Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 24: Daniel, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
THE THIRD YEAR OF KING JEHOIAKIM.
A Correct idea of the scope and interpretation of these prophecies cannot be obtained without a due attention to the chronology of the events recorded. Hence, throughout these Dissertations it will be necessary to discuss some apparently unimportant points, and to combat some seemingly harmless opinions. We are thus compelled to enter into details which some may pronounce devoid of interest, but which will prove worth the labor bestowed upon them.
The necessity for comment on this first verse arises from the difficulty of reconciling its statement with the twenty-fifth chapter of Jeremiah. The relation of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar must be harmonized with those of the three last kings of Judah, to enable us to reconcile Daniel and Jeremiah. We must first ascertain the historical events which concern Jehoiakim, and fix their dates by comparing the Books of Kings and Chronicles, and the various allusions to him in Ezekiel and other prophets. Next, we must accurately define the events of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign; and afterwards so compare them as to draw a correct inference from the whole, notwithstanding much apparent discrepancy. This has been done by some commentators, the results of whose labors will here, be placed before the reader. Willet’s remark on Calvin is worthy of notice: “Calvin thinketh to dissolve this knot by the distinction of Nebuchadnezzar the father, and Nebuchadnezzar the son; that in one place the one is spoken of, and the other in the other, but the question is not concerning the year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, but the year of Jehoiakim’s reign wherein Jerusalem should be besieged; so that the doubt remaineth still.” 321 He also answers Calvin’s solution, by referring Nebuchadnezzar’s second year not to the period of his reign, but “rather to the time of Daniel’s ministry and employment with the king, that in the second year of his service he expounded the king’s dream.” Many learned Jews are of opinion that the last year of Jehoiakim’s reign is intended, meaning the last of his independent sovereignty, since they treat him in former years as simply a tributary king to either the Egyptians or Babylonians. Josephus in his Antiq., (Book 10:6,) is supposed to favor this theory; for he places Nebuchadnezzar’s attack in the eighth year of Jehoiakim’s reign, and does not allude to any previous one. Wintle, however, does not consider that the words of Josephus justify this inference, 322 and suggests that the difference in the methods used by the Jews and Babylonians in computing their years, may tend to obviate the inconsistency. Wintle suggests some reasons for dating the commencement of the seventy years’ captivity from the completion of the siege in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Daniel and his associates were among the first captives. Prideaux supposes this event to have occurred six hundred and six years A.C., or the one hundred and forty-second year of Nabonassar’s era; Vignoles and Blair fix the year following. Wintle agrees with the latter date, supposing the captivity not to continue during seventy solar years, and fixing their termination about 536 A.C.
Another commentator, who has paid great attention to chronology, deserves special notice, since he advocates a new theory respecting Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar, which is worthy of remark, though it has been severely criticized. The Duke Of Manchester has an elaborate chapter on this date, from which we shall extract the conclusions at which he has arrived. He understands “Daniel to speak of Jehoiakim’s independent reign, reckoning from the time that he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar.” 323 Jehoiakim was taken captive in the seventh of Nebuchadnezzar.
The oldest expositors felt the difficulty of the passage. Rabbi Solomon Jarchi asks, “How can this be said?” and then replies as follows: — This was the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar and the third of Jehoiakim’s rebellion against him.
Hengstenberg has not been forgetful to defend our Prophet from the charge of historical inaccuracy, to which this verse has given rise. He treats the assumption, that Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem before his accession to the throne, as inadmissible. “The assertion of his being associated by his father in the co-regency at that time is not adequately sustained.” 324 Ch. B. Michaelis and Bertholdt have made various attempts to reconcile the discrepancy. “The assumption,” says Hengstenberg, “that Nebuchadnezzar undertook his first expedition in the eighth year of Jehoiakim, is an hypothesis grounded merely on one passage.” Still, this passage, far from containing an error, affords a striking proof of the writer’s historical knowledge. Berosus, as quoted by Josephus, (Arch. 10:11, 1,) narrates the victory of Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish, which occurred about the close of Jehoiakim’s third year. Carchemish was a city on the banks of the Euphrates, taken by Pharaoh-Necho about three years previously. Immediately after this victory, the conqueror marched against Jerusalem and took it. The process by which Hengstenberg arrives at this result, the various authors whom he quotes, and the complete refutation which he supplies of all the conjectures of his Neologian opponents, will be found amply detailed in the valuable work already quoted. Rosenmuller also discusses the point, but leans too much to those writers whom Hengstenberg refutes.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR — ONE KING OR TWO?
The difficulty of reconciling the various statements of Scripture with themselves and with profane history, has raised the question whether there were two Nebuchadnezzar’s or only one. The Duke Of Manchester is a strenuous advocate for the former hypothesis, and his view of the case is worthy of perusal. The first king he supposes to have overthrown Necho’s army in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, as we have already stated. He came from the north into Judea, and took the people captive after the overthrow of Assyria. His eleventh year corresponds with the fourth of Zedekiah, while he reigned on the whole about twenty-nine years. He is to be identified with Cyrus, the father of Cambyses, well known in Persian history, so that the second Nebuchadnezzar was Cambyses himself. Although the astronomical Canon of Ptolemy is a formidable adversary, this writer shews much ingenuity in bending it to his purpose. The first king of this name began his reign A.C. 511, while Paulus Orosius determines the taking of Babylon “by Cyrus” about the time of the expulsion of the kings from Rome (A.C. 510.) Thus sixty-nine years elapsed between the overthrow of Necho and the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar the second; and in the eighteenth year of the reign of this latter king the golden image was set up.
Having identified the second king with Cambyses, this writer brings forward many testimonies in favor of his being a Persian, and shews that the Chaldeans were not Babylonians but Persians. He treats him as identical with the Persian Jemsheed, the contemporary of Pythagoras and Thales, and the founder of Pasargadæ and Persepolis, and justifies his positions by the authorities of Diocles, Hecataeus, Cedrenus, the Maccabees, Abydenus, and Alexander Polyhistor. “The evidence is deduced from direct testimony, from geographical position, from similarity in language and religion, in manners and customs, in personal character and alliances; from Babylonian bricks and cylinders; as also from historical synchronism’s and identity of actions.” 325 The statements of Herodotus are fully discussed and compared with the Egyptian sculptures, with the view of shewing that the second Nebuchadnezzar was the Cambyses of Herodotus, the son-in-law of Astyages and the conqueror of Egypt. The story of his madness, after profaning the temple of Apis, is said to apply accurately to this second monarch.
It could not be expected that a theory of this kind could be introduced into the world without severe and searching examination. Accordingly, Birks, in his preface to “The two later Visions of Daniel,” writes as follows: “I have examined closely the two difficulties which alone give a seeming strength to his Grace’s theory, — the succession of names in the Persian history, and the two covenants under Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, — and feel confident I can meet them both with a full and complete answer. It seems to me surprising that a paradox of two Scripture Nebuchadnezzar’s, and a Scripture Cyrus, totally unknown to profane history, in the reign of Longimanus, contemporary with Cimon and Pericles, can ever be received by any mind accustomed to pay the least regard to the laws of evidence. Every fresh inquiry has only increased my confidence in the usual chronology derived from the Canon of Ptolemy, and its truth, I believe, may be almost entirely established even by Scripture evidence alone.” Vaux, the learned author of “Nineveh and Persepolis,” furnishes a clear sketch of Nebuchadnezzar’s career, by combining the accounts of Herodotus and the Scriptures. In the thirty-first year of Josiah’s reign, Necho fought the battle of Megiddo, in which Josiah was mortally wounded. He then took Cadytis, “the holy city” of the Jews, and at length returned to Egypt with abundance of spoil. After a lapse of three years he invaded the territory of the king of Babylon. The reigning monarch — Nabopolassar — was aged and infirm; he gave the command of his army to his son Nebuchadnezzar, who defeated the Egyptians at Carcesium or Carchemish, and drove them out of Asia. He marched to Jerusalem, and reinstated Jehoiakim as its king, in subjection to himself; he spoiled the temple of the chief ornaments and vessels of value, and among the prisoners transmitted to Babylon were Daniel and his three friends. He next carried on war against the Egyptians, till the news of his father’s death caused his return. The revolt of Jehoiakim caused a second attack upon the city, and the carrying off of many prisoners, among whom was Ezekiel, to the banks of the distant Chebar. Zedekiah, the brother of Jehoiakim, having been placed on the throne, and having made an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra, the Apries of Herodotus, he is deposed by the King of Babylon, and carried captive in blindness and chains. Thus for the third and last time this conqueror invaded Judea and profaned the temple. After a lapse of four years he besieged Tyre; for thirteen years it resisted his arms, but was at length razed to the ground. He next succeeded in an expedition against Egypt, dethroned Apries, and leaving Amasis as his viceroy, returned to his imperial city. In the language of Jeremiah, “he arrayed himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment.” He next occupies himself in beautifying the city, and erecting a palace of extraordinary magnificence, and in constructing those hanging gardens mentioned by Diodoras, Megasthenes, and Arrian. The remainder of his history is easily gathered from the Prophet’s narrative. “A careful consideration of the authorities seems to shew that Clinton is right in his supposition that the reign of this prince was about forty-four years in duration, and that he was succeeded after a short interval by Belshazzar.” 326 Willet arrives at the same conclusion as to the length of his reign by a different process of reasoning. The following dates are extracted from Prideaux, whose caution and accuracy are most commendable: —
586. Tyre besieged.
570. The death of Apries, coincident with the dream of the tree, (Daniel 4,) after his last return from Egypt.
569. Da 4:30. Driven out into the fields.
563. Restored after seven years.
562. Death, after about forty-four years’ reign.
Another series of dates has been displayed by the author of “The Times of Daniel,” founded on a different chronological basis; we can only extract a few of them from pages 282, et seq.: —
510. Babylon taken by Cyrus, and kings expelled from Rome.
507. Commencement of Jehoiakim’s independent reign. Da 1:1
500. Nebuchadnezzar II. appointed; his dream. Daniel 2.
494. Golden Image set up. Daniel 3.
483. Nebuchadnezzar 1. died.
441. Nebuchadnezzar 2. died.
Dr. Wells has the following chronological arrangement of the chief events of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign: —
607. He is this year taken by his father “as partner” in the kingdom, falling in with the latter part of the third year of Jehoiakim, (Daniel 1:1.)
606. Jehoiakim carried to Babylon with Daniel and others.
The first of the seventy years’ captivity.
605. His father died. Nabopolassar in Ptolemy’s Canon, the son’s name being Nabocolassor. The Canon allows him forty-three years from this period.
603. Daniel interprets his dream. Daniel 2
588. He re-takes Jerusalem and Zedekiah.
569. Returned to Babylon, is afflicted with insanity. Daniel 4.
562. He dies “a few days” after being restored to reason.
THE ANCESTORS AND SUCCESSORS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR.
To understand aright the history of these times, we must take a cursory glance at the period both preceding and following that of the great Chaldean chieftain. His ancestors were largely concerned in the overthrow of the Assyrian empire. The origin of this monarchy is involved in great obscurity, and we are at this moment in a transition state with respect to our knowledge of its history. The deciphering of those inscriptions which have lately been brought home is rapidly proceeding, and will lead to a more complete knowledge of the events of this obscure epoch. Early in the Book of Genesis we read of Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, as the founder of an extensive monarchy in the land of Shinar. Out of this land he went forth into Ashur, or perhaps it is Ashur who went forth and built Nineveh and other cities. The records of succeeding ages are too few to enable us to follow the stream of history: we have nothing to guide us but myths, and legends, and traditionary sovereigns, whose names are but the fictions of imagination. It must never be forgotten that many centuries elapsed between Noah and Solomon, and that the most ancient profane history is comparatively modern. The late discoveries in Egypt, and the high state of civilization attained by these “swarthy barbarians,” have led the learned to the conclusion that we have hitherto lost many centuries between the flood and Abraham; and since the long list of Egyptian dynasties, as given by Manetho, has been proved accurate, it may fairly be supposed that the Assyrian sculptures will rather add to the credit of Ctesias than detract from it. At all events, Nineveh was “no mean city” when Athens was a marsh, and Sardis a rock. Whether Ninus is a fabulous creation or not, monarchs as mighty as the eagle-headed worshipper of Nisroch his god, swayed the scepter for ages over a flourishing and highly civilized people. Herodotus gives us a hint of the antiquity and pre-eminence of Assyria when he says, “The Medes were the first who began to revolt from the Assyrians, who had possessed the supreme command over Upper Asia for five hundred and twenty years.” Whether we adopt the view of Bishop Lowth or not, that Ninus lived in the time of the Judges, 327 we may correctly assume that some successful conqueror enlarged and beautified Babylon, five hundred years before the Chaldean era of Nabonassar, 747 A.C. Whatever the source of this wealth, whether derived from the spoils of conquered nations, according to Montesquieu, or from intercourse with India through Egypt, according to Bruce, 328 the lately discovered remains imply a very high style of art at a very remote period in the history of Assyria. The “Pul” of 2Ki 15:19, was by no means the founder of the monarchy, as Sir Isaac Newton and others have supposed; he was but one amidst those “servants of Bar,” whose names are now legible on the Nimroud obelisk in the British Museum. The next king mentioned in Scriptures is Tiglath-Pileser, whose name we have lately connected with Pul and Ashur; and after him follow Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon, the three kings who are thought to have built the palace at Khorsabad, founded Mespila, and constructed the lions in the south-west palace of Nimroud. As the Medes revolted first, so the Chaldeans rebelled afterwards, according to the usual law of separation from the parent stock, when the tribe or race grows strong enough to establish its independence. The first prince who is known to have lived after this revolt is Nabonassar, the founder of the era called by his name. In process of time, other kings arose and passed away, till in the thirty-first year of Manasseh, Esarhaddon died, after reigning thirteen years over Assyria and Babylon united. He was succeeded by his son Laosduchius, the Nabuchodonosor of the Book of Judith, whose successor commenced his reign in the fifty-first year of Manasseh, being the hundred and first of the above mentioned era. From this effeminate king his Chaldean general Nabopolassar wrested Babylon, and reigned over his native country twenty-one years. This revolt is said to have taken place in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, when the powers of Media uniting with the power of Babylonia, took and destroyed the great city of Nineveh, and reduced the people under the sway of the rising monarchy. His son Nebuchadnezzar is said to have married the daughter of Astyages, the king of the Medes, and thus brings down the history to the times of our Prophet.
