Daniel 5:15
And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing:
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(15) The thing—i.e., the whole of this miraculous transaction.

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.And now the wise men ... - Daniel 5:7-8. 13. the captivity of Judah—the captive Jews residing in Babylon. No text from Poole on this verse. And now the wise men; the astrologers, have been brought in before me,.... For it seems they came not of themselves, or upon hearing his loud cry; but were sent for by him, and came by his orders, and were introduced into his presence by the proper officers:

that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof; pointing to the writing upon the wall:

but they could not show the interpretation of the thing; nor even read it; though it may be some of them might attempt to read it, and did read it in their way, as well as they could, or at least pretended to read; yet could make no manner of sense of it, which was the thing the king was intent upon.

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 shew the interpretation of the thing:
15. the astrologers] the enchanters (Daniel 1:20).

shew] declare.משׂכּיל, skilful, intelligent in all wisdom, i.e., in the subjects of Chaldean wisdom (cf. Daniel 1:17), is to be understood of the ability to apply themselves to the study of wisdom. In like manner the other mental requisites here mentioned are to be understood. דעת ידעי, having knowledge, showing understanding; מדּע מביני, possessing a faculty for knowledge, a strength of judgment. בּהם כּוח ואשׁר, in whom was strength, i.e., who had the fitness in bodily and mental endowments appropriately to stand in the palace of the king, and as servants to attend to his commands. וּללמּדם (to teach them) is co-ordinate with להביא (to bring) in Daniel 1:3, and depends on ויּאמר (and he spake). For this service they must be instructed and trained in the learning and language of the Chaldeans. ספר refers to the Chaldee literature, and in Daniel 1:17 כּל־ספר, and לשׁון to conversation or the power of speaking in that language. כּשׂדּים, Chaldeans, is the name usually given (1) to the inhabitants of the Babylonian kingdom founded by Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar, and (2) in a more restricted sense to the first class of the Babylonish priests and learned men or magi, and then frequently to the whole body of the wise men of Babylon; cf. at Daniel 2:2. In this second meaning the word is here used. The language of the כּשׂדּים is not, as Ros., Hitz., and Kran. suppose, the Eastern Aramaic branch of the Semitic language, which is usually called the Chaldean language; for this tongue, in which the Chaldean wise men answered Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:4.), is called in Daniel 2:4, as well as in Ezra 4:7 and Isaiah 36:11, the ארמית, Aramaic (Syriac), and is therefore different from the language of the כּשׁדּים.

But the question as to what this language used by the Chaldeans was, depends on the view that may be taken of the much controverted question as to the origin of the כּשׂדּים, Χαλδαίοι. The oldest historical trace of the כּשׂדּים lies in the name כּשׂדּים אוּר (Ur of the Chaldees, lxx χώρα τῶν Χαλδαίων), the place from which Terah the father of Abraham went forth with his family to Charran in the north of Mesopotamia. The origin of Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees, when taken in connection with the fact (Genesis 22:22) that one of the sons of Nahor, Abraham's brother, was called כּשׂד (Chesed), whose descendants would be called כּשׂדּים, appears to speak for the origin of the כּשׂדּים from Shem. In addition to this also, and in support of the same opinion, it has been noticed that one of Shem's sons was called ארפּכשׁד (Arphaxad). But the connection of ארפכשׁד with כּשׂד is unwarrantable; and that Nahor's son כּשׂד was the father of a race called כשׂדים, is a supposition which cannot be established. But if a race actually descended from this כשׂד, then they could be no other than the Bedouin tribe the כּשׂדּים, which fell upon Job's camels (Job 1:17), but not the people of the Chaldees after whom, in Terah's time, Ur was already named. The sojourn of the patriarch Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees finally by no means proves that Terah himself was a Chaldean. He may have been induced also by the advance of the Chaldeans into Northern Mesopotamia to go forth on his wanderings.

This much is at all events unquestionable, and is now acknowledged, that the original inhabitants of Babylonia were of Semitic origin, as the account of the origin of the nations in Genesis 10 shows. According to Genesis 10:22, Shem had five sons, Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram, whose descendants peopled and gave name to the following countries: - The descendants of Elam occupied the country called Elymais, between the Lower Tigris and the mountains of Iran; of Asshur, Assyria, lying to the north-the hilly country between the Tigris and the mountain range of Iran; or Arphaxad, the country of Arrapachitis on the Upper Tigris, on the eastern banks of that river, where the highlands of Armenia begin to descend. Lud, the father of the Lydians, is the representative of the Semites who went westward to Asia Minor; and Aram of the Semites who spread along the middle course of the Euphrates to the Tigris in the east, and to Syria in the west. From this M. Duncker (Gesch. des Alterth.) has concluded: "According to this catalogue of the nations, which shows the extension of the Semitic race from the mountains of Armenia southward to the Persian Gulf, eastward to the mountains of Iran, westward into Asia Minor, we follow the Semites along the course of the two great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, to the south. Northwards from Arphaxad lie the mountains of the Chasdim, whom the Greeks call Chaldaei, Carduchi, Gordiaei, whose boundary toward Armenia was the river Centrites."

