Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Daniel in the Den of Lions
Darius, the king of the Medes, had it in view to place Daniel as chief officer over the whole of his realm, and thereby he awakened against Daniel (vv. 1-6 [Daniel 5:31]) the envy of the high officers of state. In order to frustrate the king's intention and to set Daniel aside, they procured an edict from Darius, which forbade for the space of thirty days, on the pain of death, prayer to be offered to any god or man, except to the king (vv. 7-10 [Daniel 6:6]). Daniel, however, notwithstanding this, continued, according to his usual custom, to open the windows of his upper room, and there to pray to God three times a day. His conduct was watched, and he was accused of violating the king's edict, and thus he brought upon himself the threatened punishment of being thrown into the den of lions (vv. 11-18 [Daniel 6:10]). But he remained uninjured among the lions; whereupon the king on the following morning caused him to be brought out of the dean, and his malicious accusers to be thrown into it (vv. 19-25 [Daniel 6:18]), and then by an edict he commanded his subjects to reverence the God of Daniel, who did wonders (vv. 26-28 [Daniel 6:25]). As a consequence of this, Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and of Cyrus the Persian (v. 29 [Daniel 6:28]).
From the historic statement of this chapter, that Darius the Mede took the Chaldean kingdom when he was about sixty-two years old (v. 1[[Daniel 5:31]), taken in connection with the closing remark (v. 29 [Daniel 6:28]) that it went well with Daniel during the reign of Darius and of Cyrus the Persian, it appears that the Chaldean kingdom, after its overthrow by the Medes and Persians, did not immediately pass into the hands of Cryus, but that between the last of the Chaldean kings who lost the kingdom and the reign of Cyrus the Persian, Darius, descended from a Median family, held the reins of government, and that not till after him did Cyrus mount the throne of the Chaldean kingdom, which had been subdued by the Medes and Persians. This Median Darius was a son of Ahasuerus (Daniel 9:1), of the seed of the Medes; and according to Daniel 11:1, the angel Gabriel stood by him in his first year, which can mean no more than that the Babylonian kingdom was not taken without divine assistance.
This Darius the Mede and his reign are not distinctly noticed by profane historians. Hence the modern critics have altogether denied his existence, or at least have called it in question, and have thence derived an argument against the historical veracity of the whole narrative.
According to Berosus and Abydenus (Fragmenta, see p. 163), Nabonnedus, the last Babylonian king, was, after the taking of Babylon, besieged by Cyrus in Borsippa, where he was taken prisoner, and then banished to Carmania. After this Cyrus reigned, as Alex. Polyhistor says, nine years over Babylon; while in the Fragments preserved by Eusebius in his Chron. Armen., to the statement that Cyrus conferred on him (i.e., nabonet), when he had obtained possession of Babylon, the margraviate of the province of Carmania, it is added, "Darius the king removed (him) a little out of the country." Also in the astronomical Canon of Ptolemy, Nabonadius the Babylonian is at once followed by the list of Persian kings, beginning with Κῦρος, who reigned nine years.
When we compare with this the accounts given by the Greek historians, we find that Herodotus (i.-96-103, 106ff.) makes mention of a succession of Median kings: Dejoces, Phraortes, Cyaxares, and Astyages. The last named, who had no male descendants, had a daughter, Mandane, married to a Persian Cambyses. Cyrus sprung from this marriage. Astyages, moved with fear lest this son of his daughter should rob him of his throne, sought to put him to death, but his design was frustrated. When Cyrus had reached manhood, Harpagus, an officer of the court of Astyages, who out of revenge had formed a conspiracy against him, called upon him at the head of the Persians to take the kingdom from his grandfather Astyages. Cyrus obeyed, moved the Persians to revolt from the Medes, attacked Astyages at Pasargada, and took him prisoner, but acted kindly toward him till his death; after which he became king over the realm of the Medes and Persians, and as such destroyed first the Lydian, and then the Babylonian kingdom. He conquered the Babylonian king, Labynetus the younger, in battle, and then besieged Babylon; and during a nocturnal festival of the Babylonians he penetrated the city by damming off the water of the Euphrates, and took it. Polyaenus, Justin, and others follow in its details this very fabulous narrative, which is adorned with dreams and fictitious incidents. Ctesias also, who records traditions of the early history of Media altogether departing from Herodotus, and who names nine kings, yet agrees with Herodotus in this, that Cyrus overcame Astyages and dethroned him. Cf. The different accounts given by Greek writers regrading the overthrow of the Median dominion by the Persians in M. Duncker's Ges. d. Alterh. ii. p. 634ff., 3rded.
Xenophon in the Cyropaedia reports somewhat otherwise regarding Cyrus. According to him, the Median king Astyages, son of Cyaxares I, gave his daughter Mandane in marriage to Cambyses, the Persia king, who was under the Median supremacy, and that Cyrus was born of this marriage (i. 2. 1). When Cyrus arrived at man's estate Astyages died, and was succeeded on the Median throne by his son Cyaxares II, the brother of Mandane (i. 5. 2). When, after this, the Lydian king Croesus concluded a covenant with the king of the Assyrians (Babylonians) having in view the overthrow of the Medes and Persians, Cyrus received the command of the united army of the Medes and Persians (iii. 3. 20ff.); and when, after a victorious battle, Cyaxares was unwilling to proceed further, Cyrus carried forward the war by his permission, and destroyed the hots of Croesus and the Assyrians, on hearing of which, Cyaxares, who had spent the night at a riotous banquet, fell into a passion, wrote a threatening letter to Cyrus, and ordered the Medes to be recalled (iv. 5. 18). But when they declared, on the statement given by Cyrus, their desire to remain with him (iv. 5. 18), Cyrus entered on the war against Babylon independently of Cyaxares (v. 3. 1). Having driven the Babylonian king back upon his capital, he sent a message to Cyaxares, desiring him to come that he might decide regarding the vanquished and regarding the continuance of the war (v. 5. 1). Inasmuch as all the Medes and the confederated nations adhered to Cyrus, Cyaxares was under the necessity of taking this step. He came to the camp of Cyrus, who exhibited to him his power by reviewing before him his whole host; he then treated him kindly, and supplied him richly from the stores of the plunder he had taken (v. 5. 1ff.). After this the war against Babylonia was carried on in such a way, that Cyaxares, sitting on the Median throne, presided over the councils of war, but Cyrus, as general, had the conduct of it (vi. 1. 6); and after he had conquered Sardes, taken Croesus the king prisoner (vii. 2. 1), and then vanquished Hither Asia, he returned to Babylon (vii. 4. 17), and during a nocturnal festival of the Babylonians took the city, whereupon the king of Babylon was slain (vii. 5. 15-33). After the conquest of Babylon the army regarded Cyrus as king, and he began to conduct his affairs as if he were king (vii. 5. 37); but he went however to Media, to present himself before Cyaxares. He brought presents to him, and showed him that there was a house and palace ready for him in Babylon, where he might reside when he went thither (viii. 5. 17f.). Cyaxares gave him his daughter to wife, and along with her, as her dowry, the whole of Media, for he had no son (viii. 5. 19). Cyrus now went first to Persian, and arranged that his father Cambyses should retain the sovereignty of it so long as he lived, and that then it should fall to him. He then returned to Media, and married the daughter of Cyaxares (viii. 5. 28). He next went to Babylon, and placed satraps over the subjugated peoples, etc. (viii. 6. 1), and so arranged that he spent the winter in Babylon, the spring in Susa, and the summer in Ecbatana (viii. 6. 22). Having reached an advanced old age, he came for the seventh time during his reign to Persia, and died there, after he had appointed his son Cambyses as his successor (viii. 7. 1ff.).