Among the ancient cities of the world, Nineveh is conspicuous for its grandeur. The phrase of Jonah, “that great city,” is amply confirmed by the historian, Diodorus Siculus, (lib. 2 section. 23.) who uses precisely the same expression, recording its circumference as four hundred and eighty stadia, with high and broad walls. The inference from the statement of the Book of Jonah is, that it was populous, civilized, and extensive. The language of both Jonah and Nahum imply exactly what the buried sculptures have exhibited to us, a state of society highly organized, with various ranks, from the sovereign to the soldier and the workman, yet effeminated by luxury and self-indulgence. The expressions of Scripture give us exalted ideas of its size and splendor, while they assign its wickedness as a reason for the complete destruction by which it was annihilated. Prophet after prophet recognizes its surpassing opulence, its commercial greatness, and its deep criminality. The voice of Zephaniah is soon followed by the sword of Arbaces, and Sennacherib and Sardanapalus are eclipsed by the rising greatness of Nabopolassar and Cyaxares. Its temples and its palaces had become so encrusted in the soil during eight centuries of men, that Strabo knows it only as a waste, and Tacitus treats it as a Castellum; and in the thirteenth century of our era, Abulfaragius confirms the prophecy of Nahum and the narrative of Tacitus, by recording nothing but the existence of a small fortification on the eastern bank of the Tigris. 329
The dates assigned to these events vary considerably; the following may be trusted as the result of careful comparison. In the year A.C. 650, Nebuchodonosor is found on the throne of Assyria, “a date,” says Vaux, “which is determined by the coincidence with the forty-eighth year of Manasseh, and by the fact that his seventeenth year was the last of Phraortes, king of Media, A.C. 634. The Book of Judith informs us of an important engagement at Ragau between this Assyrian king and Arphaxad the king of the Medes. This victory at Ragau, or Rhages, occurred A.C. 634, just “fifty-seven years after the loss of Sennacherib’s army.” 330 After returning from Ecbatana, the capital of Media, the conqueror celebrated a banquet at Nineveh which lasted one hundred and twenty days. Cyaxares, the son of Phraortes, at length avenged his father’s death at Rhages, and by the aid of Nabopolassar, threw off the yoke of Assyria, attacked and took Nineveh about 606 A.C., and thus, by fixing the seat of empire at Babylon, blotted out the name of Nineveh from the page of the world’s history.
This renowned general is usually held to be the father of Nebuchadnezzar, on the authority of Berosus, as quoted by Josephus, and of the Astronomical Canon of Ptolemy. But the author of “The Times of Daniel” endeavors to identify him with either Sardanapalus or Esarhaddon; the arguments by which this supposition is supported will be found in detail in the work itself, while the original passages in Josephus and Eusebius are found at length in the notes to Grotius on “The truth of the Christian religion.” 331 He died A.C. 695.
His Successors. — According to the Canon of Ptolemy, Evil-Merodach succeeded Nebuchadnezzar, reigned two years, and was slain by his brother-in-law Neri-Glissar, who reigned four years; his son, Laborosoarchod, reigned nine months, though quite a child, and was slain by Nabonadius, supposed to be Belshazzar, a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned seventeen years. Evil-Merodach is mentioned in 2Ki 25:27, and Jer 52:31, but not by Daniel, and this gives some countenance to the supposition, that Belshazzar was the son and not the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. It is not easy to assign with certainty the correct dates to each of these kings, the reckoning of Josephus is here followed, which he derives from Berosus. The testimony of profane antiquity to the truth and historical accuracy of Daniel may be found in a convenient form in Kitto’s Bibli. Cyclop., Art. Nebuchadnezzar, page 406. The authorities are quoted at length, and the whole subject is ably elucidated. The limited space necessarily allowed for illustrating these Lectures, must be our apology for merely indicating where valuable information is to be obtained.
In the New Monthly Magazine for August and September 1845, there are two articles very full of illustration of our subject, by W. F. Ainsworth, entitled, The Rivers and Cities of Babylonia.
To determine the question which was raised in our last Dissertation, we must investigate the origin of the Chaldeans, as it was the tribe whence Nebuchadnezzar sprung. “The question,” says Heeren, “what the Chaldeans really were, and whether they ever properly existed as a nation, is one of the most difficult which history presents.” 332 They are first mentioned in Genesis (Ge 11:28,) as Casdim, (Lecture 5;) they were situated north of Judea, and are identical with the people who should, according to Jeremiah, destroy the temple from the north. (Jer. 1:13, 14, etc.) They are not mentioned by name again in the books of Scripture till many centuries afterwards they had become a mighty nation. The word Chasdim in the Hebrew and Chasdaim in the Chaldee dialects, is clearly the same as the Greek Χαλδαῖοι; and Gesenius supposing the root to have been originally card, refers them to the race inhabiting the mountains called by Xenophon Carduchi. Forster, indeed, has argued at considerable length in favor of their Arabian origin, and supposes them the well known Beni Khaled, a horde of Bedouin Arabs. 333 From this opinion we entirely dissent. The view of Gesenius in his Lectures at Halle in 1839, quoted in “The Times of Daniel,” appears preferable, — “The Chaldeans had their original seat on the east of the Tigris, south of Armenia, which we now call Koordistan; and, like the Koords in our day, they were warlike mountaineers, without agriculture, shepherds and robbers, and also mercenaries in the Assyrian army; so Xenophon found them.” 334 Vaux quotes Dicaearchus, a Greek historian of the time of Alexander the Great, as alluding to a certain Chaldean, a king of Assyria, who is supposed to have built Babylon; and in later times, Chaldea implied the whole of Mesopotamia around Babylon, which had also the name of Shiner. 335
Their religion and their language are also of importance. The former consisted in the worship of the heavenly bodies. They are supposed to have brought with them to Babylon a knowledge of astronomy superior to any then known, since they reduced their observations on the sun, moon, five planets, signs of the zodiac, and the rising and setting of the sun, to a regular system; and the Greeks are said by Herodotus to have derived from them the division of the day into twelve equal parts. 336 The lunar year was in common use, but the solar year, with its division of months similar to the Egyptian, was employed for astronomical purposes. The learned class gradually acquired the reputation and position of “priests,” and thus became astrologers and soothsayers, and “wise men” in their day and generation. Michaelis and Sehlozer consider their origin to be Sclavonic, and, consequently, distinct from the Babylonians, who were descendants of Shem.
Their Language. — The original language of this people is a point of great interest to the biblical critic. If the people were of old northern mountaineers, they spoke a language connected with the Indo-Persic and Indo-Germanic stem rather than the Semitic. In treating this question, we should always allow for the length of time which elapsed between the original outbreak of those hordes from their native hills; and their conquest of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. Gesenius, in his Lectures on Biblical Archaeology, reminds us of their being first tributary to the Assyrians, of their subsequent occupation of the plains of Mesopotamia for some centuries previously to their becoming the conquerors of Asia under successful leaders. 337
From the fourth verse of chapter 2 (Da 2:4) we learn that they spoke the Aramaic dialect, which the Alexandrine Version, as well as Theodotion’s, denominates the Syriac. From the Cyropaedia (Book 7:24) we ascertain that the Syriac was the ordinary language of Babylon. Strabo also informs us that the same language was used throughout all the regions on the banks of the Euphrates. 338 Diodorus Siculus calls the Chaldeans the most ancient inhabitants of Babylonia, and assigns to their astrologers a similar position to that of the Egyptian priests. Their devotion to philosophy and their practice of astronomy gained them great credit with the powerful, which they turned to account by professing to predict the future and to interpret the visions of the imaginative and the distressed. 339 The testimony of Cicero is precisely similar. 340 Hengstenberg has tested the historical truthfulness of the author of this book, by comparing his account of the Chaldean priest-caste with those of profane history. According to chapter. 2:48, the president of this caste was also a prince of the province of Babylon. Thus, according to Diodorus Siculus, Belesys was the chief president of the priests, “whom the Babylonians call Chaldeans,” 341 and governor of Babylon. In Jeremiah, (Jer 39:3-13,) the president of the priests belonged to the highest class in the kingdom, and is called רבמג, rab-mag, a word of Persian origin, and clearly applicable to the office as described by Daniel. The views of Hengstenberg are usually so correct, that the student may generally adopt them at once as his own.
I. ASHPENAZ, A CHIEF OF THE EUNUCHS.
This proper name is interpreted by Saadias to mean “the man of a sorrowful countenance;” but Rosenmuller assigns the meaning of the Syriac and Arabic corresponding words as more probable, viz., “helping” and “alert.” The Alexandrine Greek substitutes Abiezer for Aspenaz, being a Hebrew patronymic, signifying “father of help.” “The chief of the eunuchs” seems the correct definition of his office.סריס , saris, is equivalent to the Greek eunouchos, and the office is similar to that at present exercised at the courts of Turkey and Persia as the kislar agha, “high-chamberlain of the palace.” So much confidence was necessarily reposed in these domestic officers, that many affairs of the utmost importance and delicacy were intrusted to their care. Thus the children of the royal and noble families of Judea were committed to the care of Aspenaz. The word ספר, sepher, “book,” in which he was to instruct them, must be extended to all the literature of the Chaldees. Oecolampadius treats it as including rhetoric, eloquence, and all those elevating pursuits which cultivate the mind and refine the manners. He then proceeds to treat the narrative as an allegory; the “prince of Babel, or, of the world,” represents Satan; Daniel and his companions, the elect members of Christ. The family of David is supposed to imply this spiritual household of God, and the word פרתמים, pharth-mim, nobles, is pressed into this service by a preference for the rendering of Saadias, “perfect fruit.” The eunuch is said to typify those spiritual flatterers who entice the children of God by flatteries and allurements to sin, and by substituting worldly sophistry for true wisdom, draw souls from Christ. Although such reflections are very profitable, yet Calvin has shewn his matured judgment by excluding all fanciful allegory from his comments. Oecolampadius supposes the king to be liberal and benevolent in ordering the captives to be fed from his table, and prudent in proposing this indulgence as a reward for their diligence in study. Here also the king’s character is allegorized; he becomes a model of Satan enticing God’s elect, and offering them to partake of his own dainties, that he may win them more blandly to himself.
In commenting, too, on the change of names, Oecolampadius gives the usual meaning to the Hebrew words, but observes, how the name of God was omitted from them all, and the worthiness attributed to the creature. This, he thinks, to have been the eunuch’s intention, while he points to the change as an instance of the contrast between human and divine wisdom. The conduct of Daniel may be illustrated by the practice of the early Christians, against whom it was objected by Caecilius, that they abhorred meats offered to idols when commanded to partake of them. 342 Willet has discussed the questions — “Whether Daniel and the rest learned the curious arts of the Chaldeans?” and, “Whether it be lawful to use the arts and inventions of the heathen?” by collecting various opinions and summing them up with practical wisdom. 343
II.THE NAMES OF THE THREE CHILDREN.
IT is the well-known custom of the East to change the names of persons on their admission to public office or to families of distinction. The change here recorded most probably arose from a desire to draw these young Jews away from all the associations of home, and to naturalize them as much as possible among their new associates. Hananiah is supposed to come from חנן, chanan, to be gracious, and יה, yah, Jehovah, meaning “favored of God.” Mishael from יש, ish, he is, and אל, el, God, meaning “the powerful one of God.” Azariah from עזר, gnezer, help, and יה, yah, Jehovah: “the help of Jehovah.” A variety of conjectures have been hazarded concerning the Chaldee equivalents. Shadrach is probably from שדא, sheda, to inspire, and רך, rak, king, being a Babylonian name for the sun; others connect it with an evil deity. Meshach retains a portion of its Hebrew form, and substitutes שך, shak, for אל, el, that is, the female deity Schaca, which answers to the Venus of the Greeks. עבד-נגו, gnebed-nego, is the Chaldaic phrase for “servant of Nebo,” one of their deities, or perhaps, servant of burning fire. The deity Nebo furnished names to many chiefs and sovereigns among the Assyrians and Chaldees, and modern researches and discoveries have enabled us to trace similar derivations with great accuracy. Compounds of Pul were used in a similar way: thus Tiglath-Pileser is Tiglath Pul-Asser; and Nabo-Pul-Asser is interpreted as Nabo, son of Pul, lord of Assyria.
The name of Daniel was also changed. The word is derived from דון, dun, to judge, and אל, el, God, meaning “a divine judge;” while his new name relates to the idol Bel, meaning “keeper of the treasures of Bel.”
III. THE PULSE.
Calvin’s view of this verse is rather peculiar, and especially his comment on De 8:3; on Da 1:14. The word “pulse,” הזרעים, hazerognim, signifies the same as the Latin legumen, and may perhaps be extended to the cerealia as well. Vegetable diet generally is intended. The food provided from the royal table was probably too stimulating, and the habitual temperance of Daniel and his companions is here pointed out as conducing remarkably to their bodily health and appearance. Thus, while conscience refused to be “polluted,” obedience to the laws of our physical nature produces a corresponding physical benefit. Wintle very appositely quotes Virgil, Georg. 1:73, 74, to illustrate the kind of food intended.
CORESH — WAS HE CYRUS THE GREAT?
The last verse of this chapter is connected with an interesting inquiry, viz., Was the Coresh here mentioned Cyrus The Great, or any other Cyrus? The noble author of “The Times of Daniel” has thrown much “life” into the subject by his elaborate defense of a theory which we now proceed to state and discuss. Cyrus the Great he thinks identical with Nebuchadnezzar the First, and Cambyses with his son Nebuchadnezzar the Second; the exploits of the hero of Herodotus and Xenophon are attributed to the former, while Coresh becomes but a minor character, contemporary with Darius the Mede, after whom he is said to reign, and before Darius the son of Ahasuerus. This view also brings the story of Esther within the period of the captivity of Babylon. It has always been a subject of great difficulty with commentators on Daniel, to reconcile the scriptural narrative with those of both Herodotus and Xenophon. The majority finding this impossible, have decided in favor of one or the other of these historians; and the best modern writers usually prefer Herodotus. Lowth, in his Notes on Isaiah, says, “the Cyrus of Herodotus was a very different character from that of the Cyrus of the Scriptures and Xenophon;” and Archbishop Secker has taken great pains to compare all the profane historians with Scripture, and shews that the weight of the argument lies against the truth of the Cyropaedia. Whether Cyrus was the grandson of Astyages or not, many believe with Ctesias that he overcame him in battle, and founded the Persian empire upon the ruins of the Median dynasty. It is scarcely possible that it should be left for this nineteenth century to discover the identity between a first Nebuchadnezzar and this conqueror of the East; and while the clearing up of every historical discrepancy is impossible, yet it is desirable to reconcile the occurrences which are related by both Herodotus and Xenophon. The son of Cambyses the Persian, and of Mandane the daughter of Astyages king of the Medes, is said to have conquered Craesus king of Lydia, enlarged the Persian empire, subdued Babylon and the remnant of the Assyrian power, and placed his uncle Cyaxares over the united territories of Media and Babylon. After the death of this relative, he reigned over Asia, from India to Ethiopia, a territory consisting of 127 provinces. The manner of his death is uncertain, all the historians differ in their accounts, but the place of his burial is allowed to be Pasargadae, as Pliny has recorded in his Natural History. This tomb was visited by Alexander the Great, and has lately been noticed and described by European travelers. The plains of Murghab are watered by a river which bears the name of Kur, and is thought to be identical with the Greek Cyrus. A structure in a ruinous state has been found there, apparently of the same date as the remains at Persepolis, bearing cuneiform inscriptions which are now legible. The legend upon one of the pilasters has been interpreted, “I am Cyrus the Achaemenian;” and no doubt is entertained by the learned that this monument once contained the remains of the founder of the Persian monarchy. A single block of marble was discovered by Sir R. K. Porter, on which he discovered a beautiful sculpture in bas-relief, consisting of the figure of a man, from whose shoulders issue four large wings, rising above the head and extending to the feet. 344 The whole value of such an inscription to the reader of Daniel is the legend above the figure, in the arrow-headed character, determining the spot as the tomb of Cyrus the Great. It shews, at the least, that he cannot be identified with Nebuchadnezzar.