"If we find the name of the Chaldeans also on the Lower Euphrates, if in particular that name designates a region on the western bank of the Euphrates to its mouth, the extreme limit of the fruitful land watered by the Euphrates towards the Arabian desert, then we need not doubt that this name was brought from the Armenian mountains to the Lower Euphrates, and that it owes its origin to the migration of these Chaldeans from the mountains. - Berosus uses as interchangeable the names Chaldea and Babylonia for the whole region between the Lower Euphrates and the Tigris down to the sea. But it is remarkable that the original Semitic name of this region, Shinar, is distinct from that of the Chaldeans; remarkable that the priests in Shinar were specially called Chaldeans, that in the fragments of Berosus the patriarchs were already designated Chaldeans of this or that city, and finally that the native rulers were particularly known by this name. We must from all this conclude, that there was a double migration fro the north to the regions on the Lower Euphrates and Tigris; that they were first occupied by the Elamites, who came down along the Tigris; and that afterwards a band came down from the mountains of the Chaldeans along the western bank of the Tigris, that they kept their flocks for a long time in the region of Nisibis, and faintly that they followed the Euphrates and obtained superiority over the earlier settlers, who had sprung from the same stem (?), and spread themselves westward from the mouth of the Euphrates. The supremacy which was thus established was exercised by the chiefs of the Chaldeans; they were the ruling family in the kingdom which they founded by their authority, and whose older form of civilisation they adopted."

If, according to this, the Chaldeans are certainly not Semites, then it is not yet decided whether they belonged to the Japhetic race of Aryans, or, as C. Sax

(Note: In the Abhdl. "on the ancient history of Babylon and the nationality of the Cushites and the Chaldeans," in the Deutsch. morg. Ztschr. xxii. pp. 1-68. Here Sac seeks to prove "that the Chaldeans, identical with the biblical Chasdim, were a tribe ruling from ancient times from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea, and particularly in Babylonia, which at length occupied the southern region from the mouth of the Euphrates to the Armeneo-Pontine range of mountains, but was in Babylonia especially represented by the priest caste and the learned." This idea the author grounds on the identification of the Bible Cushites with the Scythians of the Greeks and Romans, the evidence for which is for the most part extremely weak, and consists of arbitrary and violent combinations, the inconsistency of which is at once manifest, as e.g., the identification of the כּשׂדּים with the כּסלחים, Genesis 10:14, the conclusions drawn from Ezekiel 29:10 and Ezekiel 38:5. of the spread of the Cushites into Arabia and their reception into the Scythian army of the northern Gog, etc. In general, as Sax presents it, this supposition is untenable, yet it contains elements of truth which are not to be overlooked.)

has recently endeavoured to make probable, to the Hamitic race of Cushites, a nation belonging to the Tartaric (Turamic) family of nations. As to the Aryan origin, besides the relation of the Chaldeans, the Gordiaei, and the Carduchi to the modern Kurds, whose language belongs to the Indo-Germanic, and indeed to the Aryan family of languages, the further circumstance may be referred to: that in Assyria and Babylonia the elements of the Aryan language are found in very ancient times. Yet these two facts do not furnish any conclusive evidence on the point. From the language of the modern Kurds being related to the Aryan language no certain conclusion can be drawn as to the language of the ancient Chaldees, Gordiaei, and Carduchi; and the introduction of Aryan words and appellations into the language of the Semitic Assyrians and Babylonians is fully explained, partly from the intercourse which both could not but maintain with Iranians, the Medes and Persians, who were bordering nations, partly from the dominion exercised for some time over Babylonia by the Iranian race, which is affirmed in the fragments of Berosus, according to which the second dynasty in Babylon after the Flood was the Median. Notwithstanding we would decide in favour of the Aryan origin of the Chaldeans, did not on the one side the biblical account of the kingdom which Nimrod the Cushite founded in Babel and extended over Assyria (Genesis 10:8-12), and on the other the result to which the researches of the learned into the antiquities of Assyria regarding the development of culture and of writing in Babylonia,