This narrative by Xenophon varies from that of Herodotus in the following principal points: - (1) According to Herodotus, the line of Median kings closes with Astyages, who had no son; Xenophon, on the contrary, speaks of Astyages as having been succeeded by his son Cyaxares on the throne. (2) According to Herodotus, Cyrus was related to the Median royal house only as being the son of the daughter of Astyages, and had a claim to the Median throne only as being the grandson of Astyages; Xenophon, on the other hand, says that he was related to the royal house of Media, not only as being the grandson of Astyages and nephew of Cyaxares II, but also as having received in marriage the daughter of his uncle Cyaxares, and along with her the dowry of the Median throne. (3) According to Herodotus, Cyrus took part in the conspiracy formed by Harpagus against Astyages, slew his grandfather in battle, and took forcible possession of the dominion over the Medes; on the contrary Xenophon relates that, though he was at variance with Cyaxares, he became again reconciled to him, and not only did not dethrone him, but permitted him to retain royal dignity even after the overthrow of Babylon, which was not brought about with his co-operation.
Of these discrepancies the first two form no special contradiction. Xenophon only communicates more of the tradition than Herodotus, who, according to his custom, makes mention only of the more celebrated of the rulers, passing by those that are less so,
(Note: Solere Herodotum praetermissis mediocribus hominibus ex longa regum serie nonnisi unum alterumve memorare reliquis eminentiorem, et aliunde constat et ipsa Babyloniae historia docet, et qua unius Nitocris reginae mentionem injicit, reliquos reges omnes usque ad Labynetum, ne Nebucadnezare quidem excepto, silentio transti (i.-185-187). - Ges. Thes. p. 350.)
and closes the list of Median kings with Astyages. Accordingly, in not mentioning Cyaxares II, he not only overlooks the second relationship Cyrus sustained to the Median royal house, but also is led to refer the tradition that the last of the Median kings had no male descendant to Astyages. The third point only presents an actual contradiction between the statements of Herodotus and those of Xenophon, viz., that according to Herodotus, Cyrus by force of arms took the kingdom from his grandfather, overcame Astyages in a battle at Pasargada, and dethroned him; while according to Xenophon, the Median kingdom first fell to Cyrus by his command of the army, and then as the dowry of his wife. Shall we now on this point decide, with v. Leng., Hitzig, and others, in favour of Herodotus and against Xenophon, and erase Cyaxares II from the list not only of the Median kings, but wholly from the page of history, because Herodotus and Ctesias have not made mention of him? Has then Herodotus or Ctesias alone recorded historical facts, and that fully, and Xenophon in the Cyropaedia fabricated only a paedagogic romance destitute of historical veracity? All thorough investigators have testified to the very contrary, and Herodotus himself openly confesses (i. 95) that he gives only the sayings regarding Cyrus which appeared to him to be credible; and yet the narrative, as given by him, consists only of a series of popular traditions which in his time were in circulation among the Medes, between two and three hundred years after the events. Xenophon also has gathered the historic material for his Cyropaedia only from tradition, but from Persian tradition, in which, favoured by the reigning dynasty, the Cyrus-legend, interwoven with the end of the Median independence and the founding of the Persian sovereignty, is more fully transmitted than among the Medes, whose national recollections, after the extinction of their dynasty, were not fostered. If we may therefore expect more exact information in Xenophon than in Herodotus, yet it is imaginable that Xenophon transformed the narrative of the rebellion by Cyrus and his war against Cyaxares into that which he has recorded as to the relation he sustained towards Cyaxares, in order that he might wipe out this moral stain from the character of his hero. But this supposition would only gain probability under the presumption of what Hitzig maintains, if it were established: "If, in Cyrop. viii. 5. 19, the Median of his own free will gave up his country to Cyrus, Xenophon's historical book shows, on the contrary, that the Persians snatched by violence the sovereignty from the Medes (Anab. iii. 4. 7, 11, 12);" but in the Anab. l.c. Xenophon does not say this, but (8) only, ὅτε παρὰ Μήδων τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐλάμβανον Πέρσαι.
(Note: Concerning the expression ἐλάμβανον τὴν ἀρχὴν , Dindorf remarks: "Verbum hoc Medos sponte Persarum imperio subjectos significat, quanquam reliqua narratio seditionem aliquam Larissensium arguere videatur. Igitur hic nihil est dissensionis inter Cyropaediam et Anabasin ... . Gravius est quod Xenophon statim in simili narratione posuit, ὅτε ἀπώλεσαν τὴν ἀρχὴν ὑπὸ Περσῶν Μῆδοι. Sed ibidem scriptor incolarum fidem antestatur." Thus the philologists are in their judgment of the matter opposed to the modern critics.)
Thus, supposing the statement that the cities of Larissa and Mespila were besieged by the Persia king at the time when the Persians gained the supremacy over the Medes were historically true, and Xenophon communicated here not a mere fabulam ab incolis narratam, yet Xenophon would not be found contradicting his Cyropaedia, since, as Kran. has well observed, "it can be nothing surprising that among a people accustomed to a native royal dynasty, however well founded Cyrus' claim in other respects might be, manifold commotions and insurrections should arise, which needed to be forcibly suppressed, so that thus the kingdom could be at the same time spoken of as conquered."
Add to this the decisive fact, that the account given by Herod. of Cyrus and the overthrow of Astyages, of which even Duncker, p. 649, remarks, that in its prompting motive "it awakens great doubts," is in open contradiction with all the well-established facts of Medo-Persian history. "All authentic reports testify that in the formation of Medo-Persia the Medes and the Persians are separated in a peculiar way, and yet bound to each other as kindred races. If Herod. is right, if Astyages was always attempting to take Cyrus' life, if Cyrus took the kingdom from Astyages by force, then such a relation between the 'Medes and Persians' (as it always occurs in the O.T.) would have been inconceivable; the Medes would not have stood to the Persians in any other relation than did the other subjugated peoples, e.g., the Babylonians" (Klief.). On the other hand, the account gives by Xenophon regarding Cyaxares so fully agrees with the narrative of Daniel regarding Darius the Mede, that, as Hitzig confesses, "the identity of the two is beyond a doubt." If, according to Xen., Cyrus conquered Babylon by the permission of Cyaxares, and after its overthrow not only offered him a "residence" there (Hitzig), but went to Media, presented himself before Cyaxares, and showed him that he had appointed for him in Babylon, in order that when he went thither εἰς οἰκεῖα κατάγεσθαι, i.e., in order that when, according to Eastern custom, he changed his residence he might have a royal palace there, so, according to Daniel, Darius did not overthrow the Chaldean kingdom, but received it (Daniel 6:1), and was made king (המלך, Daniel 9:1), namely, by Cyrus, who, according to the prophecies of Isaiah, was to overthrow Babylon, and, according to Daniel 6:29, succeeded Darius on the throne. The statement, also, that Darius was about sixty-two years old when he ascended the throne of the Chaldean kingdom, harmonizes with the report given by Xenophon, that when Cyaxares gave his daughter to Cyrus, he gave him along with her the kingdom of Media, because he had no male heir, and was so far advance din years that he could not hope to have now any son. Finally, even in respect of character the Cyaxares of Xen. resembles the Darius of Daniel. As the former describes the conduct of Cyrus while he revelled in sensual pleasures, so Darius is induced by his nobles to issue an edict without obtaining any clear knowledge as to its motive, and allows himself to be forced to put it into execution, however sorrowful he might be on account of its relation to Daniel.
After all this, there can be no reason to doubt the reign of Darius the Mede. But how long it lasted cannot be determined either from the book of Daniel, in which (Daniel 9:1) only the first year of his reign is named, or from any other direct sources. Ptolemy, in his Canon, places after Nabonadius the reign of Cyrus the Persian for nine years. With this, the words of Xenophon, τὸ ἕβδομον ἐπὶ τῆς αὑτοῦ ἀρχῆς, which by supplying ἔτος after ἕβδομον are understood of even years' reign, are combined, and thence it is concluded that Cyaxares reigned two years. But the supplement of ἔτος is not warranted by the context. The supposition, however, that Darius reigned for two years over Babylon is correct. For the Babylonian kingdom was destroyed sixty-eight years after the commencement of the Exile. Since, then, the seventy years of the Exile were completed in the first year of the reign of Cyrus (2 Chronicles 36:22.; Ezra 1:1), it follows that Cyrus became king two years after the overthrow of Babylon, and thus after Darius had reigned two years. See at Daniel 9:1-2.