The manner in which the author of “The Times of Daniel” has commented on the prophecies relating to the overthrow of Babylon, is worthy of notice here. Isa 45:14, is referred by Dr. Keith to Cyrus, and objection is made to the supposed fulfillment in the person of Cyrus, Keith is said to apply to Cyrus the primary historical fulfillment of all the prophecies relating to the overthrow of Babylon, and the justness of this inference is doubted. Isa 13:1-14:27, is one of the passages where the asserted allusion to Cyrus is questioned, since it relates to a period in which the power of Assyria was in existence. The Assyrian is supposed to be Sennacherib, to whose predecessor both Babylon and Media were subject. “The Chaldeans, mentioned in Isa 13:19, I have already explained to have been a colony of astronomers, planted in Babylon by the Assyrian kings to carry on their astronomical observations, in which science they excelled.” Again, Isa 21:2, “Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media,” is applied by Dr. Keith to Cyrus, to which the noble author objects, as well as to the supposition “that the overthrow of Belshazzar during his drunken revelry was predicted in Scripture, and that the minute fulfillment by Cyrus is recorded by Xenophon.” “The feast of Belshazzar,” it is added, “does not appear to correspond with the festival described by Xenophon, which was apparently periodical, and which, not a portion of the nobles, but all the Babylonians, observed by drunkenness and revelry during the whole night.” “It also agrees with the mode in which Zopyrus got possession of Babylon.” Calvin seems to give it this turn, “A treacherous one shall find treachery,” etc. Further comments are then made upon Isaiah 44 and 45, and on Jeremiah 50 and 51, evading the force of their application to Cyrus, and combating with some degree of success the assertions of Keith; for the noble author, who is earnest in pulling down, is ingenious in building up. “From this short examination, it appears that the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50 and 51) corresponds with the capture of Babylon by Darius the Mede of Scripture, and by Darius Hystaspes, according to Herodotus.” Some writers have supposed Cyrus to be identical with this Darius the Mede; and Archbishop Secker acknowledges some ground for such a conjecture. “The first year of Darius the Mede is by the LXX. translated the first year of Cyrus,” 345 and the Canon of Ptolemy favors the identity. “Now all agree, as far as I have seen,” says Wintle, “that the year of the expiration of the captivity, or the year that Cyrus issued his decree in favor of the Jews, was the year 212 of the era of Nabonassar, or 536 A.C.; and there is no doubt but Darius the Mede, whoever he was, reigned, according to Daniel, from the capture of Babylon, till this same first year of Cyrus, or till the commencement of the reign alloted by Scripture to Cyrus the Persian.” “The Canon certainly allots nine years’ reign to Cyrus over Babylon, of which space the two former years are usually allowed to coincide with the reign of Cyaxares or Darius the Mede, by the advocates of Xenophon.” (Prelim. Dissertation.) Herodotus, Xenophon, and Ctesias all agree in the original superiority of the Medes, till the victories of Cyrus turned the scale, and gave rise to the Persian dynasty. At the fall of Babylon, and during the life of Darius, the Medes are mentioned by Daniel as superior, but at the accession of Cyrus this order is reversed, and Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, all assign the foremost place to the Persians.
The life of Daniel, Rosenmuller reminds us, was prolonged beyond the first year of king כרוש, Coresh, for the tenth chapter informs us of his vision in the third year of that monarch’s reign. He explains the apparent contradiction, by saying that it was enough for Daniel to live, or to the liberation of the Jews in the first year of the reign of Coresh; that was the crowning event of his prolonged existence. The conjectures of Bertholdt and Aben-Ezra are mentioned, only to be disposed of by a few words of censure. An ingenious conjecture of a French critic is found in the Encycl. Theol., Liv. 27. The objection of Bleek, Ewald, Winer, and De Wette, are ably treated at length by Hengstenberg, and really meet with more serious attention than they deserve. It is a useless waste of precious time to enter minutely into every “phantasy” of the restless neology of Germany, while the chronology of Daniel’s life will form the subject of a subsequent Dissertation. As some Neologians dwell much on the historian Ctesias, and lest the unlearned reader should be misled by their confident assertions, we may here state that we have only an epitome of his work preserved by the patriarch Photius. Bahr states that he lived about 400 B.C., in the reign of Darius Nothus, being a Greek physician who remained seventeen years at the Persian court. Diodorus informs us that he obtained his information from the royal archives, but there are so many anachronisms and errors of various kinds, that his statements cannot be safely followed as if historically correct. Ctesias, for instance, denies all relationship between Cyrus and Astyages. According to him, he defeated Astyages, invested his daughter Amytis with the honors of a queen, and afterwards married her. F. W. Newman, indeed, prefers this narrative to that of both Herodotus and Xenophon, and thereby renders their testimony to the scriptural record uncertain and valueless. He also treats “the few facts” in regard to the Persian wars, “which the epitomator has extracted as differing from Herodotus,” as carrying with them “high probability.” The closing scene of his career, as depicted in the narrative of Ctesias, is pronounced “beyond comparison more credible” than that of Herodotus. This great conqueror died the third day after his wound in a battle with “the Derbices,” and was buried in that monument at Pasargadae, which the Macedonians broke open two centuries afterwards, (Strabo, lib. 15 Section 3; Arrian, lib. vi. Section 29,) and which has lately been explored and described by Morier and Sir R. K. Porter. 346
Notwithstanding the hypothesis which has lately found favor with the modern writers whose worlds we have quoted, we feel that the views of the older critics are preferable; and, on the whole, Calvin’s exposition can only be improved upon in minor details. The authorities enumerated by Archbishop Secker, as given by Wintle in his preface, page 18 and following, are worthy of attentive perusal; and we must refer again to Hengstenberg’s able replies to a variety of objections which we are unable to notice. See Da 1:6 and following, Edit. Ed.
THE KING’S DREAM.
Its Date. — The assertion of the first verse has created some difficulty, in consequence of its not allowing time enough for the Jewish youth to become a man. Jerome attempts to solve it by supposing the point of departure to be not his reign over Judea, but of his dominion over other nations, as the Assyrians and Egyptians. He seems justified in this view by the words of Josephus, (Antiq., lib. 10 chapter 10. Section 3,) who distinctly refers the dream to the second year “after the laying waste of Egypt.” Rosenmuller objects to this explanation, and to that of C. B. Michaelis, and adopts that of Saadias, who supposes the dream to have happened in the second year, but not to be interpreted till the conclusion of the third.
Its Origin. — Nothing is more difficult to reduce to philosophic laws than the theory of dreams and their interpretation. The researches of physical science have thrown more light on the subject than all the guesses of ancient or modern divines. Jerome, for instance, thought that in this case, “the shadow of the dream remained,” a sort of breath (aura) and trace remaining in the mind of the king. It is of no use whatever to seek for much light on these subjects in the works of the ancients, whether Fathers or Reformers; they are constantly displaying their ignorance whenever they treat of subjects within the domain of psychological science. The physician has now become a far safer guide than the divine. Although Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was supernatural in its origin, yet it seems like ordinary ones in its departing from the sleeper while he is completely unconscious of its subject.
Physical researches have proved the truth of Calvin’s assertion on verse third, that “Scientia est generalis et perpetua.” Explanations have happily passed away from the theologian and the metaphysician to the physician and the chemist. The brain is now admitted to be the organ through which the mind acts during both the activity and the repose of the body, and dreams are now known to depend upon physical causes acting through the nerves upon the brain. The late researches of the celebrated chemist Baron Reichenbach seem to have led us one step nearer to the true explanation of these singular phenomena; the discovery of odyle, a new imponderable agent, like caloric and electricity, has enabled the modern philosopher to trace some of the laws of natural and artificial sleep. The existence of odyle in magnets, crystals, and the animal frame, and its intimate connection with lucidity, and impressions conveyed to the sensorium during magnetic sleep, seems now to be received by the best psychologists; their experiments will, doubtless, lead to our ascertaining the laws which regulate dreaming; and if the results said to be obtained by Mr. Lewis, Major Buckley, and Dr. William Gregory of Edinburgh, are ultimately admitted as facts by the scientific world, a new method of explaining the operations of the mind in sleep will be completely established. — See the “Letters” published by the Professor of Chemistry in the University of Edinburgh, 1 volume 12mo. 1851.
This contrast between the ancient and modern methods of explanation is strikingly exemplified by Calvin’s reference to the Daimones on page 119, which requires some elucidation to render it intelligible to the general reader.
The philosophers of Greece held various theories concerning them, among which that recorded by Plato in the Phaedrus is the most singular. He commences by asserting the immortality of the soul, and its essential existence from all eternity. The explanation of this idea, as it really is, he treats as divine, but its similitude as human and readily comprehended. The simile is remarkable. The deities have all a chariot and horses, which are perfect, but ours have two horses, each of contrary dispositions. A whole armament of these winged spirits are led on under the concave of heaven, Jupiter himself leading the armament of gods and daimones. In attempting to ascend, the perfect horses of the deities succeed in reaching the convex surface, which no poet ever has described or will describe worthily; but some charioteers fail in their efforts, because one of their horses is depraved, and ever tends downwards towards the earth. In consequence of this depravity, the utmost confusion occurs — the daimones loose their wings and fall to earth, and become human souls. But the various ranks which arise from them deserve especial notice. Those who have beheld most of the glories beyond the heavenly concave become philosophers, and the next to them kings and warriors. Seven other classes of men spring up in the following order: — politicians, physicians, prophets, poets, farmers, sophists, and tyrants. After ten thousand years, the soul may recover its wings, and be judged — some in heaven and others in courts of justice under the earth, while some pass into beasts and then return again to bodies of men. This notion of the origin of the soul from the daimones is a very singular one, and helps us to understand the double sense of the word, like that of angels among us, both good and bad. Though it is not difficult to perceive its connection with dreaming, as the medium of intercourse between the souls of men and the disembodied spirits, yet such conjectures throw no light whatever upon the king’s dream before us.
The passages alluded to by Calvin from Cicero are found in the First and Second Books De Divinatione. They consist of extracts from Ennius, and relate the fabled dreams of Priam, Tarquinius Superbus, and the mother of Phalaris, as well as that remarkable one which the magi are said to have interpreted for Cyrus. In the Second Book, Cicero argues wisely and strenuously against the divine origin of dreams. To pay the slightest attention to them he deems the mark of a weak, superstitious, and driveling mind. He inveighs strongly against the pretense to interpret them, which had become a complete traffic, and displayed the imposture which always flourishes wherever there are dupes to feed it. He combats the views of Aristotle, which Calvin quotes, and supplies much material for discussion though but little illustration of our subject. The passages above referred to will be found quoted and explained in Colquhoun’s History of Magic, volume 1, while some useful observations on sleep and dreams occur in page 60 and following.
THE IMAGE AND ITS INTERPRETATION.
“Thou art this head of gold.” A question has arisen whether this expression relates to Nebuchadnezzar personally, or to his empire and dynasty continued to his grandson. The principle is an important one, although history has already removed all difficulty as to the facts. C. B. Michaelis, Willet, Wells, and others, consider the monarch as the representative of his empire, not only during his life but until its overthrow. In the quaint language of Willet, “In this short sentence, thou art the head of gold, there are as many figures as words.” Thou, that is, thy kingdom; art, meaning signifiest or representest; head, means “the antiquity and priority of that kingdom, and the knowledge and wisdom of that nation;” gold, “betokeneth their riches, prosperity, and flourishing estate.” Compare also Isa 14:4, and Jer 51:7, where the epithet golden alludes to the majesty and wealth of the city. Wintle interprets the golden head as representing the duration of the empire of Babylon from Ninus to Belshazzar, a period of 700 years; but this is objectionable, since the father of Nebuchadnezzar was of a different race from the early sovereigns of Babylon, and the vision becomes far more emphatic, by being limited to Nebuchadnezzar and his immediate successors. Oecolampadius limits the period to his own times, and gives an ingenious reason for the head being of gold. He quotes the authorities for the extensive dominion of this king, viz.,
Berosus known to us through Josephus, and Megasthenes through Eusebius, as well as Orosius, who extend his sway over Syria, Armenia, Phoenicia, Arabia, Lybia, and even Spain; but this commentator is not satisfied with this allusion. He explains it of the justness of his administration. His earlier years were more righteous than his later, and though many faults may be detected in him, yet he was less open to the charge of injustice than the Persians and Greeks who succeeded him.
Da 2:39 The Second Kingdom is the Medo-Persian, denoted according to Josephus by the two arms. Wintle very appositely quotes Claudian —
Assyrio, Medoque tulit moderamina Perses 347
The Vulgate here introduces the adjective “silver,” adopting it from Da 2:32, not as a translation, but, according to Rosenmuller, as a modus interpretamenti.
The Third Kingdom is that of the Greeks, but the Fourth is variously interpreted. It relates to either the successors of Alexander or to the Romans. The majority of the older commentators agreed with Calvin in thinking it to mean the Roman empire, viz., Oecolampadius, Bullinger, Melancthon and Osiander, while Grotius and Rosenmuller, and Cosmas, the Indian traveler whom we have previously referred to as known to us through Montfaucon, advocate its reference to the Seleucidae and Lagidae. Poole’s Synopsis will furnish the reader with long lists of varying opinions, each fortified by its own reasons, and Willet has carefully collected and arranged the arguments on both sides. The divines of Germany have added their conjectures to those which have preceded them. Kuinoel in his theological commentaries has preserved the view of Velthusen 348 and others; while the absurdities which some of them propose may be understood from the opinion of Harenberg, who thinks the stone which destroyed the image to be the sons and grandsons of Nebuchadnezzar, and Doederlein in his notes to Grotius, and Scharfenberg in his “Observations on Daniel,” approve the foolish conjecture.
A third view, very different from those which preceded it, has been ably stated and laboriously defended. Dr. Todd of Dublin, in his valuable “Lectures on Antichrist,” considers the fourth empire as yet to come. The kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, and Cyrus, are said to be signified by the golden head, that of Alexander by the silver breast and arms, the Roman by the brass, while the iron prefigures the cruel and resistless sway of Antichrist, which shall not be overthrown till the second advent of Messiah. We shall have future opportunities for discussing this theory more at length; it has necessarily enlisted him in the ranks of the Futurists, whom Birks has confuted at length in his “First Elements of Sacred Prophecy.” We refer the student to these two worlds, each excellent of its kind, while we defer the discussion of this most interesting question till we treat the chapters contained in our second volume.
In descending to details, the arms of the image have been treated as symbols of the Medo-Persian empire; Theodoret considering the right arm to represent one, and the left the other. Various reasons have been given for the implied inferiority. Willet adopts one the direct contrary of Calvin’s. While one author treats the inferiority as moral, in consequence of a general corruption of manners, Willet thinks the “government more tolerable and equal toward the people of God.” Some have thought the silver to refer to remarkable wealth, and others to superior wisdom and eloquence. The belly and thighs being of brass, are thought to prefigure the intemperance, and yet the firmness of the Grecian powers. Alexander’s personal debauchery and extravagance is said to be hinted at. The brass is said to imply his warlike disposition and his invincible spirit. The iron is thought to be peculiarly characteristic of the conquests of Rome; the mingling with clay signifies “the division and dissension of the kingdom,” says Willet; while others refer it to the marriages between the Roman generals and the barbarians, or generally to the intermingling of the conquerors of the world with the tribes whom they subdued. The two legs are said to be the two great divisions of the Roman empire after the time of Constantine, though those who treat them as belonging to the successors of Alexander, think they mean Egypt and Syria. The mingling with the seed of men (Da 2:43) is interpreted of the admission of the subject allies to the freedom of the state (donati civitate), and also of the fusion between the barbarians and the Romans, in the late periods of the declining empire. Whether the toes represent individual kings or distinct kingdoms, has been discussed by Birks in his “Elements of Prophecy.”
