despise all the gifts and rewards this world can give, did we see, as we may by faith, its end hastening on; but let us do our duty in the world, and do it all the real service we can.Then was Daniel brought in before the king - From this it is clear that he lived in Babylon, though in comparative obscurity. It would seem to be not improbable that he was still known to the queen-mother, who, perhaps, kept up an acquaintance with him on account of his former services.

Art thou that Daniel - This is a clear proof that Belshazzar was not acquainted personally with him. See the note at Daniel 5:11.

Which art of the children of the captivity of Judah - Belonging to those of Judah, or those Jews who were made captives, and who reside in Babylon. See the notes at Daniel 1:3. He could not be ignorant that there were Jews in his kingdom, though he was not personally acquainted with Daniel.

Whom the king my father - Margin, as in Daniel 5:2, Daniel 5:1, "grandfather."

Brought out of Jewry? - Out of Judea. See Daniel 1:1-3.

13. the captivity of Judah—the captive Jews residing in Babylon. Though he was in high esteem for his skill in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, who had him in high honour, for the Spirit of God in him; yet he being dead, and other kings coming on that had never tried his abilities nor known his merits, (as it was in Joseph’s case, Exodus 1:8) hereby he came to be neglected and despised, as those words seem to import, Daniel 5:13,

Art thou that Daniel of the captivity of the children of Judah, & c.? Then was Daniel brought in before the king,.... Proper officers being sent to seek and find him; and having fetched him from his house or apartment where he lived, which seems to have been in the city of Babylon, though not very probably at court as formerly, he was introduced in form into the king's presence;

and the king spake and said unto Daniel, art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? by which it appears he did not know him, at least had forgot him; not having admitted him to any familiarity with him, as his grandfather had done; and though the queen had given such great commendations of him, yet the king does not treat him with that respect as might have been expected, and as Nebuchadnezzar did, Daniel 4:9, but seems to reproach him with his servile condition, being a captive whom his grandfather had brought out of Judea, as it were triumphing over him and his people; which shows the haughtiness of his heart, and that it was not brought down by this consternation and fright he was thrown into.

Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
13. spake] answered.

Art thou that Daniel] Art thou Daniel. The pron. thou is emphatic; but ‘that’ implies a false view of the syntax of the sentence (cf. on Daniel 2:38 and Daniel 3:15).

who is of the children of the exile of Judah, &c.] See Daniel 2:25.

