The book of Daniel was designed to encourage the Israelites to live holy lives before God in order to maintain a good witness to those who held them captive in Babylonia. It did this by three means: First, it showed the examples of Daniel and his friends risking their lives to remain faithful to God. Second, it showed how God was totally in control of their present circumstances to care for and preserve his faithful people. Third, it showed the extent of that control through visions of the future, building present faithfulness upon future hope for restoration and fulfillment of God’s promises.
since the coming out of Egypt: thence to their entering Canaan forty years, thence seven years to the dividing of the land, thence seven Jubilees to the first year of Samuel, in whom prophecy began, thence to this first year of the captivity seven seventies of years, 490 (ten Jubilees), thence to the return one seventy, thence to the death of Christ seven seventies more, thence to the destruction of Jerusalem forty years.
It was denounced against Hezekiah, for showing his treasures to the king of Babylon’s ambassadors (Isa. 39:6, 7), that the treasures and the children should be carried away, and, if they had been humbled and reformed by this, hitherto the king of Babylon’s power and success should have gone, but no further. If less judgments do the work, God will not send greater; but, if not, he will heat the furnace seven times hotter. Let us see what was now done. 1. The vessels of the sanctuary were carried away, part of them, v. 2. They fondly trusted to the temple to defend them, though they went on in their iniquity. And now, to show them the vanity of that confidence, the temple is first plundered. Many of the holy vessels which used to be employed in the service of God were taken away by the king of Babylon, those of them, it is likely, which were most valuable, and he brought them as trophies of victory to the house of his god, to whom, with a blind devotion, he gave praise of his success; and having appropriated these vessels, in token of gratitude, to his god, he put them in the treasury of his temple. See the righteousness of God; his people had brought the images of other gods into his temple, and now he suffers the vessels of the temple to be carried into the treasuries of those other gods. Note, When men profane the vessels of the sanctuary with their sins it is just with God to profane them by his judgments. It is probable that the treasures of the king’s house were rifled, as was foretold, but particular mention is made of the taking away of the vessels of the sanctuary because we shall find afterwards that the profanation of them was that which filled up the measure of the Chaldeans’ iniquity, ch. 5:3. But observe, It was only part of them that went now; some were left them yet upon trial, to see if they would take the right course to prevent the carrying away of the remainder. See Jer. 27:18. 2. The children and young men, especially such as were of noble or royal extraction, that were sightly and promising, and of good natural parts, were carried away
and God told Hezekiah that of the children that should issue from him some should be taken and made eunuchs, or chamberlains, in the palace of the king of Babylon. The prince of the eunuchs changed the names of Daniel and his fellows, partly to show his authority over them and their subjection to him, and partly in token of their being naturalized and made Chaldeans. Their Hebrew names, which they received at their circumcision, had something of God, or Jah, in them: Daniel—God is my Judge; Hananiah—The grace of the Lord; Mishael—He that is the strong God; Azariah—The Lord is a help. To make them forget the God of their fathers,
savour of the Chaldean idolatry. Belteshazzar signifies the keeper of the hidden treasures of Bel; Shadrach—The inspiration of the sun, which the Chaldeans worshipped; Meshach—Of the goddess Shach, under which name Venus was worshipped; Abed-nego, The servant of the shining fire, which they worshipped also. Thus, though they would not force them from the religion of their fathers to that of their conquerors, yet they did what they could by fair means insensibly to wean them from the former and instill the latter into them
That Daniel was still firm to his religion. They had changed his name, but they could not change his nature
Note, When God’s people are in Babylon they have need to take special care that they partake not in her sins. Providence seemed to lay this meat before them; being captives they must eat what they could get and must not disoblige their masters; yet, if the command be against it, they must abide by that. Though Providence says, Kill and eat, conscience says, Not so, Lord, for nothing common or unclean has come into my mouth
2. They were jealous over themselves, lest, though it should not be sinful in itself, it should be an occasion of sin to them, lest, by indulging their appetites with these dainties, they should grow sinful, voluptuous, and in love with the pleasures of Babylon. They had learned David’s prayer, Let me not eat of their dainties (Ps. 141:4), and Solomon’s precept, Be not desirous of dainties, for they are deceitful meat (Prov. 23:3), and accordingly they form their resolution.
took a great deal of pains with them, but, after all, their achievements are ascribed to God only. It was he that gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; for every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father of the lights. It is the Lord our God that gives men power to get this wealth; the mind is furnished only by him that formed it. The great learning which God gave these four children was, 1. A balance for their losses. They had, for the iniquity of their fathers, been deprived of the honours and pleasures that would have attended their noble extraction; but, to make them amends for that, God, in giving them learning, gave them better honours and pleasures than those they had been deprived of. 2. A recompence for their integrity. They kept to their religion, even in the minutest instances of it, and would not so much as defile themselves with the king’s meat or wine, but became, in effect, Nazarites; and now God rewarded
To Daniel he gave a double portion; he had understanding in visions and dreams; he knew how to interpret dreams, as Joseph, not by rules of art, such as are pretended to be given by the oneirocritics, but by a divine sagacity and wisdom which God gave him. Nay, he was endued with a prophetic spirit, by which he was enabled to converse with God, and to receive the notices of divine things in dreams and visions, Num. 12:6.
this gift given to Daniel, we find him, in this book, all along employed about dreams and visions, interpreting or entertaining them; for, as every one has received the gift, so shall he have an opportunity, and so should he have a heart, to minister the same, 1 Pt. 4:10.
upon trial, he found those poor young captive Jews ten times wiser and better than all the magicians that were in all his realm, v. 20. He was soon aware of something extraordinary in these young men, and, which gave him a surprising satisfaction, was soon aware that a little of their true divinity was preferable to a great deal of the divination he had been used to. What is the chaff to the wheat? what are the magicians’ rods to Aaron’s? There was no comparison between them. These four young students were better, were ten times better, than all the old practitioners, put them all together, that were in all his realm, and we may be sure that they were not a few. This contempt did God pour upon the pride of the Chaldeans, and this honour did he put upon the low estate of his own people