From the shortness of the reign of Darius, united with the circumstance that Cyrus destroyed Babylon and put an end to the Chaldean kingdom, it is easy to explain how the brief and not very independent reign of Darius might be quite passed by, not only by Herodotus and Ctesias, and all later Greek historians, but also by Berosus. Although Cyrus only as commander-in-chief of the army of Cyaxares had with a Medo-Persian host taken Babylon, yet the tradition might speak of the conquering Persian as the lord of the Chaldean kingdom, without taking at all into account the Median chief king, whom in a brief time Cyrus the conqueror succeeded on the throne. In the later tradition of the Persians,
(Note: "In the Babylonian tradition," Kranichfeld well remarks, "the memorable catastrophe of the overthrow of Babylon would, at all events, be joined to the warlike operations of Cyrus the conquering Persian, who, according to Xenoph., conducted himself in Babylon as a king (cf. Cyrop. vii. 5. 37), and it might be very indifferent to the question for whom he specially undertook the siege. The Persian tradition had in the national interest a reason for ignoring altogether the brief Median feudal sovereignty over Babylon, which, besides, was only brought about by the successful war of a Persian prince.")
from which all the historians known to us, with the exception of Berosus, have constructed their narrative, the Median rule over the Chaldean kingdom naturally sinks down into an insignificant place in relation to the independent government of the conqueror Cyrus and his people which was so soon to follow. The absence of all notice by Berosus, Herod., and Ctesias of the short Median reign can furnish no substantial ground for calling in question the statements of Xen. regarding Cyaxares, and of Daniel regarding the Median Darius, although all other witnesses for this were altogether of no force, which is indeed asserted, but has been proved by no one.
(Note: Of these witnesses the notice by Abydenus (Chron. Armen., Euseb.) already mentioned, p. 164, bears in its aphoristic brevity, "Darius the king removed him out of the land," altogether the stamp of an historical tradition, and can be understood only of Darius the Mede, since Eusebius has joined it to the report regarding the dethroning of the last Babylonian king by Cyrus. Also, the often-quoted lines of Aeschylus, Pers. 762-765, are in the simplest manner explained historically if by the work which the first Mede began and the second completed, and which yet brought all the glory to the third, viz., Cyrus, is understood the taking of Babylon; according to which Astyages is the first, Cyaxares II the second, and Cyrus the third, and Aeschylus agrees with Xenophon. Other interpretations, e.g., of Phraortes and Cyaxares I, agree with no single report. Finally, the Darics also give evidence for Darius the Mede, since of all explanations of the name of this gold coin (the Daric) its derivation from a king Darius is the most probable; and so also do the statements of the rhetorician Harpocration, the scholiast to Aristophanis Ecclesiaz. 589, and of Suidas, that the Δαρεικοί did not derive their name, as most suppose, from Darius the father of Xerxes, but from another and an older king (Darius), according to the declaration of Herodot. iv. 166, that Darius first struck this coin, which is not outweighed by his scanty knowledge of the more ancient history of the Medes and Persians.)
This result is not rendered doubtful by the fact that Xenophon calls this Median king Κυαξάρης and describes him as the son of Astyages, while, on the contrary, Daniel calls him Darjawesch (Darius) the son of Ahasuerus (Daniel 9:1). The name Κυαξάρης is the Median Uwakshatra, and means autocrat; ̓Αστυάγης corresponds to the Median Ajisdahâka, the name of the Median dynasty, meaning the biting serpent (cf. Nieb. Gesch. Assurs, p. 175f.). דּריושׁ, Δαρεῖος, the Persian Dârjawusch, rightly explained by Herod. vi. 98 by the word ἐρξείης, means the keeper, ruler; and אחשׁורושׁ, Ahasverus, as the name of Xerxes, in the Persian cuneiform inscriptions Kschajârschâ, is certainly formed, however one may interpret the name, from Kschaja, kingdom, the title of the Persian rulers, like the Median "Astyages." The names Cyaxares and Darjawesch are thus related to each other, and are the paternal names of both dynasties, or the titles of the rulers. Xenophon has communicated to us the Median name and title of the last king; Daniel gives, as it appears, the Persian name and title which Cyaxares, as king of the united Chaldean and Medo-Persian kingdom, received and bore.
The circumstances reported in this chapter occurred, according to the statement in v. 29a, in the first of the two years' reign of Darius over Babylon. The matter and object of this report are related to the events recorded in Daniel 3. As in that chapter Daniel's companions are condemned to be cast into the fiery furnace on account of their transgression of the royal commandment enjoining them to fall down before the golden image that had been set up by Nebuchadnezzar, so here in this chapter Daniel himself is cast into the den of lions because of his transgression of the command enjoining that prayer was to be offered to no other god, but to the king only. The motive of the accusation is, in the one case as in the other, envy on account of the high position which the Jews had reached in the kingdom, and the object of it was the driving of the foreigners from their influential offices. The wonderful deliverance also of the faithful worshippers of God from the death which threatened them, with the consequences of that deliverance, are alike in both cases. But along with these similarities there appear also differences altogether corresponding to the circumstances, which show that historical facts are here related to us, and not the products of a fiction formed for a purpose. In Daniel 3 Nebuchadnezzar requires all the subjects of his kingdom to do homage to the image he had set up, and to worship the gods of his kingdom, and his command affords to the enemies of the Jews the wished-for opportunity of accusing the friends of Daniel of disobedience to the royal will. In Daniel 6, on the other hand, Darius is moved and induced by his great officers of state, whose design was to set Daniel aside, to issue the edict there mentioned, and he is greatly troubled when he sees the application of the edict to the case of Daniel. The character of Darius is fundamentally different from that of Nebuchadnezzar. The latter was a king distinguished by energy and activity, a perfect autocrat; the former, a weak prince and wanting in energy, who allowed himself to be guided and governed by his state officers. The command of Nebuchadnezzar to do homage to his gods is the simple consequence of the supremacy of the ungodly world-power; the edict extorted from Darius, on the contrary, is a deification of the world-power for the purpose of oppressing the true servants of God. The former command only places the gods of the world-power above the living God of heaven and earth; the latter edict seeks wholly to set aside the recognition of this God, if only for a time, by forbidding prayer to be offered to Him. This tyranny of the servants of the world-power is more intolerable than the tyranny of the world-ruler.
Thus the history recorded in this chapter shows, on the one side, how the ungodly world-power in its progressive development assumes an aspect continually more hostile toward the kingdom of God, and how with the decrease of its power of action its hatred against the true servants of God increases; and it shows, on the other side, how the Almighty God not only protects His worshippers against all the intrigues and machinations of the enemy, but also requites the adversaries according to their deeds. Daniel was protected against the rage of the lions, while his enemies were torn by them to pieces as soon as they were cast into the den.
This miracle of divine power is so vexatious to the modern critics, that Bleek, v. Leng., Hitzig, and others have spared no pains to overthrow the historical trustworthiness of the narrative, and represent it as a fiction written with a design. Not only does the prohibition to offer any petition to any god or man except to the king for a month "not find its equal in absurdity," but the typology (Daniel an antitype of Joseph!) as well as the relation to Daniel 3 betray the fiction. Darius, it is true, does not show himself to be the type of Antiochus Epiphanes, also the command, Daniel 6:26 and Daniel 6:27, puts no restraint in reality on those concerned; but by the prohibition, Daniel 6:7, the free exercise of their religion is undoubtedly attacked, and such hostility against the faith found its realization for the first time only and everywhere in the epoch of Antiochus Epiphanes. Consequently, according to Hitzig, "the prohibition here is reflected from that of Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc. 1:41-50), and exaggerates it even to a caricature of it, for the purpose of placing clearly in the light the hatefulness of such tyranny."