(Note: The biblical tradition regarding the kingdom founded by Nimrod in Babel, Duncker (p. 204) has with arbitrary authority set aside, because it is irreconcilable with his idea of the development of Babylonian culture. It appears, however, to receive confirmation from recent researches into the ancient monuments of Babylonia and Assyria, which have led to the conclusion, that of the three kinds of cuneiform letters that of the Babylonian bricks is older than the Assyrian, and that the oldest form originated in an older hieroglyphic writing, of which isolated examples are found in the valley of the Tigris and in Susiana; whence it must be concluded that the invention of cuneiform letters did not take place among the Semites, but among a people of the Tauranian race which probably had in former times their seat in Susiana, or at the mouth of the Euphrates and the Tigris on the Persian Gulf. Cf. Spiegel in Herz.'s Realencyclop., who, after stating this result, remarks: "Thus the fact is remarkable that a people of the Turko-Tartaric race appear as the possessors of a high culture, while people of this tribe appear in the world's history almost always as only destitute of culture, and in many ways hindering civilisation; so that it cannot but be confessed that, so far as matters now are, one is almost constrained to imagine that the state of the case is as follows," and thus he concludes his history of cuneiform writing: - "Cuneiform writing arose in ancient times, several thousand years before the birth of Christ, very probably from an ancient hieroglyphic system of writing, in the region about the mouths of the Euphrates and the Tigris on the Persian Gulf. It was found existing by a people of a strange race, belonging neither to the Semites nor to the Indo-Germans. It was very soon, however, adopted by the Semites. The oldest monuments of cuneiform writing belong to the extreme south of the Mesopotamian plain. In the course of time it pressed northward first to Babylon, where it assumed a more regular form than among the Assyrians. From Assyria it may have come among the Indo-Germans first to Armenia; for the specimens of cuneiform writing found in Armenia are indeed in syllabic writing, but in a decidedly Indo-Germanic language. How the syllabic writing was changed into letter-(of the alphabet) writing is as yet obscure. The most recent kind of cuneiform writing which we know, the Old Persian, is decidedly letter-writing." Should this view of the development of the cuneiform style of writing be confirmed by further investigations, then it may be probable that the Chaldeans were the possessors and cultivators of this science of writing, and that their language and literature belonged neither to the Semitic nor yet to the Indo-Germanic or Aryan family of languages.)

make this view very doubtful.

If, then, for the present no certain answer can be given to the question as to the origin of the Chaldeans and the nature of their language and writing, yet this much may be accepted as certain, that the language and writing of the כּשׂדּים was not Semitic or Aramaic, but that the Chaldeans had in remote times migrated into Babylonia, and there had obtained dominion over the Semitic inhabitants of the land, and that from among this dominant race the Chaldees, the priestly and the learned cast of the Chaldeans, arose. This caste in Babylon is much older than the Chaldean monarchy founded by Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel and his companions were to be educated in the wisdom of the Chaldean priests and learned men, which was taught in the schools of Babylon, at Borsippa in Babylonia, and Hipparene in Mesopotamia (Strab. xvi. 1, and Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 26). Daniel 1:5. To this end Nebuchadnezzar assigned to them for their support provision from the king's household, following Oriental custom, according to which all officers of the court were fed from the king's table, as Athen. iv. 10, p. 69, and Plut. probl. vii. 4, testify regarding the Persians. This appears also (1 Kings 5:2-3) to have been the custom in Israel. בּיומו יום דּבר, the daily portion, cf. Exodus 5:13, Exodus 5:19; Jeremiah 52:34, etc. פּתבּג comes from path, in Zend. paiti, Sanscr. prati equals προτί, πρός, and bag, in Sanscr. bhâga, portion, provision, cf. Ezekiel 25:7. With regard to the composition, cf. The Sanscr. pratibhâgha, a portion of fruits, flowers, etc., which the Rajah daily requires for his household; cf. Gildemeister in Lassen's Zeits.f. d. Kunde des Morg. iv. 1, p. 214. פּתבּג therefore means neither ambrosia, nor dainties, but generally food, victuals, food of flesh and meal in opposition to wine, drink (משׁתּיו is singular), and vegetables (Daniel 1:12).

The king also limits the period of their education to three years, according to the Persian as well as the Chaldean custom. וּלגדּלם does not depend on ויּאמר (Daniel 1:3), but is joined with וימן, and is the final infinitive with וexplicative, meaning, and that he may nourish them. The infinitive is expressed by the fin. verb יעמדוּ, to stand before (the king). The carrying out of the king's command is passed over as a matter of course, yet it is spoken of as obeyed (cf. Daniel 1:6.).

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