THE STONE CUT WITHOUT HANDS.
The Stone “Cut Out Of The Mountain” is generally interpreted of the kingdom of Messiah, some writers applying it to his first Advent, and others to his second. If the fourth kingdom be the Roman, then the stone was cut “without hands,” either at the birth of Christ, or, as Calvin when answering Abarbanel prefers, at the first spread of the Gospel. The reason why a “stone” here symbolizes “the kingdom of the heavens,” is because Christ is spoken of in Scripture as a chief corner-stone. The passages in the Psalms, Isaiah, and Matthew, and others, are too familiar to the reader to require quotation. The mountain is supposed to be, either the Virgin Mary, or the Jewish people; without hands, may allude to our Savior’s marvelous birth, or to his spiritual independence of all human agency. The ancient fathers, as well as the modern reformers, agree in this allusion to Christ. See Justin Martyr Dial. cum Tryph., section 32; Irenaeus adv. Haer., verse 21; Tertullian, De Resur., page 61; Apolog., page 869; Cyprian adv. Jud., lib. 2. section 17; Augustine in Psalm 98.
The question of the greatest interest is, whether this prophecy has been fulfilled at the first Advent, or is yet to be accomplished at the second. Willet has taken Calvin to task for his “insufficient” answers to the “Rabbine Barbanel,” but as they vary only on minor points, it is not necessary to quote the corrections of his thoughtful monitor.
The theory of Joseph Mede, the great advocate of the year-day system, may be noticed here. He supposes the stone cut out at the first Advent, but not to smite the image till the second. This involves the existence of the Roman empire, throughout the whole Christian dispensation — an admission that Calvin would not make, and should not be hastily allowed. Dr. Todd correctly remarks, “it assumes the Roman empire to be still in existence,” and it further assumes that the prophecies revealed to Daniel advance beyond the first Advent of Messiah. Calvin and the older commentators treat them as terminating with the establishment of the Gospel dispensation. Tertullian, indeed, applies this passage to the second Advent, but Maldonatus considers that expositor as “insanus,” who thinks the Roman empire to be still existing. Yet both Bellarmine, and Birks argue for its present continuance, and each founds upon it his own views of Scripture prophecy.
As we shall have other opportunities for discussing these questions in our second volume, we simply state that Calvin and our chief Reformers considered all Daniel’s prophecies summed up and satisfied by the first Advent of Christ. As they did not adopt the year-day system, they treated these predictions as pointing the Jews to the coming of their Messiah, and as depicting the various kingdoms and sovereigns which should arise, and affect by their progress and dissensions the Holy Land. It never once occurred to them that the Book of Daniel relates in any way to the details of the history of modern Europe, and of either the Court or the Church of Rome.
Another view hinted at, but disapproved by Bishop Newton, is that the third empire relates solely to Alexander, the fourth to his successors in Syria and Egypt, and the stone cut without hands to the Roman dominion. But with this popular writer as well as with Joseph Mede — the received view of the iron portion of the image is “little less than an article of faith.” 349 The stone he reminds us was quite different from the image, so the kingdom of Christ was utterly distinct from the principalities of this world. He asserts that its smiting power was displayed at the first Advent, and is continued throughout the subsequent history of the world. But as Bishop Newton is an advocate of the historical system of interpreting days for years, which Calvin did not uphold, it is unnecessary to quote him further. The reader will, however, derive benefit from consulting the authorities which he has brought forward in rich abundance. 350 As he is a valuable and a popular expounder of prophecy, it is necessary to make this passing allusion to so valuable an author; while the reader of these Lectures must be cautioned against adopting any views of prophecy which are inconsistent with the great principle upon which the Almighty deals with us, in our new covenant through Christ our Lord.
Oecolampadius in his comment upon Da 2:44, treats the kingdom of Christ as spiritual and eternal; like other earnest writers, he considers the troubles of his own days as peculiarly the marks of Antichrist. The blasphemy of the Mahometans, and the arrogance of the “Cata-baptists,” seem to him intolerable. He is especially vehement against those who urge the necessity of a second baptism, and deny the value of outward ordinances, as the ministry and the sacraments; and argues for the permanence of external ceremonies till the second Advent of Christ.
He considers verse forty-five to relate to the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of mankind to judgment, but does not condemn the opinion of Jerome and other “fathers,” who refer it to the incarnation of our Lord. The mountain, says he, is Zion, and the people the Jews, and by his crucifixion, Christ is said to grow into a mountain and fill the earth. He quotes Hippolytus as sanctioning its reference to the second Advent; and objects to the views of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Lactantius, who as Chiliasts turned this passage to their purpose. The gross ideas of some Jews and Christians, respecting a thousand years of carnal enjoyment upon earth, are wisely reprobated, and some very profitable remarks are made upon the spiritual reign of Christ in the hearts and souls of his people. Oecolampadius is on this occasion remarkably practical and searching in his comment; he is not so critical and literal as Calvin, but he develops more of the deep feelings of the mature Christian than any other Reformer does on the Old Testament.
THE COLOSSUS AT DURA.
Many points of interest are connected with the narrative of this chapter.
1. The time of its erection. This is unknown; various conjectures have been offered, but not the slightest historical foundation proved for any of them. Theodoret and Chrysostom fix upon the eighteenth year of the king’s reign.
2. The object of its erection. It was probably intended to entrap the Jews and all conscientious worshippers of Jehovah. Calvin’s view is adopted by the best writers.
3. In whose honor was it erected? Willet agrees with Calvin in thinking it was consecrated to some deity, as Bel, the chief object of his worship.
4. The place of its erection was the plain called by Ptolemy, Deira, between Chaltopis and Cissia, in the region of Susan. 351 The editor of the Chisian Codex derives it from the Persian word dooran, meaning an enclosure, thus strengthening the view of Jerome, that it was erected in an enclosure within the city.
A singular feature in the earliest commentators is the mystical application of such subjects. Chrysostom, for instance, takes it to denote covetousness; 352 and Jerome, (in loc.,) false doctrine and heresy; and Irenaeus, the pomp and pride of the world, under the mastery of Satan. 353
The disproportion of its form has occasioned some difference among expositors. Bertholdt, as usual, is full of faultfinding. “How was it possible for it to stand of itself?” But there is no proof that the statue had throughout a human form. Columns with a human head on the top were often erected by the Asiatics in honor of their deities. Münter in his Religion of the Babylonians, treats it as similar to the Amyclaean Apollo, a simple column, to which a head and feet were added. Gesenius, too, has observed that the ruins of the tower of Belus are imposing only from their colossal size, and not from their proportions; the Babylonians preferred everything huge, irregular, and grotesque. Idol-pillars were commonly erected by the Assyrians in honor of their deities. If, however, we strictly limit the word צלם, tzelem, to a human figure complete in all its parts, we may still vindicate the truth of Daniel by allowing for a pedestal which would be necessary. The proportion of six to one is correct: for a human figure; hence with a pedestal, ten to one by no means violates the principles of art. Of the difficulty of raising it we are no judges. The able remarks of Heeren are exactly suited to the occasion, — “The circle of our experience is too limited for us to assign at once the scale of what is possible in other lands, in a different clime, and under other circumstances. Do not the Egyptian pyramids, the Chinese wall, and the rock temple at Elephanta, stand, as it were, in mockery of our criticism, which presumes to define the limits of the united power of whole nations?” 354
The material of the Colossus is worthy of notice. It is scarcely possible that it could be all of gold. Some, have thought it to have been hollow like the Colossus of Rhodes, which exceeded it in height by ten cubits. (Pliny His. Nat., 34 Section 18.) Chrysostom thought it made of wood, and only covered with gold plating, and certainly we have authority for such a view from Ex 39:38, where an altar made of acacia wood, and covered with gold, is termed golden; and that in Ex 39:39, merely covered with brass, is termed brazen. The immense treasures heaped together at Babylon favor the possibility of sufficient gold being at hand to cover so large a statue; while the weight of the golden statue of Bel, with its steps and seat, as recorded both by Herodotus and Diodorus, is far from sufficient to allow of their being massive gold throughout. Thus profane history becomes exceedingly valuable in enabling us to interpret correctly the language of the Old Testament. Many minds are inclined at once to discredit the erection of any such colossus all of gold; the mechanical and artistic difficulties are far too great; but when we find such historians giving us accounts of similar erections made of plated wood, or consisting of a mere hollow case, plated over, the whole of the difficulties vanish, everything is reduced at once within the bounds of credibility, the historical accuracy of Daniel is vindicated, the captious insinuations of disbelievers are repelled, and the mind of the earnest inquirer is at rest on the firm rock which patient investigation has provided for it.
Hengstenberg’s attention is occupied throughout this chapter with noticing the objections of his Neologian predecessors. De Wette, Bertholdt, and Bleek, have each attempted to discredit the historical veracity of Daniel. The period of the erection of the image — if ever erected at all — was that of Antiochus Epiphanes, say they, and his character is the supposed original of the fabulous Nebuchadnezzar, and the writer “merely invented these tales in order to inspire the Jews with fortitude under the religious persecutions of Antiochus.” 355 Bertholdt also considers the address of the three Jews to the king as an instance of “revolting insolence and levity;” while Theodoret is quoted as “being amazed at the courage of these youths, their wisdom, their piety,” in language exactly in the spirit of Calvin himself. 356 The preparation of the furnace has created some difficulty, especially when Chardin relates that a whole month has been taken up with feeding two ovens with fire, for the purpose of destroying criminals; but this objection is removed by the natural supposition that the king anticipated refusal, and had prepared beforehand to execute summary vengeance on all who disobeyed. “What result is gained by the miracle?” ask the disbelievers. “How disproportionate was the colossus,” he exclaims, “no such statue ever existed, no such miracle was ever performed.” But history puts to flight a whole host of conjectures, for Herodotus mentions a statue in the temple of Belus, and Diodorus Siculus confirms his account. 357 Hengstenberg has collected a long list of authorities in proof of the erection of such statues by the ancient monarchs of the East, and we refer to his valuable labors for a reply to objections, which are happily unknown to the majority of our readers.
THE NAMES OF THE MAGISTRATES.
Calvin has very judiciously declined to enter into the signification of each of these officers, as there is great difficulty in ascertaining the exact duties to be assigned to each. The best method of determining this point is to follow up the meaning of the corresponding words in the cognate languages of the East, and to bear in mind the officers of state at present in use. We will here state a few results of our researches, referring the reader for fuller information to Castell’s valuable Lexicon, and Rosenmuller’s and Wintle’s comments, and punctuating the words after the best foreign scholars.
אחשדרפניא, achas-dar-penaja, is derived from the Persian by both Castell and Rosenmuller; its meaning is majestatis janitores. Wintle translates correctly satraps.
סגניא signaja, is also Persian; Rosenmuller renders it supremus præfectus, and Wintle, “senators,” implying a viceroy of the first rank.
פחותא, pach-vatha, is clearly equivalent to the Oriental “pasha.”
אדרגזדיא, adar-gaz-raja, the Septuagint translates by “consuls,” and Theodotion and Jerome by “leaders,” and Wintle by “judges.”
גדבריא, gedab-raja, is commonly rendered “treasurers.”
דתבריא, dethab-raja, signifies the superior officers of the law.
תפתיא, tiph-taya, is clearly connected with the Turkish word mufti, who is the chief religious officer of the Mohamedan faith.
שלטני, sil-tonei, a general expression for “governors” Joseph Jacchiades has explained it fully in his Chaldee paraphrase.
Poole’s Synopsis may also be consulted with advantage. Oecolampadius departs here from his usual custom, by entering into the criticism of these words, and quoting Rabbi Saadias, the Septuagint, and the Chaldee paraphrasts.
THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
It is not possible to define, as Calvin reminds us, what these instruments were. Researches have been made into the etymology of the Chaldee words, and a comparison instituted between the properties implied and those of modern use and construction. Travelers in the East have compared the music of the present day with that recorded in this verse. A similarity, too, has been pointed out between the instruments of the Syrians and Greeks. As no practical advantage can arise from quoting the conjectures of various writers, we simply refer to Wintle and Rosenmuller in loc., where some interesting information is given in extenso. Poole’s Synopsis also supplies much verbal criticism. Oecolampadius passes by altogether any explanation of these instruments, but makes some very appropriate practical comments. True religious worship, he justly observes, does not need this variety of external incentive; a pure conscience with trust in God and obedience to his laws is the best music in his eyes, while he applauds Plato’s description of the best music which a soul can offer to its Creator. Antichrist, he asserts, delights in such outward and sensual gratification’s, while the advanced Christian worships in spirit, calmly, quietly, and inwardly. True religion is thus the antagonist of all outward and idolatrous service; it is not prompted by fear nor promoted by a tyrant’s command, but requiring no visible parade of instrumental minstrelsy, it worships with a cheerful heart and a free and buoyant spirit, inspired by the hope of everlasting life through the promises of God in Christ. This sentiment, although 300 years old, is worthy of the Reformer who uttered and maintained it.
THE SON OF GOD.
This translation of the Chaldee words לבר אלהין, leber-alehin, in our version is liable to mistake. Wintle has more correctly rendered them “a son of a god.” It was far more likely that the heathen king would express his astonishment in this way than allude to what he could not comprehend, the appearance of the Logos in human form. Calvin correctly states it to be “one of the angels.” Angels are called in Scripture, says Wells, sons of God, as in Job 1:6, and Job 38:7. “Some angelic appearance” is the correct comment of Wintle. Jerome takes it as a type of Christ descending into Hades, and Munter asserts it to be our Lord himself. Wells neither affirms nor denies this view, which has been held by a number of commentators who consider that the Logos appeared in human form on several occasions during patriarchal and Ante-Messianic times. Justin Martyr makes the same assertion when describing the pre-existence of the Logos to his philosophic persecutors. Willet leans to this view, after summing up a variety of opinions from able writers. Some of his reflections on the general narrative are edifying; but his discussion on the nature of angels is fancifully unprofitable, and his ignorance of natural science is singularly displayed in his treatment of the ordinary and extraordinary action of fire. Rosenmuller translates, “like a son of the gods,” that is an angel, and the writers quoted by Poole come to the same conclusion; but Oecolampadius, thinks the appearance to be that of Immanuel himself, and refers to other instances of his being visible to Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. He fortifies his view by quotations from Chrysostom, Apollinarius, and other ecclesiastical authorities.
This is the correct rendering of the word עיר, gnir, but it has been conjectured that its meaning is the same as ציר, tzir, being the Chaldee word for “a messenger.” Jerome ingeniously conjectures it to be the same as the Greek word Iris, the messenger of heaven. In Job 36:30, the Hebrew is איר, air, where Origen reads Irin according to Archbishop Seeker. Willet replies to the question “why the angels are called watchmen,” and quotes Calvin’s reason with approbation. Rosenmuller approves of Jerome’s conjecture, and adduces Hom. Odys., lib. 18:5, in confirmation of it. He takes “the watcher and holy one” as a hendia-dys, reminding us that in Job 15:15, angels are called “holy ones” by the figure autonomasia. The Scholia of the Alexandrine Codex interpret the word eir, as equivalent to angel, and Isidorus Pelusiota, according to Rosenmuller, (Ep. 177, lib. 2,) considers the word to refer to the chief of angels. The Syrians in their hymns join watchers with angels as rejoicing over converted sinners, according to the learned editors of the Chisian Codex, page 127, edit. Rom. See also Critica Sacra, volume 7, edit. Frcof. The view of Oecolampadius is similar to those already expressed, but he takes the word “watcher” in the sense of an exciter or herald of divine punishment. R. Saadias supposes a terrible destroyer to be intended.