On the contrary, the advocates of the genuineness of Daniel have conclusively shown that the prohibition referred to, Daniel 6:7, corresponds altogether to the religious views the Medo-Persians, while on the other hand it is out and out in contradiction to the circumstances of the times of the Maccabees. Thus, that the edict did not contemplate the removal or the uprooting of all religious worship except praying to the king, is clearly manifest not only in this, that the prohibition was to be enforced for one month only, but also in the intention which the magnates had in their eye, of thereby effecting certainly the overthrow of Daniel. The religious restraint which was thus laid upon the Jews for a month is very different from the continual rage of Antiochus Epiphanes against the Jewish worship of God. Again, not only is the character of Darius and his relation to Daniel, as the opponents themselves must confess, such as not to furnish a type in which Antiochus Epiphanes may be recognised, but the enemies of Daniel do not really become types of this tyrant; for they seek his overthrow not from religious antipathy, but, moved only by vulgar envy, they seek to cast him down from his lofty position in the state. Thus also in this respect the historical point of view of the hostility to Daniel as representing Judaism, is fundamentally different from that of the war waged by Antiochus against Judaism, so that this narrative is destitute of every characteristic mark of the Seleucidan-Maccabee aera. Cf. The further representation of this difference by Kranichfeld, p. 229ff. - The views of Hitzig will be met in our exposition.
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;(Daniel 5:31-6:9)
Transference of the kingdom to Darius the Mede; appointment of the regency; envy of the satraps against Daniel, and their attempt to destroy him.
The narrative of this chapter is connected by the copula ו with the occurrence recorded in the preceding; yet Daniel 6:1 does not, as in the old versions and with many interpreters, belong to the fifth chapter, but to the sixth, and forms not merely the bond of connection between the events narrated in the fifth and sixth chapters, but furnishes at the same time the historical basis for the following narrative, vv. 2-29 (vv. 1-28). The statement of the verse, that Darius the Mede received the kingdom when he was about sixty-two years old, connects itself essentially with Daniel 5:30, so far as it joins to the fulfilment, there reported, of the first part of the sacred writing interpreted by Daniel to Belshazzar, the fulfilment also the second part of that writing, but not so closely that the designation of time, in that same night (Daniel 5:30), is applicable also to the fact mentioned in Daniel 6:1 (Daniel 5:31), and as warranting the supposition that the transference of the kingdom to Darius the Mede took place on the night in which Belshazzar was slain. Against such a chronological connection of these two verses, Daniel 5:30 and Daniel 6:1 (Daniel 5:31), we adduce in the second half of v. 1((Daniel 5:31) the statement of the age of Darius, in addition to the reasons already adduced. This is not to make it remarkable that, instead of the young mad debauchee (Belshazzar), with whom, according to prophecy, the Chaldean bondage of Israel was brought to an end, a man of mature judgment seized the reigns of government (Delitzsch); for this supposition fails not only with the hypothesis, already confuted, on which it rests, but is quite foreign to the text, for Darius in what follows does not show himself to be a ruler of matured experience. The remark of Kliefoth has much more in its favour, that by the statement of the age it is designed to be made prominent that the government of Darius the Mede did not last long, soon giving place to that of Cyrus the Persian, v. 29 (Daniel 6:28), whereby the divine writing, that the Chaldean kingdom would be given to the Medes and Persians, was fully accomplished. Regarding Darjawesch, Darius, see the preliminary remarks. The addition of מדיא (Kethiv) forms on the one hand a contrast to the expression "the king of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 5:30), and on the other it points forward to פּרסיא, v. 29 (Daniel 6:28); it, however, furnishes no proof that Daniel distinguished the Median kingdom from the Persian; for the kingdom is not called a Median kingdom, but it is only said of Darius that he was of Median descent, and, v. 29 (Daniel 6:28), that Cyrus the Persian succeeded him in the kingdom. In קבּל, he received the kingdom, it is indicated that Darius did not conquer it, but received it from the conqueror. The כ in כבר intimates that the statement of the age rests only on a probable estimate.
For the government of the affairs of the kingdom he had received, and especially for regulating the gathering in of the tribute of the different provinces, Darius placed 120 satraps over the whole kingdom, and over these satraps three chiefs, to whom the satraps should give an account. Regarding אחשׁדּרפּניּא (satraps), see at Daniel 3:2. סרכין, plur. of סרך; סרכא has in the Semitic no right etymology, and is derived from the Aryan, from the Zend. sara, ara, head, with the syllable ach. In the Targg., in use for the Hebr. שׁטר, it denotes a president, of whom the three named in Daniel 6:2 (1), by their position over the satraps, held the rank of chief governors or ministers, for which the Targg. use סרכן, while סרכין in Daniel 6:8 denotes all the military and civil prefects of the kingdom.
The modern critics have derived from this arrangement for the government of the kingdom made by Darius an argument against the credibility of the narrative, which Hitzig has thus formulated: - According to Xenophon, Cyrus first appointed satraps over the conquered regions, and in all to the number of six (Cyrop. viii. 6, 1, 7); according to the historian Herodotus, on the contrary (iii. 89ff.), Darius Hystaspes first divided the kingdom into twenty satrapies for the sake of the administration of the taxes. With this statement agrees the number of the peoples mentioned on the Inscription at Bisutun; and if elsewhere (Insc. J. and Nakschi Rustam) at least twenty-four and also twenty-nine are mentioned, we know that several regions or nations might be placed under one satrap (Herod. l.c.). The kingdom was too small for 120 satraps in the Persian sense. On the other hand, one may not appeal to the 127 provinces (מדינות) of king Ahasuerus equals Xerxes (Esther 1:1; Esther 9:30); for the ruler of the מדינה is not the same as (Esther 8:9) the satrap. In Esther 3:12 it is the פּחה, as e.g., of the province of Judah (Haggai 1:1; Malachi 1:8; Nehemiah 5:14). It is true there were also greater provinces, such e.g., as of Media and Babylonia (Ezra 6:2; Daniel 2:49), and perhaps also pecha (פּחה) might be loosely used to designate a satrap (Ezra 5:3; Ezra 6:6); yet the 127 provinces were not such, nor is a satrap interchangeably called a pecha. When Daniel thus mentions so large a number of satraps, it is the Grecian satrapy that is apparently before his mind. Under Seleucus Nicator there were seventy-two of these.
