« PreviousContinue »
No. 330.-DANIEL i. 8.
But Daniel purposed in his heart, that he would not defile. himself with the portion of the king's meat.
It was the custom of most nations, before their meals, to make an oblation of some part of what they ate and drank to their gods, as a thankful acknowledgment that every thing which they enjoyed was their gift. These oblations were called libamina among the Romans, so that every entertainment had something in it of the nature of a sacrifice. This practice generally prevailing, made Daniel and his friends look upon the provisions coming from the king's table as no better than meats offered to idols, and, by being so offered, to be accounted unclean or polluted. (Ezek. iv. 13. Hos. ix. 3. compared with Acts xv. 20.)
No. 331.-ii. 4. O king, live for ever.] This ancient wish and address to the throne seems most manifestly to have taken its rise from an ancient and original apprehension, that those who could obtain favour and mercy through the promised Messiah would really live for ever, and have not only as great, but greater powers to be useful hereafter, than they have had on earth.
KING'S Morsels of Criticism, vol. i. p. 469.
No. 332.-v. 13. Then was Daniel brought before the king.] Chardin gives an account of a very singular kind of honour paid the Persian princes after their deathsthat it was usual to drive their physicians and astrologers from court. This he supposes to be of great antiquity, and to have been the cause of Daniel's absence, when
Belshazzar saw the hand writing his doom on the wall, which writing no body that was then with him could explain. Daniel was not, it is certain, only occasionally absent from this solemnity, which was conducted in a manner affronting to the God of Israel; for it appears from ver. 13. that he was not at all personally known to Belshazzar. This has been supposed to have been owing to his having been a vicious and a weak prince. Chardin supposes, on the other hand, that the ceremonial of the Persian court required it. The first reason hardly accounts for his absence,' since weak and vicious as he might be, Nicotris, his mother, who appears to have been no stranger to the great abilities of Daniel, who is said to have been a lady of great wisdom, and who is believed to have had the chief management of affairs, might have employed Daniel in matters of state, which, in all probability, considering his eminence, would have made him known to the king; he did not however know him; she did not therefore employ Daniel. From the queen mother's recommending Belshazzar to consult Daniel, I collect, says Chardin, that Daniel had been mazouled (displaced) at the death of the king; for in the East, when the king dies, the physicians and astrologers are displaced; the first, for not having driven away death; and the other, for not having predicted it.
HARMER, vol. ii. p. 165.
No. 333.-v. 27. Thou art weighed in the balances.] From the following extract it will appear that there is an allusion in these words, which will justify a literal interpretation of them. "The first of September, (which was the late mogul's birth-day) he, retaining an ancient yearly custom, was in the presence of his chief grandees weighed in a balance: the ceremony was performed within his house, or tent, in a fair spacious room, wliereinto none were admitted but by special leave. The
scales in which he was thus weighed were plated with gold; and so was the beam, on which they hung by great chains, made likewise of that most precious metal. The king sitting in one of them, was weighed first against silver coin, which immediately afterwards was distributed among the poor; then was he weighed against gold; after that against jewels, (as they say) but, I observed (being there present with my lord ambassador) that he was weighed against three several things, laid in silken bags on the contrary scale. When I saw him in the balance, I thought on Belshazzar, who was found too light. (Dan. v. 27.) By his weight, (of which his physicians yearly keep an exact account) they presume to guess of the present estate of his body, of which they speak flatteringly, however they think it to be." Sir THOMAS ROE'S Voyage to India.
No. 334. v. 29. They clothed Daniel with scarlet.] This was designed to honour Daniel, and certainly was, according to the custom of the East, a ceremony highly expressive of dignity. To come out from the presence of a superior in a garment different from that in which the person went in, was significant of approbation and promotion. Whether it was the precise intention of this clothing to declare Daniel's investiture with the dignity of the third ruler of the kingdom, or whether it was an honorary distinction, unconnected with his advancement, cannot be absolutely decided, because caffetans, or robes, are at this day put on people with both views, Chardin has a passage, from which it appears how easy it is immediately to put a garment on a person they intend to honour, answerable to that degree of honour they design to do him, let it be what it will. After having observed, that in Persia and the Indies they not only give a vestment, but a complete suit of clothes, when they would do a person more honour than com
mon, contrary to what is practised in Turkey and China, he goes on to observe, that these presents of vestments are only from superiors to inferiors, not from equals to equals, nor from the mean to the great. Kings constantly give them to ambassadors, residents, and envoys, and send them to princes who are their tributaries, and pay them homage. They pay great attention to the quality or merit of those to whom these vestments or habits are given; they are always answerable to their rank. Those that are given to their great men have, in like manner, as much difference as there is between the degrees of honour they possess in the state. The kings of Persia have great wardrobes, where there are always many hundreds of habits ready, designed for presents, and sorted. The intendant of the wardrobes (which they call kalaat kone, that is, the house of kalaats, that being the name given those vestments that are made presents of) sends one of them to the person the great master orders, and of that kind the order directs. More than forty tailors are always employed in this house. This difference of vestments, as to the stuff they are made of, is not observed in Turkey; there they are pretty much alike in point of richness, but they give more or fewer, according to the dignity of the persons to whom they are presented, or the degree in which they would caress them. There are ambassadors who have received twentyfive or thirty of them for themselves and attendants; and several are given to one person, respect being had to the place he holds. In the year 1675, the king of Persia having returned answer to the agents of the grandson of Teimuras-can, the last king of Iberia, (who solicited his return to court, and was then in Muscovy) that he should be welcome, and this young prince having come to the frontiers, his majesty sent one of his officers to bring him to him, and to defray his expences, with
a very rich present, in which, among other things, were five complete suits of clothes.
HARMER, vol. ii. p. 85.
No. 335.-viii. 5. An he-goat.] A goat is very properly made the type of the Grecian or Macedonian empire, because the Macedonians at first, about 200 years before Daniel, were denominated, Egeada, or the goat's people; and upon this occasion, as heathen authors report: Caranus, the first king, going with a great multitude of Greeks to seek new habitations in Macedonia, was commanded by the oracle to take the goats for his guides to empire; and afterwards, seeing an herd of goats flying from a violent storm, he followed them to Edessa, and there fixed the seat of his empire, made the goats his ensigns or standards, and called the city Egea, or the Goat's Town, and the people Egeade, or the Goat's People. The city Ægex was likewise the usual burying place of the Macedonian kings. It is also very remarkable, that Alexander's son by Roxana was named Alexander Ægus, or the son of the goat; and some of Alexander's successors are represented in their coins with goat's horns.
Bp. NEWTON on the Prophecies, vol. ii, p. 29,