THE MADNESS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR.
THE narrative of this chapter has met with much disbelief among the skeptical school of theology. The want of corresponding profane history is a subject of complaint. Origen found himself deserted by all ancient historians, and Jerome searched them in vain for any confirmation of the sacred text. We must remember, however, that the historians whom we reckon ancient, are very modern with reference to these early times. Megasthenes, for instance, wrote rather earlier than Berosus, about 280 A.C., at the court of Seleucus Nicator, king of Babylon, and we have only portions of their writings second hand. Diocles, the author of a Persian history, and Abydenus, of an Assyrian and Median, obtained their materials from Chaldee traditions, many ages after the events recorded. The Chaldee chroniclers, Hengstenberg assures us, were, notorious for their national vanity and boasting, 358 and were not likely to record anything derogatory to their earliest hero. But even Bertholdt is compelled to confess that Abydenus has preserved a legend similar to the narrative of this chapter. “On ascending the roof of his palace, he became inspired by some god, and delivered himself as follows: — Babylonians! I Nebuchadnezzar foretell you a calamity that is to happen, which neither my ancestor Bel nor queen Beltis can persuade the Fates to avert. There shall come a Persian mule, (one having parents of different countries,) having your own gods in alliance with him, and shall impose servitude upon you, with the head of a Mede, the boast of the Assyrians.” 359 Now madness and inspiration were usually connected by the ancients; the time and place too, correspond with Daniel’s narrative; the extasis occurred after the completion of his conquests, and the phrase, “by some god,” refers to a foreign deity, whom we know to be the Jehovah of the Hebrews. The narrative of the frenzy which rendered him unfit for government, is allowed to be credible by the chief skeptics of the continent. Michaelis allows “that this calamity more frequently attacks great and extraordinary minds than ordinary men.” Our physicians can now explain the reason through their improved knowledge of the brain and its functions. Pathological and psychological science is here more useful than all the conjectures of disbelieving theologians. In the early days of the Church, the greatest difficulty was found in taking this narrative literally: hence expositors treated it as an allegory. The king was held to represent Satan falling from heaven, and the whole account of his dwelling with the beasts of the field was taken figuratively, and rejected historically. Jerome, however, while he records this view at great length, adheres to the literal account. 360
The disbelief of the narrative above referred to may have arisen from an erroneous interpretation of the sacred text. For some writers have affirmed a complete metamorphosis of the man into the beast; a conclusion by no means warranted by the language of the passage. Tertullian has correctly explained the clause, “his hair became like eagle’s feathers,” by capilli incuria horrorem aquilinum præferente, since it was a natural consequence of his wild mode of life, and a usual mark of the sensualizing effect of prolonged insanity. And with reference to the time of this affliction, Hengstenberg quotes Calvin with approbation, for agreeing with the idea of an indefinite period implied by the word “seven.” Calvin, however, inclines too much towards the theory of the indefinite use of definite numbers. There seems no good reason why the number “seven” should not be taken strictly and literally, nor why the word “times” עדנון, gni-danin, should not mean years. Even Hengstenberg gives way too much to the plausible conceits of his wily antagonists. Rosenmuller correctly limits the expression to seven years, a period by no means unnatural for the continuance of a highly excited state of the brain, producing mania, accompanied by all the symptoms mentioned in this chapter. Oecolampadius views it as a case of mental disease, and quotes many similar narratives from Aben-Ezra, Pausanias, and Augustine, bringing forward the fables of the heathen poets, as illustrating the passage. For the opinion of Tertullian, and various Jewish and continental writers, Kitto’s Bibl. Cyclop. may be consulted, especially as the view there set forth by Dr. Wright is sound, judicious, and practical.
THE EDICT OF PRAISE.
This monarch probably lived but a single year after his recovery; and some writers have thought that his restoration produced a conversion to the worship of the one true God. But Hengstenberg agrees with our author: “Compare Calvin on the passages,” says he, “who strikingly proves from them the incorrectness of the opinion of very many expositors as to the radical and entire conversion of Nebuchadnezzar.” Calvin is clearly right, for it was customary with the Persians to blend the doctrines of Zoroaster with the Babylonian astrology. 361 The scriptural language of the king has been treated as an argument against the authenticity of the decree. Eichhorn and Bertholdt object to his speaking like an orthodox Jew in the phraseology of the Old Testament. But the affinity of certain phrases with other passages of Scripture, is no argument against its authenticity. The monarch had held much intercourse with Daniel; he had doubtless heard his method of expressing reverence and respect for the one true God, and he would repeat such expressions the more exactly in proportion to his want of personal experience of their meaning. In the case of the edict of Cyrus, brief as it is, several references are found to the prophecies of Isaiah. 362 As to the change of person from the third to the first, Hengstenberg approves of Calvin’s suggestion. Oecolampadius considers the king really converted, and through knowing the angel to be the Christ, he supposes him not only a convert, but an apostle. This is far too favorable a view of his character; but it is instructive to ascertain the decisions of various eminent Reformers, and to observe which of them stands the scrutinizing test of an appeal to posterity.
BELSHAZZAR AND THE FEAST.
Dan. 5:1, 2.
This monarch is here said to be the son of Nebuchadnezzar. The Duke of Manchester takes this literally, while the usual opinion is that he was his grandson. “No king,” says he, “in Berosus, Megasthenes, or Polyhistor, corresponds with him. The Scripture says that Nebuchadnezzar was his father, which most people say means grandfather, and it is not to be denied, that by son, grandson may be intended; but in this case it is contrary to all the evidence we have on the subject. The author of the Scholastical History reports that Belshazzar was son of the daughter of Darius. Nebuchadnezzar the Second did, as I conceive, marry the daughter of Darius, which would make Belshazzar his son. But admitting that Belshazzar was paternal grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, none of the successors of Nebuchadnezzar could have been in that relation to him.” The Persian writer Merkhond is the next quoted, by whose help the duke identifies Ka’oos with Nebuchadnezzar the First, Afrasiab with Astyages, and Siyawesh, the son of Ka’oos, with Belshazzar. It is then conjectured that this king never reigned except during his father’s lifetime: if he was “the king” during his father’s madness, the omission of his name by profane historians is thus accounted for. An Oxford MS. is quoted to shew “that Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar were reigning at Babylon when Darius and Coresch were reigning over Persia. 363
This hypothesis interferes so much with the ordinary deductions from ancient historians, that we must not pass it over without special notice.
The received hypothesis has been so clearly stated by Wells, that reference to it is all that is needed. 364 Jeremiah (Jer 27:6) had predicted that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was to be prolonged through the life of his son and his son’s son. Ptolemy’s Astronomical Canon is the best known authority for the history of Nebuchadnezzar’s successors, as we have detailed them in a former Dissertation, and they are also found in a readable form in Stackhouse’s History of the Bible. 365 The last of these kings is Nabonadius, and he is supposed to be the same as the Nabonnedus of Berosus, the Labynetus of Herodotus, and the Belshazzar of Daniel. 366 During his reign, says Berosus, the walls of the city near the river were strengthened by brick-work and bitumen; and in its seventeenth year Cyrus advanced against Babylon, the king met him with a large army, but was defeated, and then enclosed himself within Borsippa. Cyrus then took Babylon, and having determined to pull down its outer fortifications, he returned to Borsippa and besieged it. Nabonnedus then gave himself up, and Cyrus permitted him to close his life peaceably in Carmania, where he remained till his death. The narrative of Herodotus is slightly at variance with this. Cyrus made war against Labynetus, the son of Nitocris, a very spirited and powerful queen, and succeeded to the kingdom of Assyria “from his fathers.” 367 Having turned the stream of the river Euphrates, he entered the city through its bed, and when the center was captured, those who dwelt at the extremities were ignorant of their disaster, for they “were celebrating a festival that day with dancing and all manner of rejoicing, till they received certain information of the general fate. And thus Babylon was the first time taken.” Herodotus also records its second capture through the treachery of Zopyrus, in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, (lib. 3 section. 159;) and with this second capture the noble duke supposes the scriptural narrative to be co-incident.
The Cyropaedia of Xenophon affords its testimony to a similar event, and as its historic value has been altogether denied, we cannot certainly pronounce the event the same. Vitringa has vindicated its historical truth, and Gesenius and Bertholdt have admitted it. Hengstenberg quotes lib. 7 section. 5, combines it with Herod., lib. 1 section. 191, and remarks, “This testimony of Xenophon, too, is so much the more in our favor, as it confirms the particular circumstance that the nobles were at the feast assembled at the table of the king.” 368 He adds, “The precise agreement of Daniel with Herodotus and Xenophon is acknowledged by Munter, 50 100 page 67, to be astonishing, and even Gesenius, Z. Jes. 1, page 655, cannot help calling it very astonishing.” For a fuller discussion of all details, we refer at length to his conclusive work, merely giving our vote in his favor, and against the ingenious hypothesis which it has become necessary to state and explain.
The Great Feast. — The original word for feast is “bread,” and this being united with “wine,” becomes the usual mode of describing an eastern feast, where the people are all great eaters of bread. “To eat bread,” and to “set on bread,” is the scriptural method of indicating a feast. The number of the guests may not have amounted to a thousand, as this is an eastern expression for a large and surprising number, yet it is not incredible, since Harmer has informed us that “a quadrangular court, within the first or outer gate of the palace, was made use of for this purpose.” 369 Willet reminds us of this eastern way of multiplying numbers by alluding to the 10,000 guests said to be present at Alexander’s feast, and each of whom received a golden cup. Ptolemy, the father of Cleopatra, made a similar banquet for Pompey. It is supposed to have been an annual solemnity in honor of some deity, and the art of “tasting of the wine” (verse 2) alludes to the custom of tasting the libation previous to the sacrifice. Wintle very appositely quotes Virgil, AEn. lib. i. 741, —
“Primaque libato summo tenus attigit ore.”
This view is rendered highly probable by the Chaldean custom recorded by Athenaeus, 370 of sacrificing to small images, of various metals, in human shape, an idolatry described in Baruch, Daniel 6: 3. Willet quotes Junius as stating that this feast occurred on the 16th day of the month Loon, when it approached in character the Saturnalia and Bacchanalia of the Greeks. “Tasting the wine” is rendered by the Vulgate and the Alexandrine version as if its sense were “drunken,” and thus the general idea of licentious revelry is carried out.
Calvin doubts whether this was the wife or grandmother of Belshazzar. But there is another possible solution. Prideaux supposes she was the mother of the king, following the narrative of Herodotus, though Grotius and Josephus represent her as the widow of Nebuchadnezzar. The author of “The Times of Daniel” differs from the received view of the times of Nitocris; she reigned, he concludes, “in the generation before Nebuchadnezzar’s father.” Her name is not found in the Astronomical Canon, and consequently either Herodotus or the Canon must be mistaken. Nitocris, says Herodotus, lived five generations after Semiramis, but then, according to Bryant, eight different periods have been assigned for his reign, between A.C. 2177 and 713. Notwithstanding the celebrity which Herodotus has conferred upon his name, it is impossible now to ascertain whether she was the queen-mother alluded to in the text, but it is equally injudicious to pronounce positively that she was not. Hengstenberg has discussed this question with his usual sagacity. Heeren makes her the contemporary of Nebuchadnezzar, and probably his wife; but Hengstenberg inclines to the view of her being the queen-mother. “We may then justly compare what Herodotus says of Nitocris with that which occurs here of the queen, and it only need be quoted to shew a perfect agreement.” 371 Rosenmuller agrees with Jerome in thinking her the widow of Nebuchadnezzar, and Oecolampadius adopts the same view, when commenting with great spirit and animation on this point.
THE HAND-WRITING ON THE WALL.
We are constantly reminded of the necessity of a knowledge of words, if we would interpret aright the Word of God. That record which is emphatically “The Word,” is composed in detail of many words, and it is literally impossible so to understand Holy Scripture as to expound it fully, without a knowledge and use of single expressions. This remark is peculiarly applicable in the present instance. Calvin takes each word separately in the perfect tense, while in the Arabic, the past participle is used, viz., mensuratum, appensum, divisum.
מנא, mene, is the participle pihel of the verb מנא, mana, numeravit, meaning to set bounds to the continuance of anything.
תקל, tekel, is the Chaldee word for the Hebrew שקל, shekel, to weigh — the shekel being a standard weight of silver money. The reference is to the Almighty weighing in the balances of Justice the conduct of the king.
ופרסיף, upharsin — et dividentes; Calvin thus literally, and Rosenmuller explains that the active participle plural is taken impersonally, and is thus equal to the part. pass. sing. The ending ן, n, it must be recollected, is the Chaldee equivalent for the Hebrew ם
The allusion to the balance in relation to a kingdom is common among ancient classical writers. Homer, Iliad, lib. 22 and Virgil, AEn., lib. 12, contain instances; as well as the Paradise Lost, Book 6.
THE MEDES AND PERSIANS.
IT is highly interesting to the student of prophecy to trace the origin and progress of these empires which have gained repute in the history of our race. This interest is increased when we discover that the narratives of profane writers illustrate the sacred text. And as great efforts have been made to impugn the authenticity of this Book, we must again refer to some of the arguments which induce the best divines to rely on its historical accuracy.
The history of Media and its people frequently impinges upon the eccentric orbit of the Jewish tribes. It has been supposed that the name of the country was derived from כדי, chadi, the third son of Japhet, but this conjecture is rendered futile, when we remember that the first establishment of the kingdom dates only 150 years before Cyrus. It must never be forgotten, when treating of these early times, how very modern all writers are who lived after the times of Solomon. To us they appear ancient, and their authority for the truth of an event conclusive; but those historians of Asia, upon whom we are compelled to rely, lived many ages after the occurrences which they record. It seems now to be admitted, that we have lost many centuries between the flood and Abraham; hence the attempt to assign the origin of any empire to the immediate descendants of Noah is highly deceptive. We can only take the best testimony which we have, but with it we must correct the uncertainty of even the most positive assertions. The Medes, if we may trust Herodotus, were an offset from the Assyrians. They broke off from their sway, after the Assyrians had held the empire of Upper Asia for five hundred and twenty years. The interesting story of Deioces, and the foundation of Ecbatana is recorded, the account of that city corresponding precisely with that handed down to us in the Book of Judith. 372 In process of time the neighboring tribes were subdued and united, till Phraortes, having reduced the Persians under his dominion, led the united nations against the Assyrians. Cyaxares his son succeeded him, and both extended and consolidated the Median sway. Astyages, the grandfather of Cyrus, was his son and successor; and during the whole period of these monarchs’ reigns province after province was added to the growing empire. The constant testimony of history from Herodotus to Ctesias asserts the acquisition of Media by Cyrus to have been a forcible seizure. Here our chief object is to impress upon the reader the scantiness of our early materials, and the distance of time at which some of the historians who record them lived after the events. Ctesias, for instance, was a young physician at the Court of Artaxerxes, the brother of Cyrus the younger. Although he wrote twenty-three books of Persian history, we have but a few fragments collected by the diligence of Photion. Our attention is therefore turned with the greatest earnestness towards the deciphering of the monuments which abound on the banks of the rivers of Babylonia, and throughout the whole land of Shinar. These have become the best evidence in favor of the trustworthiness of Daniel, and against the ingenious and inconsistent guesses of neology.