The foundation of this argument, viz., that Darius Hystaspes, "according to the historian Herodotus," first divided the kingdom into satrapies, and, of course, also that the statement by Xenophon of the sending of six satraps into the countries subdued by Cyrus is worthy of no credit, is altogether unhistorical, resting only on the misinterpretation and distortion of the testimonies adduced. Neither Herodotus nor Xenophon represents the appointment of satraps by Cyrus and Darius as an entirely new and hitherto untried method of governing the kingdom; still less does Xenophon say that Cyrus sent in all only six satraps into the subjugated countries. It is true he mentions by name (Daniel 8:6-7) only six satraps, but he mentions also the provinces into which they were sent, viz., one to Arabia, and the other five to Asia Minor, with the exception, however, of Cilicia, Cyprus, and Paphlagonia, to which he did not send any Πέρσας σατράπας, because they had voluntarily joined him in fighting against Babylon. Hence it is clear as noonday that Xenophon speaks only of those satraps whom Cyrus sent to Asia Minor and to Arabia, and says nothing of the satrapies of the other parts of the kingdom, such as Judea, Syria, Babylonia, Assyria, Media, etc., so that no one can affirm that Cyrus sent in all only six satraps into the conquered countries. As little does Herodotus, l.c., say that Darius Hystaspes was the first to introduce the government of the kingdom by satraps: he only says that Darius Hystaspes divided the whole kingdom into twenty ἀρχαί which were called σατραπηΐ́αι, appointed ἄρχοντες, and regulated the tribute; for he numbers these satrapies simply with regard to the tribute with which each was chargeable, while under Cyrus and Cambyses no tribute was imposed, but presents only were contributed. Consequently, Herod. speaks only of a regulation for the administration of the different provinces of the kingdom for the special purpose of the certain payment of the tribute which Darius Hystaspes had appointed. Thus the historian M. Duncker also understands this statement; for he says (Gesch. des Alterth. ii. p. 891) regarding it: - "About the year 515 Darius established fixed government-districts in place of the vice-regencies which Cyrus and Cambyses had appointed and changed according to existing exigencies. He divided the kingdom into twenty satrapies." Then at p. 893 he further shows how this division also of the kingdom by Darius was not fixed unchangeably, but was altered according to circumstances. Hitzig's assertion, that the kingdom was too small for 120 satrapies in the Persian sense, is altogether groundless. From Esther 8:9 and Esther 8:3 :19 it follows not remotely, that not satraps but the פחות represent the מדינות. In Daniel 8:9 satraps, פחות, and המדינות שׂרי are named, and in Daniel 3:12 they are called the king's satraps and מדינה על אשׁר פחות. On Esther 3:12 Bertheau remarks: "The pechas, who are named along with the satraps, are probably the officers of the circles within the separate satrapies;" and in Daniel 8:9 satraps and pechas are named as המדינות שׂרי, i.e., presidents, superintendents of the 127 provinces of the kingdom from India to Ethiopia, from which nothing can be concluded regarding the relation of the satraps to the pechas. Berth. makes the same remark on Ezra 8:36 : - "The relation of the king's satraps to the pachavoth abar nahara (governors on this side the river) we cannot certainly determine; the former were probably chiefly military rulers, and the latter government officials." For the assertion that pecha is perhaps loosely used for satrap, but that interchangeably a satrap cannot be called a pecha, rests, unproved, on the authority of Hitzig.
From the book of Esther it cannot certainly be proved that so many satraps were placed over the 127 provinces into which Xerxes divided the kingdom, but only that these provinces were ruled by satraps and pechas. But the division of the whole kingdom into 127 provinces nevertheless shows that the kingdom might have been previously divided under Darius the Mede into 120 provinces, whose prefects might be called in this verse אחשׁדּרפּנין, i.e., kschatrapavan, protectors of the kingdom or of the provinces, since this title is derived from the Sanscrit and Old Persian, and is not for the first time used under Darius Hystaspes of Cyrus. The Median Darius might be led to appoint one satrap, i.e., a prefect clothed with military power, over each district of his kingdom, since the kingdom was but newly conquered, that he might be able at once to suppress every attempt at insurrection among the nations coming under his dominion. The separation of the civil government, particularly in the matter of the raising of tribute, from the military government, or the appointment of satraps οἱ τὸν δασμὸν λαμβάνοντες κ.τ.λ., along with the φρούραρχοι and the χιλίαρχοι, for the protection of the boundaries of the kingdom, was first adopted, according to Xenophon l.c., by Cyrus, who next appointed satraps for the provinces of Asia Minor and of Arabia, which were newly brought under his sceptre; while in the older provinces which had formed the Babylonian kingdom, satrapies which were under civil and military rulers already existed from the time of Nebuchadnezzar; cf. Daniel 2:32. This arrangement, then, did not originate with Darius Hystaspes in the dividing of the whole kingdom into twenty satrapies mentioned by Herodotus. Thus the statements of Herodotus and Xenophon harmonize perfectly with those of the Scriptures, and every reason for regarding with suspicion the testimony of Daniel wholly fails.Daniel 6:2-3 (Daniel 6:1-2)
According to v. 2, Darius not only appointed 120 satraps for all the provinces and districts of his kingdom, but he also placed the whole body of the satraps under a government consisting of three presidents, who should reckon with the individual satraps. עלּא, in the Targg. עילא, the height, with the adverb מן, higher than, above. טעמא יהב, to give reckoning, to account. נזק, part. of נזק, to suffer loss, particularly with reference to the revenue. This triumvirate, or higher authority of three, was also no new institution by Darius, but according to Daniel 5:7, already existed in the Chaldean kingdom under Belshazzar, and was only continued by Darius; and the satraps or the district rulers of the several provinces of the kingdom were subordinated to them. Daniel was one of the triumvirate. Since it is not mentioned that Darius first appointed him to this office, we may certainly conclude that he only confirmed him in the office to which Belshazzar had promoted him.
And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.
Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.In this situation Daniel excelled all the presidents and satraps. אתנצּח, to show one's self prominent. Regarding his excellent spirit, cf. Daniel 5:12. On that account the king thought to set him over the whole kingdom, i.e., to make him chief ruler of the kingdom, to make him למּלך משׁנה (Esther 10:3). עשׁית for עשׁת, intrans. form of the Peal, to think, to consider about anything. This intention of the king stirred up the envy of the other presidents and of the satraps, so that they sought to find an occasion against Daniel, that he might be cast down. עלּה, an occasion; here, as αἰτία, John 18:38; Matthew 27:37, an occasion for impeachment, מלוּתא מצּד, on the part of the kingdom, i.e., not merely in a political sense, but with regard to his holding a public office in the kingdom, with reference to his service. But since they could find no occasion against Daniel in this respect, for he was מהימן, faithful, to be relied on, and no fault could be charged against him, they sought occasion against him on the side of his particular religion, in the matter of the law of his God, i.e., in his worship of God.
Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.For this end they induced the king to sanction and ratify with all the forms of law a decree, which they contrived as the result of the common consultation of all the high officers, that for thirty days no man in the kingdom should offer a prayer to any god or man except to the king, on pain of being cast into the den of lions, and to issue this command as a law of the Medes and Persians, i.e., as an irrevocable law. הרגּשׁ, from רגשׁ to make a noise, to rage, in Aphel c. על, to assail one in a tumultuous manner, i.e., to assault him. "These presidents and satraps (princes)," v. 7 (Daniel 6:6), in v. 6 (Daniel 6:5) designated "these men," and not the whole body of the presidents and satraps, are, according to v. 5 (Daniel 6:4), the special enemies of Daniel, who wished to overthrow him. It was only a definite number of them who may have had occasion to be dissatisfied with Daniel's service. The words of the text do not by any means justify the supposition that the whole council of state assembled, and in corpore presented themselves before the king (Hvernick); for neither in v. 5 (Daniel 6:4) nor in v. 7 (Daniel 6:6) is mention made of all (כּל) the presidents and satraps. From the fact also that these accusers of Daniel, v. 25 (Daniel 6:24), represent to the king that the decree they had framed was the result of a consultation of all the prefects of the kingdom, it does not follow that all the satraps and chief officers of the whole kingdom had come to Babylon in order, as Dereser thinks, to lay before the three overseers the annual account of their management of the affairs of their respective provinces, on which occasion they took counsel together against Daniel; from which circumstance Hitzig and others derive an argument against the historical veracity of the narrative. The whole connection of the narrative plainly shows that the authors of the accusation deceived the king. The council of state, or the chief court, to which all the satraps had to render an account, consisted of three men, of whom Daniel was one. But Daniel certainly was not called to this consultation; therefore their pretence, that all "presidents of the kingdom" had consulted on the matter, was false. Besides, they deceived the king in this, that they concealed from him the intention of the decree, or misled him regarding it. אתיעט means not merely that they consulted together, but it includes the result of the consultation: they were of one mind (Hitz.).