Jewry] Judah. ‘Jewry,’ i.e., the country of the Jews, is an old English expression for Judah (or Judæa): in A.V. it occurs besides in Luke 23:5 and John 7:1, as well as frequently in the Apocrypha. It is a standing expression in Coverdale’s version of the Bible (1535); and from him it passed into Psalm 76:1 in the P.B.V. Shakespeare uses it seven times; e.g. ‘Herod of Jewry,’ A. and Cl. i. 2, 28, iii. 3, 3.Verses 13-16. - Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing; and I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts; now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. There is a great deal of rhetoric in this, and the attempt to restore the stately etiquette of the Babylonian court. The king is represented as repeating very much what his mother had told him. It is to be observed that, although the queen-mother - as the Massoretic text records her words - has not spoken a word of Daniel's origin, and implies that Belshazzar knew noticing of him, yet when he comes, Belshazzar addresses him as knowing who and whence he is. The suspicion that is engendered by the mere reading of the text as we have it is confirmed by a study of the Septuagint text, where these four verses shrink into very modest dimensions, "Then Daniel was brought to the king, and the king answered and said, O Daniel, art thou able to show me the interpretation of the writing? and I will clothe thee with purple, and put a gold chain about thy neck, and thou shalt have authority over a third part of my kingdom." The brevity of this, the utter want of rhetoric, not to speak of its dramatic verisimilitude to the speech of a man beside himself with terror, make it the more probable text. Condensation was rarely the work of a falsarius; he might omit statements that were antagonistic to some preconceived notion, or, if only a leaf or so remained of a parchment otherwise filled up, he might endeavour to utilize the space left him by putting down as much as he could of some work he valued. Then, in such a case, a copyist might really condense. But neither of these causes can explain the omission of the rhetorical passages here. We are compelled, then, to regard the text behind the Septuagint in this place as the true Daniel. Theodotion, while on the whole agreeing with the text of the Massoretes, is briefer in some respects. There is one addition, the insertion of "magicians" between "wise men and "astrologers. This shows the process of the evolution of the Massoretic text. The Peshitta, though but little, if at all, later than Theodotion, is in yet closer agreement with the text of the Massoretes. Yet the Massoretic text shows certain peculiarities. The presence of נ, in the second personal pronoun, which was disappearing from Targumic, but is regularly found in Daniel, is to be observed. Further, there is אב with the suffix of the first person, which is not Targumic, but is found in the Sindschirli inscription. In the Targums it is אבא, not אבי, as in Genesis 9:34, Onkelos. Eastern Aramaic retained it, as may be seen in the Peshitta Version of the passage before us, and of that to which we have referred. This is another of the many slight indications which all point to the Eastern origin of the Book or' Daniel. It may be observed that we have not here תַּלְתִּי (tal'ti), but תַּלְתָּא (tal'ta). This is regarded by Behrmann as status empbaticus. The king in his terror makes appeal to one who, perhaps, had been dismissed the court on suspicion of being opposed to the new dynasty. That dynasty had displaced and murdered Evil-Merodach, the son of Daniel's old master, and one who had shown himself specially favourable to the Jews. As the text of the Septuagint gives the narrative, we have the king eager to have his terrors laid, and, to lead this opponent, whom his father, if not also Neriglissatr, had displaced, and put in opposition to his rule, to look favourably on him, he mentions the reward he offers. "The Lord gave Jehoiakim into his hands" corresponds with the words in 2 Kings 24:1, "he became his servant," and with 2 Chronicles 36:6, "and he bound him in fetters." "And part of the vessels of the house of God." מקצת without the Dag. forte, meaning properly from the end of extremity, is abbreviated from קצה עד מקּצה, cf. Jeremiah 25:33; Genesis 47:21; Exodus 26:28, and shows that "that which was found from end to end contributed its share; meaning that a great part of the whole was taken, although קצת of itself never means a part" (Kran.). As to the statement of the text, cf. 2 Chronicles 36:7. These vessels he brought (commanded to be brought) into the land of Shinar, i.e., Babylonia (Genesis 10:10), into the temple of his god, i.e., Bel, and indeed into the treasure-house of this temple. Thus we understand the meaning of the two latter clauses of Daniel 1:2, while Hitz. and Kran., with many older interpreters, refer the suffix in יביאם to Jehoiakim, and also to the vessels, on account of the express contrast in the following words, ואת־הכּלים (Kran.), and because, if it is not stated here, it is nowhere else mentioned that Nebuchadnezzar carried away men also (Hitz.). But the latter fact is expressly affirmed in Daniel 1:3, and not only supposed, as Hitz. alleges, and it was not necessary that it should be expressed in Daniel 1:2. The application of the suffix to Jehoiakim or the Jewish youths who were carried captive is excluded by the connection of יביאם with אלהיו בּית, into the house of his god. But the assertion that בּית, house, here means country, is not proved from Hosea 8:1; Hosea 9:15, nor is warranted by such passages as Exodus 29:45; Numbers 35:34; Ezekiel 37:27, etc., where mention is made of God's dwelling in the land. For God's dwelling in the land is founded on the fact of His gracious presence in the temple of the land, and even in these passages the word land does not stand for the word house. Equally unfounded is the further remark, that if by the expression אלהיו בּית the temple is to be understood, the preposition אל would stand before it, for which Zechariah 11:13; Isaiah 37:23; Genesis 45:25 are appealed to. But such passages have been referred to without observing that in them the preposition אל stands only before living objects, where it is necessary, but not before inanimate objects, such as בּית, where the special object of the motion is with sufficient distinctness denoted by the accusative. The words following, ואת־הכּלים, fall in not as adversative, but explicative: and indeed (or, namely) the vessels brought he into the treasure-house of his god - as booty. The carrying away of a part of the vessels of the temple and a number of the distinguished Jewish youth to Babylon, that they might be there trained for service at the royal court, was a sign and pledge of the subjugation of Judah and its God under the dominion of the kings and the gods of Babylon. Both are here, however, mentioned with this design, that it might be known that Daniel and his three friends, of whom this book gives further account, were among these youths, and that the holy vessels were afterwards fatal (Daniel 5) to the house of the Babylonian king.
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