M. M. J. Baillie Fraser and W. Francis Ainsworth have treated the geological and geographical portion of the subject with great success; the former in his work on “Mesopotamia and Assyria,” and the latter in “Geological Researches.” See also the two papers on “The rivers and cities of Babylonia” by the latter writer, in the New Monthly Magazine, August and September, 1845. The Duke of Manchester has collected much information from ancient historians, but has not availed himself of the antiquarian researches, which describe and identify the mounds and ruins at present in existence. Vaux’s “Nineveh and Persepolis” also affords much material illustrative of this portion of Daniel.
DARIUS THE MEDE.
THE received views respecting this celebrated monarch have lately been impugned by the noble author of “The Times of Daniel.” He gives five reasons for believing him to be Darius Hystaspes instead of the Cyaxares of Xenophon, the uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus. This assertion will therefore require some notice in detail, and compel us to repeat some statements with which the student of ancient history is familiar.
The views of the author already alluded to are, thus expressed, — “Three kings,” it is said, “of the name of Darius occur in Scripture; must we not presume that the first Darius there corresponds with Darius the first in profane history? that the second in each equally agree; and that the third Darius, with whom the list terminates in Scripture, is the third Darius with whom the line of Persian kings closes?” There are strong marks in corroboration of the Median of this verse being Hystaspes; some of these are as follows: — First, each is said to have taken Babylon. Both levied taxes, so that the second verse of chapter. 6 is said to be parallel to Herodotus, Book 3, and Strabo, 373 Book 15. This levying taxes leads to a similar assertion respecting Ahasuerus in Esther, Es 10:1, who reigned “from India even to Ethiopia.” (Es 1:1.) “Now, Ahash-verosh, (meaning Ahasuerus,) who succeeded Darius the Median, reigned over India,” and, according to Herodotus, Darius Hystaspes conquered India; hence this Mede was Darius Hystaspes. Pliny’s testimony is brought forward to shew that Susa was built by this Darius; 374 Ahasuerus resided at Shushan, which is identical with Susa, hence the conclusion is the same. Other reasons are given, and other collateral assertions made. Authorities are quoted by which it is laid down that Ahasuerus was Xerxes, the history of Esther occurred during the captivity, the son of Ahasuerus was Darius Nothus, the third Darius was Codomanus. “To complete the evidence, I will contrast the identification which I propose with that which is now most generally approved of.” 375
CANON OF PTOLEMY
SCRIPTURE AS I PROPOSE
Darius the First
Darius the Median.
Artaxerxes the First.
Artaxerxes the First, (Coresch.)
Darius the Second.
Darius the Second.
Artaxerxes the Second.
Son of Ahashverosh.
Artaxerxes the Second.
Darius the Third.
Darius the Third, (fourth from Coresch, Daniel 11.)
It is also suggested that Jeremiah 50 and Jeremiah 51 of Jeremiah apply to this Darius and not to Cyrus, as Dr. Keith asserts. Jer 51:11 and 28, are said to apply to Zopyrus, and the language of the chapter is on the whole more suitable to the capture of Babylon by this Darius, according to Herodotus, Book 3, than to that by Cyrus.
The commonly received view is stated shortly by Rosenmuller, — that this Mede was the Cyaxares II. of Xenophon, 376 the son of Astyages, the uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus. AEschylus, in his tragedy of the Persae, 377 introduces Darius the son of Hystaspes, recounting his origin from Darius the Mede. Josephus, in the tenth Book of his Antiquities, says he was the son of Astyages; and Theodoret, in his Commentary, identifies him with Cyaxares. Jerome states that, in conjunction with his uncle Cyrus, he subverted the Chaldean empire.
“If Xenophon’s account of Cyrus be in general admitted,” 378 says Wintle, “we cannot be at a loss to determine who was Darius the Mede; and if even the defeat of Astyages be received according to Herodotus, and it be placed in the tenth year of Cyrus’s reign over Persia Proper, yet there seems no necessity to conclude but that the kingdom of Media might still, with the consent of Cyrus, be continued to Cyaxares, his mother’s brother, who might retain it till his death, after the conquest of Babylon, which Herodotus attributes to Cyrus, after he had reduced the neighboring powers.” He next proceeds to obviate one or two chronological difficulties often considered as weighty objections to Xenophon’s account. “The name of Darius is omitted in the Canon, although he is allowed to have reigned more than one year, if he reigned at all. How shall we then reconcile his history with the Canon? and where or in what part must this reign be placed? The same answer will serve for both inquiries. The Canon certainly allots nine years to Cyrus over Babylon, of which space the two former years are usually allowed to coincide with the reign of Cyaxares or Darius the Mede by the advocates of Xenophon.” A MS. of Archbishop Secker is then quoted, in which he gives reasons why Berosus might have overlooked this reign as short-lived and nominal. Prideaux and Usher, and the Ancient Universal History, are referred to for additional information. 379 With reference to the period before us, it is concluded, from the close of this Daniel 5, “that Darius the Mede did not begin his reign till after the capture of Babylon; and this event I am inclined to place in the next year after the 17th of Nabonadius, in the 210th year of the Chaldean era, or 538 years before Christ, which was the first of Cyrus’s nine years. Whether the defeat of Nabonadius and the taking of the city happened near the same time, I need not determine; but it seems clear from Daniel, (Da 5:31,) as well as from Xenophon, that the king was slain on the same night that the city was taken; and this, I apprehend, must have happened about the real year of the captivity 67, supposing the fourth of Jehoiakim to agree with the year 605 before Christ, according to Blair.”
Here again the researches of Hengstenberg afford us valuable aid in discussing and reconciling the various statements of historians. The silence of Herodotus and Ctesias concerning a Median king of Babylon is noticed, and even concealment on the part of the Persians is shewn to be highly probable.
CAPTURE OF BABYLON.
IF the period of the city’s capture could be accurately determined, many difficulties would be cleared up. Calvin supposes it to have occurred in the last and eighth year of Belshazzar’s reign, but the majority of commentators place it in the seventeenth or eighteenth year. Willet makes his third year his last, as also Bullinger and Oecolampadius, and this is done by following the short Hebrew Chronicle, which places it at the fifty-second year of the desolation of Jerusalem, and the seventieth of the kingdom of Babylon. The Oriental Chronicle, according to the author of “The Times of Daniel,” assigns twenty years, and the Alexandrian Chronicle only four to this monarch; and such being the conflicting testimony of the most ancient and authentic documents, it naturally happens that modern writers select their own dates and their own systems according, first, to their own acquaintance with the subject; and next, to their own judgment of the best selection of authorities which can be made. The only class of divines who appear disingenuous in such selections are those Germans who attempt to impugn the historical accuracy of this Prophet, by tacitly assuming that there is no real, and positive, and consistent knowledge to be obtained from profane writers, and then by asserting that a pseudo-Daniel has displayed either ignorance, carelessness, or deception. They appeal to the historians of Greece, as if they were contemporary with the events which they record, and prefer throwing doubt upon the sacred narrative, to sifting the evidence upon which they believe the profane.
THE THREE PRESIDENTS.
This division of the kingdom into 120 provinces is exactly in accordance with the assertion of Xenophon, who says that Cyrus appointed satraps over the conquered nations. Usher, in his Annals, thinks that Darius followed the suggestion of Cyrus, who instituted this method of government. This verse is reconciled with the first of Esther, by remembering that after the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses, and of Thrace and India by Darius Hystaspes, seven provinces were added to the number. Junius, according to Willet, states, that after spending a year in settling the affairs of Babylon, he resigned all power to Darius. He approves of Calvin’s phrase, “regnare in commune,” implying the joint reign of both kings. Josephus is in error in multiplying the number by three. The reason for the appointment of these presidents may be understood variously. The Latin interpreter, says Willet, translatesנזק , nezek, by molestiam, meaning “trouble,” Darius is represented as sixty-two years of age, and naturally fatigued by the wear and tear of an active life. Daniel is elevated to an office equivalent to that of the Turkish grand Vizier, and the crime imputed to him seems similar to that of Rome — “crimen laesae majestatis,” a kind of high treason. The word עלה, gnillah, (Da 6:4,) is translated by Wintle very appropriately “action” in the forensic sense, equivalent to the Greek aijtiva. These presidents and princes came in concourse and tumultuously before the king. The Vulgate “surripuerunt,” came by stealth, is disapproved by Wintle.
Daniel 6:7. The Decree by which Daniel was entrapped has occasioned the special cavil of Bertholdt and his adherents. They have treated it as an erroneous fiction, but have been appositely refuted by Hengstenberg. Oriental kings, he reminds us, were often treated as objects of exclusive worship. Heeren has stated “that the kings of the Medes and Persians were regarded and worshipped as representations and incarnations of Ormuzd.” 380 In the sacred books of the Zend religion, “Iran, the Medo-Bactrian kingdom under Gustasp, is to him the image of the kingdom of Ormuzd; the king himself the image of Ormuzd; Turan, the northern nomad land, where Afrasiat rules, is the image of the kingdom of darkness, under the rule of Ahriman.” The king was the visible manifestation of Ormuzd, like him, commanding, with unlimited power, the seven princes of the empire; next in rank to him were the representatives of the seven Amshaspands, who stood round the throne of Ormuzd. Similar testimony respecting the worship paid to the monarchs of the East, is given by Plutarch, Xenophon, Socrates, and Arrian. Curtius distinctly asserts, that the Persians worshipped their kings among their gods, so that the credibility of Daniel is fully vindicated by the records of profane antiquity. On the royal tombs at Persepolis, there are various sculptures representing the Persian kings as gods, and in De Sacy’s Persian inscriptions, they are termed the offspring of gods.
Daniel 6:10 Daniel’s Conduct And Prayer, as here recorded, have been questioned by some German critics, on the ground of practices and usages as yet unknown in Upper Asia. The custom of praying towards Jerusalem, it is said, did not arise among the Jews living abroad, till after the rebuilding of the temple. But it must not be forgotten that it prevailed among the Jews from early times. David prayed towards the sanctuary, and raised his hands towards it. The Dedication prayer of Solomon contains a distinct injunction to the same effect. The very place, says Stolberg, where the temple had stood and was again to stand, was holy to Daniel. 381 The hours, at which the Prophet offered up his prayer are said to belong to the fine-spun religiousness of the later Jews. But this assertion is made in forgetfulness of the ancient custom of all nations to have fixed and invariable periods for the worship of their deities. Willet approves of Calvin’s comments on this passage, and Oecolampadius considers it a thanksgiving for the encouraging beginning, happy success, and prosperous end of our undertakings. Willet also discusses the propriety of Daniel’s exposing himself thus openly to the malice of his enemies, after he knew of the king’s decree. He agrees on the whole with the practical comment of Calvin, and adduces it as an example of perseverance in the line of duty, in full confidence of the protecting power of God, and in defiance of all the malice of the most inveterate foes.
Daniel 6:10. The Open Windows Towards Jerusalem. — Various writers have supposed this action of the Prophet’s to be the result of ostentation. Calvin has treated this point ably, and Wetstein, in his Notes on Ac 1:13, has explained the nature of “the upper chamber” in the Jewish houses, and their use either as oratories or for other solemn or festive purposes. Shaw, in his Travels, alludes to their structure and use. The light was usually admitted into these upper rooms through large windows, and the Jews naturally turned towards Jerusalem in prayer, with earnest longing for speedy deliverance. The “three times a-day” has been used by Bellarmine 382 as an argument for the canonical hours of the Romish Church, and Pintus goes further to insist on seven, according to Psalm 119. But all these arguments which enforce Christian duties by Jewish practices are erroneous. Calvin’s principle is judiciously stated, but it is founded on enlightened and Christian common sense, and not in a blind adherence to Jewish traditions. Similar principles should guide us as to praying towards the east. Oecolampadius refers to the supposed Apostolic tradition of worshipping towards the east, but he reprobates it as superstitious. Nos patriam nostram in cælis habemus, et a Deo originem. Irenaeus 383 ascribes this superstition as a heresy to the Ebionites. Daniel’s open profession of his faith in God has been censured as too bold and in judged for our imitation, but it has also been ably vindicated as an example of perseverance in religious duty when our conscience justifies us in maintaining God’s truth before men. Willet approves of Calvin’s distinction “of Confession, that it is of two sorts, cum palam testamur, quod est in animo, et ne aliquod perversoe simulationis signum demus.”
While this sheet is passing through the press, a very illustrative work, confirming the historical accuracy of Daniel, has been published, entitled “Nineveh And Its Palaces: the Discoveries of Botta and Layard applied to the elucidation of Holy Writ; by Joseph Bonomi, F.R.S.L.” It contains the latest and best interpretations of the cuneiform inscriptions, and is worthy of attentive perusal.
THE KING’S DECEASE.
Could we ascertain accurately when death closed “the reign of Darius,” most of the controversies concerning the history of these times and personages would be set at rest. We have first to determine who Darius was? and secondly, to discover whether a portion of his reign is contemporaneous with that of Cyrus? With respect to the first point, it ought to be fully understood that there is no actual correspondence between this monarch and any well-attested ruler mentioned in profane history. The balance of probabilities is in favor of his being Cyaxares, but we have already stated how Xenophon, Ctesias, and Herodotus differ on the point; and we are careful to repeat this, because the futility of the Neologian arguments might otherwise entrap the unwary. For instance, Dr. Wells has the following Note: — “It is to be observed that in Ptolemy’s Canon the two years of Darius the Mede’s reign are reckoned to Cyrus, who accordingly has therein nine years assigned for his reign; whereas Xenophon assigns but seven years to it, reckoning the first year the same as Ezra doth, viz., from the death of Darius and Cambyses.” Wintle again states, “there is no doubt but Darius the Mede, whoever he was, reigned, according to Daniel, from the capture of Babylon till this same first year of Cyrus, or till the commencement of the reign allotted by Scripture to Cyrus the Persian.” (Preface, where reference is made to a Memoir by M. Freret, containing many just and accurate dates assigned to the life and transactions of Cyrus.) The reader cannot fail to perceive that this sentence leaves the two important questions in as much doubt as ever. Dr. Eadie, of the American Presbyterian Church, states, too, positively, “The kingdom of Babylon was given by Cyrus to Darius the Mede, or Cyaxares II., as a reward for his services; and after his death, at the end of two years, this kingdom returned to Cyrus, and hence Cyrus is spoken of as if he were the successor of Darius at Babylon. Da 6:28.” — (Art., Daniel, in his Bibl. Cycl.) Willet informs us that Tertullian and Cyril of Jerusalem took Darius for Darius Hystaspes, and the noble Duke, to whom we have already referred, agrees in this opinion, and argues very elaborately in its favor.