All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellers, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.מלוּתא סרכי כּל does not denote the three presidents named in v. 3((2), but all the prefects of the kingdom, of whom there were four classes, as is acknowledged by Chr. B. Michaelis, though Hitz. opposes this view. Such an interpretation is required by the genitive מלוּתא, and by the absence of כל, or at least of the copula ו, before the official names that follow; while the objection, that by this interpretation just the chief presidents who are principally concerned are omitted (Hitz.), is without foundation, for they are comprehended under the word סגניּא. If we compare the list of the four official classes here mentioned with that of the great officers of state under Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 3:2, the naming of the סגניּא before the אחשׁדּרפּניּא, satraps) (which in Daniel 3:2 they are named after them) shows that the סגניּא are here great officers to whom the satraps were subordinate, and that only the three סרכין could be meant to whom the satraps had to render an account. Moreover, the list of four names is divided by the copula וinto two classes. To the first class belong the סגניּא and the satraps; to the second the הדּברין, state councillors, and the פּחותא, civil prefects of the provinces. Accordingly, we will scarcely err of by סגניּא we understand the members of the highest council of state, by הדּבריּא the ministers or members of the (lower) state council, and by the satraps and pechas the military and civil rulers of the provinces. This grouping of the names confirms, consequently, the general interpretation of the מלוּתא סרכי כּל, for the four classes named constitute the entire chief prefecture of the kingdom. This interpretation is not made questionable by the fact that the סרכין had in the kingdom of Darius a different position from that they held in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar; for in this respect each kingdom had its own particular arrangement, which underwent manifold changes according to the times.
The infinitive clause וגו קים לקיּמא presents the conclusion arrived at by the consultation. מלכּא is not the genitive to קים, but according to the accents and the context is the subject of the infinitive clause: that the king should appoint a statute, not that a royal statute should be appointed. According to the analogy of the pronoun and of the dimin. noun, the accusative is placed before the subject-genitive, as e.g. Isaiah 20:1; Isaiah 5:24, so as not to separate from one another the קים קיּמא (to establish a statute) and the אסר תּקּפה (to make a firm decree). Daniel 6:9 requires this construction. It is the king who issues the decree, and not his chief officers of state, as would have been the case if מלכּא were construed as the genitive to קים ot evit. קים, manifesto, ordinance, command. The command is more accurately defined by the parallel clause אסר תּקּפה, to make fast, i.e., to decree a prohibition. The officers wished that the king should issue a decree which should contain a binding prohibition, i.e., it should forbid, on pain of death, any one for the space of thirty days, i.e., for a month, to offer any prayer to a god or man except to the king. בּעוּ is here not any kind of request or supplication, but prayer, as the phrase v. 14 (Daniel 6:13), בּעוּתהּ בּעא, directing his prayer, shows. The word ואנשׁ does not prove the contrary, for the heathen prayed also to men (cf. Daniel 2:46); and here the clause, except to the king, places together god and man, so that the king might not observe that the prohibition was specially directed against Daniel.
Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.In order that they may more certainly gain their object, they request the king to put the prohibition into writing, so that it might not be changed, i.e., might not be set aside or recalled, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, in conformity with which an edict once emitted by the king in all due form, i.e., given in writing and sealed with the king's seal, was unchangeable; cf. Daniel 6:15 and Esther 8:8; Esther 1:19. תעדּא לא דּי, which cannot pass away, i.e., cannot be set aside, is irrevocable. The relative דּי refers to דּת, by which we are not to understand, with v. Lengerke, the entire national law of the Medes and Persians, as if this were so unalterable that no law could be disannulled or changed according to circumstances, but דּת is every separate edict of the king emitted in the form of law. This remains unchangeable and irrevocable, because the king was regarded and honoured as the incarnation of deity, who is unerring and cannot change.
Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.The king carried out the proposal. ואסרא is explicative: the writing, namely, the prohibition (spoken of); for this was the chief matter, therefore אסרא alone is here mentioned, and not also קים (edict), Daniel 6:8.
The right interpretation of the subject-matter and of the foundation of the law which was sanctioned by the king, sets aside the objection that the prohibition was a senseless "bedlamite" law (v. Leng.), which instead of regulating could only break up all society. The law would be senseless only if the prohibition had related to every petition in common life in the intercourse of civil society. But it only referred to the religious sphere of prayer, as an evidence of worshipping God; and if the king was venerated as an incarnation of the deity, then it was altogether reasonable in its character. And if we consider that the intention of the law, which they concealed from the king, was only to effect Daniel's overthrow, the law cannot be regarded as designed to press Parsism or the Zend religion on all the nations of the kingdom, or to put an end to religious freedom, or to make Parsism the world-religion. Rather, as Kliefoth has clearly and justly shown, "the object of the law was only to bring about the general recognition of the principle that the king was the living manifestation of all the gods, not only of the Median and Persian, but also of the Babylonian and Lydian, and all the gods of the conquered nations. It is therefore also not correct that the king should be represented as the incarnation of Ormuzd. The matter is to be explained not from Parsism alone, but from heathenism in general. According to the general fundamental principle of heathenism, the ruler is the son, the representative, the living manifestation of the people's gods, and the world-ruler thus the manifestation of all the gods of the nations that were subject to him. Therefore all heathen world-rulers demanded from the heathen nations subdued by them, that religious homage should be rendered to them in the manner peculiar to each nation. Now that is what was here sought. All the nations subjected to the Medo-Persian kingdom were required not to abandon their own special worship rendered to their gods, but in fact to acknowledge that the Medo-Persian world-ruler Darius was also the son and representative of their national gods. For this purpose they must for the space of thirty days present their petitions to their national gods only in him as their manifestation. And the heathen nations could all do this without violating their consciences; for since in their own manner they served the Median king as the son of their gods, they served their gods in him. The Jews, however, were not in the condition of being able to regard the king as a manifestation of Jehovah, and thus for them there was involved in the law truly a religious persecution, although the heathen king and his satraps did not thereby intend religious persecution, but regarded such disobedience as only culpable obstinacy and political rebellion."
(Note: Brissonius, De regio Persarum princ. p. 17ff., has collected the testimonies of the ancients to the fact that the Persian kings laid claim to divine honour. Persas reges suos inter Deos colere, majestatem enim imperii salutis esse tutelam. Curtius, viii. 5. 11. With this cf. Plutarch, Themist. c. 27. And that this custom, which even Alexander the Great (Curt. vi. 6. 2) followed, was derived from the Medes, appears from the statement of Herodotus, i. 99, that Dejoces περὶ ἑαυτὸν σεμνύειν, withdrew his royal person from the view of men. The ancient Egyptians and Ethiopians paid divine honours to their kings, according to Diod. Sic. i. 90, iii. 3, 5; and it is well known that the Roman emperors required that their images should be worshipped with religious veneration.)
The religious persecution to which this law subjected the Jews was rendered oppressive by this: that the Jews were brought by it into this situation, that for a whole month they must either omit prayer to God, and thus sin against their God, or disregard the king's prohibition. The satraps had thus rightly formed their plan. Since without doubt they were aware of Daniel's piety, they could by this means hope with certainty to gain their object in his overthrow. There is no ground for rejecting the narrative in the fact that Darius, without any suspicion, gave their contrivance the sanction of law. We do not need, on the contrary, to refer to the indolence of so many kings, who permit themselves to be wholly guided by their ministers, although the description we have of Cyaxares II by Xenophon accords very well with this supposition; for from the fact that Darius appears to have sanctioned the law without further consideration about it, it does not follow that he did not make inquiry concerning the purpose of the plan formed by the satraps. The details of the intercourse of the satraps with the king concerning the occasion and object of the law Daniel has not recorded, for they had no significance in relation to the main object of the narrative. If the satraps represented to the king the intention of compelling, by this law, all the nationalities that were subject to his kingdom to recognise his royal power and to prove their loyalty, then the propriety of this design would so clearly recommend itself to him, that without reflection he gave it the sanction of law.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.(Daniel 6:10-24)
Daniel's offence against the law; his accusation, condemnation, and miraculous deliverance from the den of lions; and the punishment of his accusers.
