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The Book of the Prophet
7~\ A NIE L was of the seed royal of the kings of Judah, and every way eminent as a learned man, a statesman, a saint, and a prophet. lite Jews indeed will not allow him to be a prophet; and, in their bible, his book is not put among the prop/iets, because he did not live a mortified life, and prophesied in a strange land; but Christ calls him a ''prophet,' and the angel Gabriel, 'a man greatly beloved' The true reason of their denying him to be a prophet was, because he so elearlyforetold the sufferings of the Messiah, and the time when they should happen. Part of this book, which particularly relates to the affairs of the Babylonians, (from chap. ii. 4, to the end of chap. vii.) is written in their own language, the Chaldaic, and all the rest in Hebrew. He lived in great favour with the Babylonian monarchs; and his extraordinary merit procured him the like regard from Darius and Cyrus, the two first kings of Persia: he was indeed the only prophet who enjoyed any great share of worldly prosperity. He lived throughout the captivity, but does not seem to have ever returned to his own country. The last of his visions which we have an account of, was in the third year of Cyrus, (about five hundred and thirty four years before Christ) when he was about ninety four years of age ; and it is not likely that he lived much longer; he was then at Susa on the river Tygris, where he probably remained till he died.
Jin account of Jehoiakim's captivity ; of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, refusing the king's portion, prospering with pulse and water.
1 T N the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of JuX dah, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusa
3 lem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god Bet ,- and he brought the vessels into the treasure
, house of his god, to acknowledge him as the author of hit suecess; but which the sacred historian ascribes to Jehovah.*
3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eu< nuchs, that he should bring [certain] of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes ; and so the threatening to Hezekiah wasfulfilled, viz. that his seed should be taken away, and be eunuchs or officers in the palace of the king of Bab
4 ylon; (see Isaiah xxxix. 7.) Children, that is, young men, in whom [was] no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, who had the best accomplishments of body and mind, good geniuses, and well educated, and such as [had] ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans ; namely, the language of the country, and astronomy, architecture, polities, and war; but there was no command to teach them religion.
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank ; he ordered them a table among the king's household; so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the
6 king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Dan
I iel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel [the name] of fielteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach ; and to Azariah, of Abednego ; their own names had some relation to the God of Isreal, but the names which he gave them hax'e a reference to the Chaldean idolatry.
S But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank :t therefore he requested of the prince
9 of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the
10 prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed you your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which [are] of your sort, or age t then shall ye make [me] endanger my head to the king. Such is the misery of an ar
II bitrary government. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mish
12 ael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, that is, a vegetable 13 ditt, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be
* From this rime t?t- seventy years' captivity commenced; after this Jehoiakim humbled himself, became tributary, and was restoredto his throne.
t It wis a eastern to offer some part of the beasts which they killed for food in sacrifice to their gods, and to prmr out some of their wine as a libation to them. Or, thry used ■och fond, or it wasdres«ed in such a manner, as was forhidden by the law of Moses ; on shese accounts Daniel could not partake of these provisions without being defiled.
looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: arid as thou seest,
14 deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this mat
15 ter, and proved them ten days. And at the end or ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all
16 the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink ; and gave them pulse.
17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had onderstand
! 8 ing in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnez
19 zar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king, that is, they con
20 tinually attended at Court. And in all matters of wisdom [and] understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that [were] in all his realm; that is, than the students in natural
21 philosophy* And Daniel Continued [even] unto the first year of king Cyrus: he continued in honour and favour with the kings that succeeded Nebuchadnezzar to the end of the seventy years, so that he lived to be above ninety years old.
I, TT is of great service to a community to give young per' I sons a good education: and it showed the wisdom and policy of this state to train up promising youths for public offices and stations. This was the practice of the most celebrated ancient states ; and it is still of equal importance to the public. Some who would otherwise be useless, yea, injurious to society, may hereby be made great blessings to it. It will be wise in parents to give their children as large and liberal an education as their circumstances will admit of: and it is an excellent charity, and a real public benefit, to contribute to the support of charity schools and other seminaries, by which children and youth may be formed to knowledge, piety, and usefulness.