The German Neologians have not been slow to construct a charge of inaccuracy against Daniel, in consequence of these historic difficulties. Bertholdt, Bleek, and De Wette, treat it as an error to call Cyaxares II by the name of Darius, and suppose it a confusion with the son of Hystaspes. But before the commentator on Scripture ventures to use the phrase, “historic inaccuracy,” he must first clearly ascertain what historic accuracy really is. An unlearned reader might suppose from their reasonings that all the profane historians agreed in their accounts, and that the only element of confusion was that introduced by the narrative of Scripture. But the truth is far otherwise. No two authors agree in their statements throughout. Ancient history is, in fact, simply an ideal deduction from a variety of conflicting traditions. Of Cyaxares II., for instance, neither Herodotus nor Justin say anything. Neither of them mention any son of Astyages. Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and Polyaenus, agree with them in asserting that the Median empire closed with Astyages, and the Persian began at once with Cyrus; and yet there is evidence to shew that Darius the Mede was a real person. “Still farther,” says Hengstenberg, “the author agrees in another special fact with profane history. Xenophon relates 384 that soon after the taking of Babylon, the conquered lands were divided into provinces, and governors set over them. All this is stated in our book, too.” Are we, indeed, to infer, from a mere difference of names, that the author is chargeable with confounding them? The Cambyses of profane writers is called in the book of Ezra, Achaschverosh (Ahasuerus). Pseudo-smerdis bears in profane writers two different names — in Ctesias, Spendates; in Justin, Oropastes; and in Ezra he appears under a third name, Artachshasta (Artaxerxes). “Now, why is this appearance in all other cases unanimously explained on the ground that the names of kings were not nomina propria, but surnames, whilst, on the contrary, in this single instance, this explanation is not once proposed as possible? And yet in this very case this explanation is quite natural, since it is generally allowed that the name Darius in particular is an appellation. That it was a mere title appears from this, that several different kings bear it.” Herbelot says the name Dara is Persian, and appellative, signifying “sovereign.” 385
When we descend to the historians of the Christian era, we find in the Armenian Chronicle of Eusebius a confirmation of the narrative under review. In a short appendix to a fragment of Abydenus, found also in the Praeparatio Evangelica, Darius is distinctly mentioned as king; so that if it be impossible to be certain as to the identity of this king with Cyaxares, yet it must be remembered that profane history, independently of Scripture, is at variance with itself, and that no new clement of discord is introduced by our Prophet. Let the objector first settle what the events connected with the overthrow of Babylon from uninspired authorities really were, and we shall then be prepared to shew that the writer of this book was free from inaccuracies, and that all the obscurity hovering over the subject arises from our very imperfect knowledge of the occurrences of this period. And the more fully the assertions of the Neologists are investigated, the more baseless will their charges against this Prophet of Jehovah appear.
THE PROLONGATION OF DANIEL’S LIFE.
THE prolongation of our Prophet’s life till the era specified in this verse, is worthy of our notice, that we may, if possible, accurately ascertain his age at leading periods of his history. We cannot ascertain precisely the year of his entrance into public life. He was born shortly before King Josiah’s death, probably about 620 B.C.; and thus he had many opportunities of cultivating that early piety for which he was conspicuous. He was about fourteen years old when taken captive to Babylon. Three years afterwards, the king of Israel threw off the Babylonian yoke, and thus he and his companions became hostages and forerunners of the capture of the whole nation. From Jahn’s Biblical Antiquities, we learn how skilled he was in various sciences after three years’ training, (pages 99, 100;) and the high opinion which was entertained of his integrity, wisdom, and piety, is confirmed by this remarkable honor paid to him by the Prophet Ezekiel. He is connected, while alive, with Noah and Job. (See Eze 14:14, and Calvin’s comment on the passage in our Edition, volume 2.)
The dream and its interpretation in Daniel 2 occurred during Daniel’s youth, and resulted in his promotion with his three friends to the highest offices of the kingdom. We now lose sight of him for thirty years, and it is impossible to determine whether he sat at the king’s gate during the whole of this period. The erection of the image on the plains of Dura, and the subsequent punishment of his three companions, seem inconsistent with his residence at that time at Babylon as an adviser of his sovereign. The three “children,” as they are termed in Da 1:17, were now about fifty years of age; and it has become necessary to remark this, because some have spoken of them as still children when thus miraculously delivered from destruction. We too often take for granted impressions of this kind, which we have imperceptibly imbibed in our earliest days; and besides this, the works of the great masters in painting have fostered the error. These splendid productions of European art are often glaringly untrue, yet while based upon fabulous anachronisms, they too often adhere to the imagination, and influence our thoughts in days of more mature advancement. At the period of the dream in Daniel 4 Daniel was about fifty years of age; and thus we have another gap of about fifteen years. Belshazzar had now ascended his grandfather’s throne. The mystic characters on the wall soon reveal a fearful reality. Darius the Mede still esteems the upright counselor, and he had become a venerable “ancient of days” before he is thrust into the lion’s den. During the first year of King Darius, he learned, from the Book of Jeremiah, the approaching period of Judah’s deliverance. During the third year of Cyrus, he is favored with a vision on the banks of the Tigris. (Jer 10:1-4.) We cannot ascertain how long he lived after this period, but he was at least eighty years of age when he died. Various assertions and traditions exist among the Jews respecting both the time and place of his decease, and these have passed current, through the unsuspecting simplicity of some of our older expounders, who record as certain the hazardous statements of the authorities on which they rely. Dr. Wells, after comparing various dates, concludes, “that Daniel was about eighty-nine or ninety years old in the third year of Cyrus;” he pays no regard to the conjectures of some, who make him to have lived one hundred and thirty-eight, or one hundred and fifty years, and adds the possibility of his reaching one hundred years.
Our object in view in impressing this chronology is to disabuse the public mind of the Romish ideas connected with what they term, “The song of the three children.” Their usual method of treating these three martyrs for truth and holiness is utterly erroneous, and like every other error of theirs, injurious and pernicious in proportion as it deviates from the Written And Infallible Word Of The Living God.
Having brought our Dissertations on the Historical portion of this sacred book to a close, we have still another duty to discharge in editing these Commentaries. We have already defended our Reformer from the charges of the German Neologist, and from the censures of the fanciful expounders of prophecy; We have now merely to offer a few comments on the Practical Inferences which Calvin so ably draws from the inspired narrative. While perusing this volume, the reader must often have felt the difference between the state of the world in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and his own. Those were emphatically days of visions, and marvels, and visibly divine interpositions. We, on the contrary, pass on along the even tenor of the walk of life, without expecting to behold a hand-writing on the wall, or to experience the all-devouring heat of a “burning fiery furnace.” We see no vision in the night season foretelling the wonders of an unknown future, and expect neither magician nor prophet to expound with the authority of heaven the images of our sleeping hours. Yet, with our Reformer, we see the world agitated in all quarters with unexpected revolutions. Oppression, and intrigue, and tyranny, prevail among the rulers of Europe and of Christendom, and there seems no human means adequate to the task of stemming the tide of recklessness and infidelity as it overflows the nations. If these comments on scriptural prophecy are to be useful in our day and generation, they need some connecting links of interpretation which may apply the general principles enunciated to the practical problem to be worked out. Otherwise, we either make no intelligent use of such a history as this volume contains, or else we apply it wrong. The latter error is a very common one; and as many are liable to its commission, we trust these Concluding Remarks will be found suitable and instructive. It may appear to many readers that Calvin in his Practical Exhortations overlooks this difference between a miraculous dispensation and the ordinary condition of God’s people under the New Covenant. If he be somewhat open to this charge, it is readily accounted for by the times in which he lived. Calvin, like Daniel, was an exile from his fatherland. The house of Valois and their tyrant kings were to him the exact counterparts of the Babylonian monarchs. They were absolute sovereigns, and most ferocious persecutors of the people of the Lord. The Medici, the Guises, and the Lorraines of his day were to him the very antitypes of the nobles who fawned upon Nebuchadnezzar, and of the presidents who inveigled Darius. In his Dedicatory Epistle prefixed to this volume, the pious in France are represented as in a position exactly similar to that of the Jews during their captivity. The parallel being in each case so striking and so different to what we see and experience in these days, we need not be surprised at Calvin’s expectation of special interpositions, and at our own backwardness to appreciate the full suitability of his comments. Now there is clearly a sense in which such “special deliverance’s” are real, and a sense in which they are not. And as this is a point of some importance involving the idea of the Almighty which our Reformer has presented to us in the preceding pages, we shall comment at some length on a few passages of importance.
For instance, on Da 2:21, and following, we have a full reply to unbelieving objections to God’s providential government of the world. The profane are said to consider all things acted upon by a “blind impulse,” and “others affirm the human race to be a kind of sport to God, since men are tossed about like balls.” The chief cavils of the Reformation Period were those which proceeded from complete skepticism. Philosophers having thrown off the superstitions of Popery naturally doubted and disputed all things. The reasoners of Calvin’s days were something like those intelligent Hindoos who are now worshippers of neither Brahma nor Christ. They are in a transition state, and having unlearned so much, they scarcely know where to lay the foundation-stone of trustworthy belief. Throughout these Lectures, our author is constantly answering the arguments of those contemporaries who felt the hollowness of Rome, and had not yet tried the firmness of Geneva. Still to us his replies may not be convincing. This remark applies to the following passage. “If the sun always rose and set at the same period, or at least certain symmetrical changes took place yearly, without any casual change; if the days of winter were not short, and those of summer not long, we might then discover the same order of nature, and in this way God would be rejected from his dominion.” Here we must remember that in Calvin’s days most men were ignorant of those general laws and all-pervading principles by which the Author of nature governs and sustains the universe. In his day, there was scarcely any choice between the system which represented the Almighty removed in a kind of Epicurean repose far away from the works of his hand, and a system which supposed him to interfere arbitrarily and suddenly in favor of one party, and to rim discomfiture of another. Since this period, the researches of modern science have discovered for us the numerous, the simple, and seemingly self-acting principles, according to which the days of winter are short, and those of summer long. We can contemplate humbly “the same order of nature” from year to year with undeviating regularity, and yet never be tempted “to reject God from his dominion.” Yea, the marvel is this, the more we are trained to view the comprehensive theories of physical astronomy, and chemistry, and magnetism, the more are we led to adore and to magnify the Great and the All-powerful Original. Such studies do not lead us to “erect nature into a deity,” and to reject the Creator from his own dominion. They rather lead us to detect the fallacy in the expression “nature does this or that;” they prove to us that there is no such existence as “nature,” but that the word is but an expression for a complex and comprehensive idea of external objects, in the minds of men. The Almighty is seen by the true naturalist, in all his works, not as interposing visibly and surprisingly at one time, and leaving all things to themselves at another; but rather as impressing on every created particle of matter its own condition of obedience to certain laws which we call either mechanical or chemical, vital or organic. And it is the merciful arrangement of providence that a persevering study of God’s works prepares the mind for an intelligent perusal of his word. The habit of looking for such general principles as gravitation, attraction, organization, and development, of applying these theories to practice by the process of mathematical reasoning, or anatomical dexterity, and of arriving at results indisputably true, — this habit of mind is an excellent preparative for the equally discursive pursuit of revealed theology. Thus we readily detect the fallacy of ascribing the events of life to either fortune, or chance, or nature. Calvin had to contend with them as if they were realities; we may profit by Locke’s chapter on complex ideas, and treat them as expressions comprehending many separate existence’s, so related to each other that we form “a collective idea” of the whole.
By continuing this process of thought we are enabled to explain, although not to defend certain phrases of Calvin’s respecting the prerogatives of God. On Da 5:11, men are said to “mingle God and angels in complete confusion,” and on Da 5:21, God is said to be “excluded from the government of the world,” The moment our attention is turned to the point, we perceive that the ideas only of God and angels can be mingled, and in imagination only can men exclude the Almighty from his sway over the wills of mankind. Such phrases, we must remember, are the remnants of that realism which lingered in the minds of many of the Reformers, and still clings to the writings of some of their successors. Such expressions as we meet with on Da 6:10, “Draw down God from heaven,” and on Da 6:16, “to deprive the Almighty of his sway,” are better avoided. The same thought may be expressed in language more adapted to our enlarged views of the glory of our Creator. The Hebrew Prophets, it has been said, “dramatized the particulars of their mission,” and their symbolical portraits of the Almighty were afterwards received as exact and literal descriptions of his character. The Jewish people, even in the time of Daniel, were but in the infancy of moral and intellectual growth; and to them the well-known proverb most aptly applies, “Omne ignotum, pro magnifico.” Everything marvelous was attributed at once to the direct agency of a deity, disturbing rather than controlling the occurrences of life. Thus the world, and its surprising tumults, successes, struggles, and reverses, appeared but a scene of fortuitous and capricious chance. But the more we advance from infancy to manhood, the more we gain power to methodize these moral phenomena under some fixed and intelligible arrangement.
It is possible to present from the word of God another reply to the Epicurean suppositions of Calvin’s day, on principles in advance of those which he adopts. While he represents kings as actually contending with the Almighty, and really attempting to hurl him from his throne in heaven, we must remember that such language can only be suggestive. The foundation of all true reverence for Deity is the idea of an infinite and invisible Being, of whose wisdom and might the material universe is the product, and of whose moral nature the conscience of man is the image. When asked for rigid proof of this assertion, we are constrained to refer it to that faith which is peculiarly his gift. The double postulate of that essential existence which is spiritual, and of something in ourselves, which is his image, is the necessary rock upon which we must be placed before we can understand our origin and our destiny — our position in the universe — our moral relation to that system of providence into which we find ourselves born. And this series of providential occurrences is in many respects exactly the opposite to that described in these six chapters of Daniel. Miraculous and supernatural agency is here variously employed to counteract what are known to us as the ordinary laws of nature. The simple will of the Almighty annihilates the effect of fire in the furnace, and the ferocity of lions in their den. A sweeping act of his power converts one despot into the appearance of a beast of prey, and affrights another by the ominous appearance of a hand writing vengeance on a wall. We cannot expect such special revelations, judgments, or deliverance’s. Our study of the character of Deity is contained in the revealed record of such wonders, and in the present and past history of man and of the physical world. Moral and natural philosophy, under the guidance of revealed religion, is for us the exponent of the idea of Deity. The omnipresence of mind in outward nature is now all but visible to every student. Vast as the universe is, we know it to be pervaded by a moral purpose, and this presents that view of Deity which provides for adoration, and love, and reverence, without limit, and satisfies the longings for worship which are implanted deeply in the human soul. Thus we clothe the idea of an infinite spirit with the attributes of a human conscience; we are not satisfied with “a dynamic center of the universe,” we desire to feel our souls overflow with that mingled wonder and love which constitutes the highest and noblest worship of him who is Good. The history of nations and of families impresses upon us the idea of a personal providential Divinity, having fellow-feeling with the wants and distresses, the joys and the sorrows of mankind. Now, we also believe that there are general, harmonious, ever-acting laws of his providential government as well as of his physical. And the study of ordinary sciences disciplines the mind, and qualifies it to perceive, and arrange, and reason upon analogous laws in the moral and religious government of our immortal spirits. A firm persuasion that there is no disorder or disturbance in God’s moral sway — that he is not influenced by caprice, or swayed by favoritism, or turned aside by passionate entreaty, is necessary as the key-stone to the arch of Christian wisdom. Those very confusions of which our Reformer writes so vigorously in his Dedicatory Epistle, ascribing them to the “red and sanguinary cohorts and horned beasts,” were all in accordance with those uniformity’s of action which we now designate general laws. So far from considering it possible for God to “sit at ease in heaven and desert and betray his own cause,” our firm reliance on the permanence of those principles which underlie and encompass all others, is thereby tested and increased. The phenomena of political government, of religious persecution, and of social outbursts of fury and fanaticism, obey laws as orderly and as undeviating as those which regulate the motion of a planet or the passage of electricity along the wire. Through and by means of this “setting up and pulling down of kings,” the Almighty speaks a language addressed alike to our reason, our conscience, and our faith. But the great guarantee of our spiritual improvement is the fundamental belief that there is harmony, and classification, and inflexible regularity throughout the whole moral government of God. The very possibility of accident, or favoritism, or isolated marvel, must be banished from our thoughts. We know, by long course of proof and experience, that they do not exist in the physical world, and we cannot allow them a single foot-print within the domain of our moral and spiritual nature. Nothing here can be an anomaly, nothing an exception. In the uncultivated mind, there is an avidity for the marvelous, and a morbid eagerness for a cheap and easy solution of the solemn mysteries concerning God and the soul; but our educated religious life is like “a star hovering on the horizon’s verge between night and morning.” Thus, by faith we stand at the parting of the two roads, imagined by Plate’s great Parmenides, between the seeming and the true. As this star shines brighter over our path, mere external ceremonies and notional expressions become more and more objects of distrust; and the ideas of God and of the soul, of sin and of conscience, of heaven and of glory, become more and more vivid and real to us. And if any are afraid that the pursuit of either scientific, or moral, or religious truth, according to the principles here laid down, will injure true religion or saving faith, the single antidote to this fear is found in the exhortation, “Have faith in God.” (Mr 11:22.) Throughout these Lectures our Reformer ever clings to this scriptural principle, and even illustrates his subject ably, practically, and improvingly; while he all along labors under the difficult task of rendering a narrative interspersed with miracle available for the improvement of modern Christians who live under a totally different dispensation.