The satraps did not wait long for Daniel's expected disregard of the king's prohibition. It was Daniel's custom, on bended knees, three times a day to offer prayer to his God in the upper chamber of his house, the window thereof being open towards Jerusalem. He continued this custom even after the issuing of the edict; for a discontinuance of it on account of that law would have been a denying of the faith and a sinning against God. On this his enemies had reckoned. They secretly watched him, and immediately reported his disregard of the king's command. In Daniel 6:10 the place where he was wont to pray is more particularly described, in order that it might be shown how they could observe him. In the upper chamber of his house (עלּית, Hebr. עליּה, 1 Kings 17:19; 2 Samuel 19:1), which was wont to be resorted to when one wished to be undisturbed, e.g., wished to engage in prayer (cf. Acts 1:13; Acts 10:9), the windows were open, i.e., not closed with lattice-work (cf. Ezekiel 40:16), opposite to, i.e., in the direction of, Jerusalem. להּ does not refer to Daniel: he had opened windows, but to לביתהּ: his house had open windows. If להּ referred to Daniel, then the הוּא following would be superfluous. The custom of turning in prayer toward Jerusalem originated after the building of the temple at Jerusalem as the dwelling-place of Jehovah; cf. 1 Kings 8:33, 1 Kings 8:35; Psalm 5:8; Psalm 28:2. The offering of prayer three times a day, - namely, at the third, sixth, and ninth hour, i.e., at the time of the morning and the evening sacrifices and at mid-day, - was not first introduced by the men of the Great Synagogue, to whom the uncritical rabbinical tradition refers all ancient customs respecting the worship of God, nor is the opinion of v. Leng., Hitz., and others, that it is not of later origin than the time of the Median Darius, correct; but its origin is to be traced back to the times of David, for we find the first notice of it in Psalm 55:18. If Daniel thus continued to offer prayer daily (מודא equals מהודא, Daniel 2:23) at the open window, directing his face toward Jerusalem, after the promulgation of the law, just as he had been in the habit of doing before it, then there was neither ostentation nor pharisaic hypocrisy, nor scorn and a tempting of God, as Kirmiss imagines; but his conduct was the natural result of his fear of God and of his religion, under the influence of which he offered prayers not to make an outward show, for only secret spies could observe him when so engaged. דּי כּל־קבל does not mean altogether so as (Rosenmller, v. Leng., Maur., Hitzig), but, as always, on this account because, because. Because he always did thus, so now he continues to do it.
Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.When Daniel's enemies had secretly observed him prayer, they rushed into the house while he was offering his supplications, that they might apprehend him in the very act and be able to bring him to punishment. That the act of watching him is not particularly mentioned, since it is to be gathered from the context, does not make the fact itself doubtful, if one only does not arbitrarily, with Hitzig, introduce all kinds of pretences for throwing suspicion on the narrative; as e.g., by inquiring whether the 122 satraps had placed themselves in ambush; why Daniel had not guarded against them, had not shut himself in; and the lie. הרגּישׁ, as Daniel 6:7, to rush forward, to press in eagerly, here "shows the greatness of the zeal with which they performed their business" (Kran.).
They immediately accused him to the king. Reminding the king of the promulgation of the prohibition, they showed him that Daniel, one of the captive Jews, had not regarded the king's command, but had continued during the thirty days to pray to his own God, and thus had violated the law. In this accusation they laid against Daniel, we observe that his accusers do not describe him as one standing in office near to the king, but only as one of a foreign nation, one of the Jewish exiles in Babylon, in order that they may thereby bring his conduct under the suspicion of being a political act of rebellion against the royal authority.
Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.
Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.But the king, who knew and highly valued (cf. v. 2[) Daniel's fidelity to the duties of his office, was so sore displeased by the accusation, that he laboured till the going down of the sun to effect his deliverance. The verb באשׁ has an intransitive meaning: to be evil, to be displeased, and is not joined into one sentence with the subject מלכּא, which stands here absolute; and the subject to עלוהי באשׁ is undefined: it, namely, the matter displeased him; cf. Genesis 21:11. בּל שׂם corresponds to the Hebr. לב שׁית, Proverbs 22:17, to lay to heart. The word בּל, cor, mens, is unknown in the later Chaldee, but is preserved in the Syr. bālā̀ and the Arab. bâlun.
When the king could not till the going down of the sun resolve on passing sentence against Daniel, about this time his accusers gathered themselves together into his presence for the purpose of inducing him to carry out the threatened punishment, reminding him that, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, every prohibition and every command which the king decreed (יהקים), i.e., issued in a legal form, could not be changed, i.e., could not be recalled. There being no way of escape out of the difficulty for the king, he had to give the command that the punishment should be inflicted, and Daniel was cast into the den of lions, v. 17 (Daniel 6:16). On the Aphel היתיו, and the pass. from (Daniel 6:17) היתית, see at Daniel 3:13. The execution of the sentence was carried out, according to Oriental custom, on the evening of the day in which the accusation was made; this does not, however, imply that it was on the evening in which, at the ninth hour, he had prayed, as Hitzig affirms, in order that he may thereby make the whole matter improbable. In giving up Daniel to punishment, the king gave expression to the wish, "May thy God whom thou servest continually, deliver thee!" not "He will deliver thee;" for Darius could not have this confidence, but he may have had the feeble hope of the possibility of the deliverance which from his heart he wished, inasmuch as he may have heard of the miracles of the Almighty God whom Daniel served in the days of Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar.
Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.
Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.After Daniel had been thrown into the lions' den, its mouth was covered with a flat stone, and the stone was sealed with the king's seal and that of the great officers of state, that nothing might change or be changed (בּּדּניּאל צבוּ) concerning Daniel (צבוּ, affair, matter), not that the device against Daniel might not be frustrated (Hv., v. Leng., Maur., Klief.). This thought required the stat. emphat. צנוּתא, and also does not correspond with the application of a double seal. The old translator Theodot. is correct in his rendering: ὅπως μὴ ἀλλοιωθῇ πρᾶγμα ἐν τῷ Δανιήλ, and the lxx paraphrasing: ὅπως μὴ απ ̓αὐτῶν (μεγιστάνων) αρθῇ ὁ Δανιήλ, ἤ ὁ βασιλεύς αὐτὸν ἀνασπάσῃ ἐκ τοῦ λακκοῦ. Similarly also Ephr. Syr. and others.
The den of lions is designated by גּבּא, which the Targg. use for the Hebr. בור, a cistern. From this v. Leng., Maur., and Hitzig infer that the writer had in view a funnel-shaped cistern dug out in the ground, with a moderately small opening or mouth from above, which could be covered with a stone, so that for this one night the lions had to be shut in, while generally no stone lay on the opening. The pit also into which Joseph, the type of Daniel, was let down was a cistern (Genesis 37:24), and the mouth of the cistern was usually covered with a stone (Genesis 29:3; Lamentations 3:53). It can hence scarcely be conceived how the lions, over which no angel watched, could have remained in such a subterranean cavern covered with a stone. "The den must certainly have been very capacious if, as it appears, 122 men with their wives and children could have been thrown into it immediately after one another (v. 25 [Daniel 6:24]); but this statement itself only shows again the deficiency of every view of the matter," - and thus the whole history is a fiction fabricated after the type of the history of Joseph! But these critics who speak thus have themselves fabricated the idea of the throwing into the den of 122 men with women and children - for the text states no number - in order that they might make the whole narrative appear absurd.
