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which we shall take notice in a subsequent part of this history.
Now we have read of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the punishments inflicted on the remaining inhabitants of Judea, we must next look back to those who were carried captive into Babylon.
THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS THAT WERE CARRIED.
CAPTIVE INTO BABYLON; PARTICULARLY OF THE PROPHET DANIEL, AND HIS FRIENDS, SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABED-NEGO.
From Daniel, Chap. i. WHEN Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon first besieged Jerusalem, the Loud gave Jehoiachim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shi. nar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasure-house of his god.
And the king spake unto Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well-favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, 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.
And the king appointed them a daily provision, of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now
among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto G4
Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego.
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 : therefore he re. quested of the prince of the eunuchs, that he might not defile himself
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and ten. der love with the prince of the eunuchs.
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king who hath appointed your meat and your drink; for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort ? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days, and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink, Then let our countenances be looked upon
before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
And at the end of ten days, their countenances appeared fairer, and fatter in flesh than all 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.
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding 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 Nebuchadnezzar.
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
And in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm, And Daniel continued even unto the first year
of king Cyrus.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The prophet * Daniel, who was descended from the royal family of David, was carried away in the first captivity (which happened in the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah), together with his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. It t was at that time the custom among conquerors to change the names of their captives. Those which were given to these four youths had a relation to the idols of the Babylonians, as their former ones had to the true God. DANIEL, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies God is my judge; BELTESH AZZAR, in the Chaldee, is the treasure of Baal: HANANIAH in Hebrew, well-pleasing to God; SHADRACH, in Chaldee, the inspiration of the sun : MISHAEL, in Hebrew, proceeding from God; Meshach, in Chaldee, belonging to the goddess Shishac; AZARIAH, in Hebrew, God is my help; ABEDNEGO, in Chaldee, the servant of Nego, that is, the sun, or the morning star, both deities among the Babylonians, and so called because of their brightness. * Stackhouse on the Bible. + Calmet's Dictionary, G 5
The master of the eunuchs signifies the person who had the controul of the king's household.
Daniel and his friends, though very young men, resolved stedfastly to adhere to the Divine LAW, no account to eat what that law prohibited to the Jews. They had also, it is likely, another motive for refusing, which was the custoin in most heathen nations, of making an oblation to their gods, by pouring the liquor on the ground, and burning part of the meat, before they ate or drank, as an acknowledgment that all they had came from their bounty: so that every entertainment was a kind of sacrifice to idols; therefore these pious youths looked upon what came from the king's table as unclean.
The learning of the Chaldeans chiefly consisted in what they called astrology (or a knowledge of the motions of the sun, moon and stars), the art of building, and the art of war. These branches of knowledge the Jews might lawfully learn, and we find the young captives made great proficiency in them; and Gov ordained that their knowledge, which he enabled them to acquire to such a degree, should become a mean of procuring them that prosperity which he had promised to those who should patiently endure their captivity, and preserve their principles from corruption in an idolatrous country. Some of the Chaldeans professed to have skill in magical arts; but this was all deception : had it been real, it is very unlikely they would be willing to communicate to the worshippers of the LORD JEHOVAH that knowledge which they pretended to derive from idols ; for they made a mystery of it; even to the generality of their own countrymen. So that we may be certain magic was not among the sciences which Daniel and his companions were taught; neither would those who refused the meat from the king's table have submitted to be instructed by what means they might
obtain inspiration from false deities, if it could have been obtained.
This Section affords an excellent lesson to young persons, admonishing them to strive against all temptations, which are calculated to draw them from their duty to God.
From Daniel, Chap. ii. And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchad. nezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chal. deans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dreain, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, 0 king, live for ever : tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is
gone from me: 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.
But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards, and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.
And the king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the. thing is gone from me.