As another illustration of this difficulty, we may turn to Da 6:25-27, where our commentator asserts of the profane, that they so unite minor deities with the true that “he lies hid in a crowd, although he enjoys a slight pre-eminence.” Such simple and racy language is easily intelligible, but scarcely dignified enough. It justifies the assertion that in the infancy of great truths, language is an index of our ignorance rather than of our knowledge. Truly enough all men “wander confusedly” when they attempt to render palpable to others their contemplations of a Deity. This idea is the most vague and comprehensive of all — a universal solvent of all problems in the early stage of our religious existence. The Egyptians and the Greeks saw a god everywhere — in hill, in brook, in bird and beast. They manifested no lack of faith in the existence of beings far superior to themselves; and when the priest set up the ugly idol in its gorgeous temple, he never imagined he was creating a god for either himself or the people. He only attempted, after his fashion, to give fixity and embodiment to the ideas of Deity which were floating about indefinitely in the minds of the multitude. But the interval was wide indeed between these metaphorical symbols and the simple abstract idea of one self-acting Being ruling the conscience and swaying the future destinies of all men. When the tree of knowledge was separated from the tree of life, a dark and forlorn interval succeeded, during which mankind underwent long struggles of disquietude in “feeling after” the Almighty One. And we have been permitted to find him. To believe in his permanent presence and providence, to cling to him with the trust of a child to a parent, to follow after him, with no voice but his word acting on conscience and cheering while it guides, to trust him even amid the darkest prospects, — this it is to have faith in God. And this trust is not the mere result of reason, or understanding, or sentiment, or speculation. It is woven into our deepest instincts and our noblest aspirations. It unites them all. It is completed in love. What the profane call Nature, all who sympathize in Darius’s proclamation concerning Daniel’s God, feel to be a legislation of love. A parent whose government is unerring and complete is ever setting before us the unalterable Law as an exhibition of unchanging love. The very severity and uncompromising character of this idea of Deity proves the crowning beneficence of his kingship over the powers of this world. Inflexible justice and unerring certainty become the highest proofs of all-pervading benevolence. Herein lies the perfection of constancy and truth. The conscience is thus felt to be the vicegerent of this Divinity within. Forms of thought and expression must change, and since Calvin’s time, in the course of three centuries, they have passed through many changes; and man’s religious condition must always be modified by the extension of his knowledge, his experience, and his educated capacities. Many habitual modes of thought current in the days of Oecolampadius and Willet have been set aside; the disturbance of feeling which this occasioned has subsided, and our comprehension of God’s moral sway over the affairs of men has been enlarged and purified by the change. His hand-writing is now legible to us on ten thousand walls where of old it was a blank. The wonder which has been removed from special facts has been transferred to general laws; and if “the dream and its interpretation” are not now sent as proofs of his providence, there has sprung up instead equally striking indications of it in every dewdrop and in every flower.
The Practical Improvement which is so appositely made of every occurrence throughout this historical portion of the Lectures, constitutes a large share of their value. They always plead fervently for justice; always and everywhere they place justice first. They shew us that the absolute will of the most unbending tyranny must ultimately yield to the Divine omnipotence of justice, and that all defenses which human power may raise against human rights are utterly vain. He who would be god-like must first be just, and whatever else may be avoided, there is no escape from an avenging judge and a self-torturing conscience. These Lectures encourage us to harbor no distrust that permanent evil will arise to us from doing manfully our duty; they banish all fear that religion should suffer from the withdrawing of any supports which are proved to be unsound. They stir us up to do the work assigned to us while yet it is day with affectionate fidelity and all earnestness of zeal, and are specially instructive in an age like ours, more remarkable for the variety of its creeds than the intensity of its faith. Certainly the ancient spirit of righteousness, which flourished so vigorously under the crushing despotism of the House of Valois, is not strong within us. That spirit may be characterized as moral courage and religious earnestness combined with love to Christ and readiness to peril life for his name. And while it has almost died out in these days, the practical exhortations of these Lectures may, by God’s blessing, aid in its revival.
Connected with the practical exposition of our Prophet, we find a passage in Daniel 5 which demands our notice. In commenting on Da 5:5, and explaining that the hand which wrote upon the wall was not real, but only a figure, it is said, “Scripture often uses this form of speech, and especially when treating external symbols.” “Est ergo haec etiam sacramentalis loquutio, ut ita loquar.” It would surprise us to find the word “sacramental” introduced here, if we were unacquainted with the modes of thought and expression in which Calvin was brought up. But when we remember the very strong hold which the phraseology of the schoolmen had upon the minds of all who were early imbued with it, we enter at once into the fullness of its meaning. We have already stated in our Dissertations On Ezekiel, that the theology of Europe was, during the middle ages, entirely moulded according to the teaching of either the Realists or the Nominalists. It was so then, and it is so now. These two classes of mental cultivation still govern the theological studies of mankind, and will probably do so till the end of our Christian dispensation. The theology of Rome is the growth of the scholastic philosophy built up by the Realists; the teaching of the Reformers springs entirely from that of the Nominalists. All leanings to Rome have in them the essence of Realism, made manifest by some Romanizing tendencies; and all Ultra-Protestantism verges towards a series of negatives based upon Nominalism. We have already alluded to the first nominalist, to whom Luther and Melancthon own their deep obligations. “The real originator of the Protestant principle,” says the author of The Vindication of Protestant Principles, “the first man who truly emancipated himself from the trammels of Popish ecclesiolatry, the first, in fact, who referred everything to Scripture, and asserted the right of private judgment in its interpretation, was our own countryman, William of Ockham, in Surrey.” He died at Munich in the year 1347, just 170 years before Luther fastened his ninety-five propositions to the church doors at Wittenberg. Leopold Ranke also asserts that the celebrated nominalist, Gabriel Biel, was chiefly an epitomizer of this favorite writer of Melancthon’s. (See Vindic. Prot. Prin.) The Zurich Letters (Ep. 23, Park. Soc.) inform us of the language of Bishop Jewel when writing to Peter Martyr, 5th November 1559, — “We have deserted the ranks of Scotus and Aquinas for those of the Occamists and Nominalists,” 1842. This sentence condenses under a short formula the very essence of the controversies which now agitate Christendom at large. We cannot dwell here on the proofs of this important statement; we can only remind the reader of these Lectures that he will find some lingering traces of the realism which once pervaded the theology of Europe, and in which Calvin was brought up. We all know how exceedingly difficult it is utterly to efface the earliest impressions made upon an earnest and deeply speculative mind. Whenever, for instance, some of the expressions with respect to the Almighty seem alien to our present modes of thinking, we are now able to trace them to their source, and to set them aside as remnants of a system which our Reformer energetically and vigorously opposed. He is always leading us to cultivate the idea of a moral mind pervading all that we know and read of now, and can know hereafter. This germinant truth shines like light within our souls; the images and visions, the trials and triumphs of Daniel and his companions, are no longer insulated atoms in chaos — a mighty maze, and all without a plan — but portions of one organic whole, in which we are personally bound up for both time and eternity. And the more we surrender ourselves to this trust in our Parent Spirit, the more shall we find our ignorance of the plans of Providence removed, and the cloud of mystery hanging over the prevalence of evil brightened and dispersed. Thus the discovery of the laws by which the universe is governed by no means excludes the Supreme Cause from our contemplation; on the contrary, he becomes more manifest to us by his pervading and perpetual presence.
Throughout these Lectures we are ever taught that we can see God only by being pure in heart. The preparation for spiritual insight into holy mysteries is purity of conscience and singleness of eye. But even these able comments do not clear up everything. Our lot on earth must be to walk more by faith than by sight. This is the chief exercise of the soul, which is essential to its vitality and growth. We must have at times our mountains of vision as well as our valleys of the shadow of death. Never let us doubt the essential permanence of justice, and righteousness, and truthfulness. By this we shall be borne up through regions of cloud into realms of light. Thus will our spirituality be strengthened and refined: thus we shall be permitted to obtain larger perceptions of God’s character and maturer judgments of his purposes.
Willet’s “Hexapla in Dan.” Edit. 1610, p. 13.
See his “Daniel.” Edit. Tegg, 1836, p. 2.
“The Times of Daniel,” p. 29, chapter iii., where other dates of interest are clearly exhibited.
Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel. Edinburgh, 1848, p. 43.
Times of Daniel, p. 141.
Nineveh and Persep., p. 71, second edition.
See his Notes on Isaiah, chapter 23, p. 132; and Herod. Clio. Edit. Gronov., p. 40.
Travels, Book 2 chapter 1. See Prideaux’s authorities, and his arrangement of the Assyrian kings, which differs slightly from that here adopted.
Strabo, lib. 16, p. 737. Tacit. An., lib. 12, section. 13. Hist. Dyn., p. 604.
Nineveh and Persepolis, p. 37.
Bk. 3 section. 16, and Euseb. Praepar., lib. 9 c. 40 and 41, also Strabo, lib. 15 p. 687.
Volume 2, chapter 1., Babylon, p. 147, Eng. Trans.
Geog. of Arabia, volume 1 p. 54, and volume 2 p. 210.
Anab. 4, Sections 3, 5, 6, 7, 8. See also Strabo, lib. 10, and Freret Rcch. Hist. sur les anc. Peuple de l’Asie, volume 3, and other authorities quoted by the Duke of Manchester, pp. 104, 105.
See Dicaearch. ap. Stephan. de Urb. voce Caldai’o”, and other authorities quoted by Vaux, p. 41, etc., also Cicero de Divin.
Herod. 2, Section 109.
See Eichhorn’s Report. volume viii., and Winer’s Chaldee Gr., Introd., also Adelung’s Mithridat, th. 1 p. 314. ff.
Lib. 2 t. 1 p. 225, ed. Sieb., also lib. 16.
Lib. 2 chapter. 20.
De Divinat., lib. 1 cap. 1, also Pliny’s N. H., lib. 6 chapter. 26.
Lib. 2, Section 24, ap Heng., p. 275, Edit. Ed., 1848.
Apud Minuc. Fel., lib. 8 Arnob.
Quaest. 38, 39, p. 28. Edit. Cam., 1610.
An engraving of this statue is given in Vaux’s Nineveh and Persepolis, p. 322.
Wintle’s Transl., prelim. Dissertation.,
See Kitto’s Bibl. Cyc., art Cyr., and Vaux’s Nineveh, p. 316.
II. Consul., Lib. de Stil., 163, 164.
Animad. in Da 2:27-45. Helmstad., 1783, preserved by Kuinoel, volume 5.
Mede’s Works, Book 4, Ep. 6 p. 736.
See Dissertation XIII. Edit. Lond. 1832.
Ptol., Geog., lib. 6. cap. 3.
Hom., 18, in Ep. 2. ad Cor.
Adv. Haer., lib. 5.
See Selden de Diis Syr., c. 3 p. 49; Jablonski, Panth. AEg., p. 80; Gesenius in Encyc., Art. Babylon, th. 7 p. 24; Munter, p. 59; and Heeren, Ideen, l. 2, p. 170, ap. Heng.
Reply to Objections, p. 70.
Opp., volume 2, p. 1110, ap. Heng., p. 73; Voy. en Perse, 4, p. 276.
Lib. 1, section 183, and lib. 2, section 9.
P. 86. See also as there quoted, Niebuhr His. Gew., p. 189. Schlosser, Geshichte, etc., p. 172; and Volney, Recherches, etc., p. 150.
Euseb. Praep. Evan., l. 9. Section 41, p. 456, Edit Colon., and Chron. Armen., p. 59.
See Rosenmuller’s extract from his Commentary on this chapter, Dan., p. 171, where the original Greek of Abydenus is also given at length.
Schlosser, p. 279, ap. Heng.
Kleinert, p. 142, and V. Colln. ap. Heng., p. 96.
“The Times of Daniel,” pp. 256-258.
Annotat., chapter 5, p. 46.
p. 984, edit. fol., volume 2, 1744.
Berosus ap. Joseph. and ap. Grotius de Veritat, lib. 3, Note; Hengstenberg’s remarks on this passage in Berosus are valuable, p. 264.
Lib. 1., section. 188.
P. 261; see also Vitringa Comment., Z. Jes. 1 417; and Heeren, 1 2, p. 157, ap. Heng.
As quoted by Wintle, p. 79, volume 1, p. 191.
Deipnosophist, chapter. 13:2.
See Prideaux, 1, p. 227; Eichhorn, 1, p. 79; Jahn Archaeol., 2. 1., p. 217.
Chapter 1:1, and following.
Section 89. Jahn points out what he considers a mistake of Strabo’s, Arch. Bib., chapter 2, sect. 233.
Lib. 6 chapter. 27
Cyrop., lib. i. chaps. 4, 5, and lib. iii. chapter 3, sect. 20.
Preliminary Dissertation, p.24.
Con., part 1 Books 2, 3; Annals, pp. 80, 81; History of the Medes and Persians, volume v.
Heeren. Ideen. Augs., 3te, 2 50 p. 474, and Heng., p. 103, et seq.
Religionsg., 4, p. 48, ap. Heng., p. 116; also Vitringa de Syn., p. 179. Eisenmenger, 1, p. 584, eod. auct.
Lib. 1, De bon oper. in partic., c. 12.
Adv. Haeres., lib. 1, cap. 26.
Cyropaedia, lib. 8, chapter 6, etc.; Berth., 2 p. 848, ff.; Rosen. Alterthumsk, 1. 50, p. 369; Jahn. Arch., 2. 50, p. 244.
See Hengstenberg’s Authorities on p. 41, where Gesenius and Winer are quoted as well as Heeren Ideen, 1:1, p. 163; and Volney Rech. Nouv., t. 1, p. 144. Edit. Paris, 1814.