We have no account by the ancients of the construction of lions' dens. Ge. Hst, in his work on Fez and Morocco, p. 77, describes the lions' dens as they have been found in Morocco. According to his account, they consist of a large square cavern under the earth, having a partition-wall in the middle of it, which is furnished with a door, which the keeper can open and close from above. By throwing in food they can entice the lions from the one chamber into the other, and then, having shut the door, they enter the vacant space for the purpose of cleaning it. The cavern is open above, its mouth being surrounded by a wall of a yard and a half high, over which one can look down into the den. This description agrees perfectly with that which is here given in the text regarding the lions' den. Finally, גּבּא does not denote common cisterns. In Jeremiah 41:7, Jeremiah 41:9, גּוּבא (Hebr. בור) is a subterranean chamber into which seventy dead bodies were cast; in Isaiah 14:15, the place of Sheol is called גּוב. No reason, therefore, exists for supposing that it is a funnel-formed cistern. The mouth (פּוּם) of the den is not its free opening above by which one may look down into it, but an opening made in its side, through which not only the lions were brought into it, but by which also the keepers entered for the purpose of cleansing the den and of attending to the beasts, and could reach the door in the partition-wall (cf. Hst, p. 270). This opening was covered with a great flat stone, which was sealed, the free air entering to the lions from above. This also explains how, according to Daniel 6:20 ff., the king was able to converse with Daniel before the removal of the stone (namely, by the opening above).
Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were any of his concubines brought before him; and this sleep went from him. The king spent a sleepless night in sorrow on account of Daniel. טות, used adverbially, in fasting, i.e., without partaking of food in the evening. דּחוה, concubina; cf. The Arab. dahâ and dahâ equals , subigere faeminam, and Gesen. Thes. p. 333. On the following morning (v. 20 [Daniel 6:19]) the king rose early, at the dawn of day, and went to the den of lions, and with lamentable voice called to him feebly hoping that Daniel might be delivered by his God whom he continually served. Daniel answered the king, thereby showing that he had been preserved; whereupon the king was exceeding glad. The future or imperf. יקוּם (Daniel 6:19) is not to be interpreted with Kranichfeld hypothetically, he thought to rise early, seeing he did actually rise early, but is used instead of the perf. to place the clause in relation to the following, meaning: the king, as soon as he arose at morning dawn, went hastily by the early light. בּנגהא, at the shining of the light, serves for a nearer determination of the בּשׁפרפּרא, at the morning dawn, namely, as soon as the first rays of the rising sun appeared. The predicate the living God is occasioned by the preservation of life, which the king regarded as possible, and probably was made known to the king in previous conversations with Daniel; cf. Psalm 42:3; Psalm 84:3; 1 Samuel 17:36, etc.
In his answer Daniel declares his innocence, which God had recognised, and on that account had sent His angel (cf. Psalm 34:8; Psalm 91:11.) to shut the mouths of the lions; cf. Hebrews 10:33. ואף, and also (concluding from the innocence actually testified to by God) before the king, i.e., according to the king's judgment, he had done nothing wrong or hurtful. By his transgression of the edict he had not done evil against the king's person. This Daniel could the more certainly say, the more he perceived how the king was troubled and concerned about his preservation, because in Daniel's transgression he himself had seen no conspiracy against his person, but only fidelity toward his own God. The king hereupon immediately gave command that he should be brought out of the den of lions. The Aph. הנסקה and the Hoph. הסּק, to not come from נסק, but from סלק; the נis merely compensative. סלק, to mount up, Aph. to bring out; by which, however, we are not to understand a being drawn up by ropes through the opening of the den from above. The bringing out was by the opened passage in the side of the den, for which purpose the stone with the seals was removed. To make the miracle of his preservation manifest, and to show the reason of it, v. 24 (Daniel 6:23) states that Daniel was found without any injury, because he had trusted in his God.
Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.But now the destruction which the accusers of Daniel thought to bring upon him fell upon themselves. The king commanded that they should be cast into the den of lions, where immediately, before they had reached the bottom, they were seized and torn to pieces by the lions. On קרצוהי אכל see at Daniel 3:8. By the accusers we are not (with Hitzig) to think of the 120 satraps together with the two chief presidents, but only of a small number of the special enemies of Daniel who had concerned themselves with the matter. The condemning to death of the wives and children along with the men was in accordance with Persian custom, as is testified by Herodotus, iii. 119, Amm. Marcell. xxiii. 6. 81, and also with the custom of the Macedonians in the case of treason (Curtius, vi. ii.), but was forbidden in the law of Moses; cf. Deuteronomy 24:16.
Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.(Daniel 6:25-27)
The consequences of this occurrence.
As Nebuchadnezzar, after the wonderful deliverance of Daniel's friends from the burning fiery furnace, issued an edict to all the nations of his kingdom forbidding them on pain of death from doing any injury to these men of God (Daniel 3:29), so now Darius, in consequence of this wonderful preservation of Daniel in the den of lions, gave forth an edict commanding all the nations of his whole kingdom to fear and reverence Daniel's God. But as Nebuchadnezzar by his edict, so also Darius, did not depart from the polytheistic standpoint. Darius acknowledged the God of Daniel, indeed, as the living God, whose kingdom and dominion were everlasting, but not as the only true God, and he commanded Him to be reverenced only as a God who does wonders in heaven and on earth, without prejudice to the honour of his own gods and of the gods of his subjects. Both of these kings, it is true, raised the God of Judea above all other gods, and praised the everlasting duration of His dominion (see Daniel 3:29, 32 [Daniel 4:2]f., and Daniel 3:31 [Daniel 3:28]ff., Daniel 6:27 [Daniel 6:26]f.), but they did not confess Him as the one only God. This edict, the, shows neither the conversion of Darius to the worship of the God of the Jews, nor does it show intolerance toward the gods of his subjects. On v. 26 (Daniel 6:25) cf. Daniel 3:31 (Daniel 4:1). As Nebuchadnezzar, so also Darius, regarded his kingdom as a world-kingdom. On 27a (Daniel 6:26) cf. Daniel 3:29. The reverence which all the nations were commanded to show to Daniel's God is described in the same words as is the fear and reverence which the might and greatness of Nebuchadnezzar inspired in all the nations that were subject to him (Daniel 5:19), which has led Hitzig justly to remark, that the words לאלההּ פּלחין להון (they must worship his God) are not used. God is described as living (cf. v. 21 [Daniel 6:20]) and eternal, with which is connected the praise of the everlasting duration of His dominion, and of His rule in heaven and on earth; cf. Daniel 2:44 and Daniel 3:33 (Daniel 4:3). The דּי after מלכוּתהּ is not a conjunction, but is the relative, and the expression briefly denotes that His kingdom is a kingdom which is not destroyed; cf. Daniel 4:31 (Daniel 4:34). סופא עד, to the end - not merely of all heathen kingdoms which arise on the earth, i.e., to their final destruction by the kingdom of the Messiah, Daniel 2:44 (Kranichfeld), for there is no thought of the Messiah, Daniel 2:44 (Kranichfeld), for there is no thought of the Messianic kingdom here at all, but to the end of all things, to eternity. In v. 28 (Daniel 6:27) this God is lauded as the deliverer and wonder-worker, because in the case of Daniel He had showed Himself as such; cf. Daniel 3:32 (Daniel 4:2). יד מן, from the hand, i.e., from the power of; cf. Psalm 22:21.
I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.(Daniel 6:28)
Verse 29 (v. 28) closes the narrative in the same way as that regarding the deliverance of Daniel's friends (Daniel 3:30); only it is further stated, that Daniel continued in office till the reign of the Persian Cyrus. By the pronoun דּנה, this Daniel, the identity of the person is accentuated: the same Daniel, whom his enemies wished to destroy, prospered. From the repetition of בּמלכוּת before כּורשׁ it does not follow that Daniel separates the Persian kingdom from the Median; for מלכוּ here does not mean kingdom, but dominion, i.e., reign. The succession of the reign of Cyrus the Persian to that of Darius the Median does not show the diversity of the two kingdoms, but only that the rulers of the kingdom were of different races.