2. It becomes young people to imitate the amiable examples of temperance, prudence, and steady regard to religion, which we here read of. These young persons showed great piety, self denial, and resolution : they did not think, that because they •were of the blood royal, they might therefore indulge their appc
• Such were the wise men that came to Christ. The astrologers viewed the heaven) and made observations on the start; in these sciences no unlawful arti ware used, tiM pauid and bit sompauiouj would not hart itudiad tuaia.
tltes without control; but chose pulse and water, rather than be led into sin. Let young people learn from them to be sober and temperate in all things. And this instance proves that temperance and abstemiousness are favourable both to health and virtue, by keeping the faculties clear and strong, and in fitting men for great service, and great sufferings too, when called to them, as these young gentlemen were. Especially let them learn to be afraid of sin ; resolutely to deny themselves any gratification, by Which the soul may be polluted; and rather choose to hazard the favour of men, than defile their consciences by sinning against God.
3. We are here taught that learning and honour come from God. Though no doubt their tutors took great pains with these tioble youths, and they were hard students, yet it is said, God gave them knowledge; and though they behaved prudently, inoffensively, and modestly, yet that God brought them into favour and love. Intellectual abilities, useful knowledge, and religous attainments, all come from the Father of Lights; which shows how fit it is that parents should pray for their children, that God would teach them, as well at instruct them themselves ; and that those who lack wisdom, should ask it of God. Esteem and reputation come from him. All hearts are in his hands; and it depends on the turn he gives to men's minds, whether we shall be esteemed or despised in the World ; without his favour, all the interest we can make for ourselves will be in vain. Let us then be steadily religious and prudent, so shall it,e find favour and good understanding in the tight of God and man.
CHAP. II. 1—30.
Nebuchadnezzar forgetting his dream, Danielfndeth it; and relatet both the dream, and the interpretation of it.
1 \ N D in the second year'of the reign of NebuchadnezJLx. zar,* Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him; the ttrangenest of the dreamt left a ttrong impression ufion him,
2 though he had forgotten the particnlars. Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans,t for to show the king his
* He it spoken of in the former chapter as reigning when Daniel was taken captive, who was instructed three years before he came in to the king; this must therefore refer to the second vear of his reigning alone: having reigned some years with his father, a* the heathen historians tell us; this being the manner of reckoning among the Chaldeans.
't The word sorcereri is sometimes used in an ill sense for those who practised wick, •darts. Tht Chatdtant was a general name for this kind of learned men; as astronomy, and astrology were much studied .imu.-ig them ; aad is ased at such both by the w r«cJt jtti Mtin wrltert.
3 dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit
4 was troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack,* O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.
5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, Th<; thing is gone from me; I have forgotten the particulars, but the inn Jiression of the dream remains: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill, so at
6 to leave no remains of them or of your memory. But if ye show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore
7 show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the
8 dream, and we will show the interpretation of it. The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me ; he perceived that they wished to put him off"for the present, and to trifle with him till his curiosity was al'.ayed, and the traces of his dream, lost; so that they might tell him any Mng, and he would not he,
9 certain whether it was his dream or not. But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, [there is but] one decree for you ; ns change to he made in my purpose: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed; till something happen to prevent the execution of my purpose : therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof.
10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king's matter: therefore [there is] no king, lord, nor ruler, [that] asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
11 And [it is] a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh; none but beings superior to men; or, as some render it, lexcept that God,' supposing them
12 to refer to the true God. For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise [men]
13 of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise [men] should be slain ; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.f
14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay
• The Cha'dem and Syriack are different names for the same lanjrasge : that language la used in this book as far as relates ro the affairs of Babylon, that is, to the end oichap. vii*
1" It is strange that he did not firs? apply to them, as he had before found them ten limes wiser th m his magicians and astrolegcrs ; but perhaps he thought them too vonmj to be consalted on this great occasion, or was prejudiced against their nation and religion j •r Providence miotic so ordi r it, to make Dunirl \ discovery of the dream more remarkable.