Daniel - 5:29

29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with purple, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

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Explanation and meaning of Daniel 5:29.

Differing Translations

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Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Then by the king's command Daniel was clothed with purple, and a chain of gold was put about his neck: and it was proclaimed of him that he had power as the third man in the kingdom.
Then Belshazzar commanded, and they clothed Daniel with purple, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Then hath Belshazzar said, and they have clothed Daniel with purple, and a bracelet of gold is on his neck, and they have proclaimed concerning him that he is the third ruler in the kingdom.
Then, by the order of Belshazzar, they put a purple robe on Daniel, and a gold chain round his neck, and a public statement was made that he was to be a ruler of high authority in the kingdom.
Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with purple, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made proclamation concerning him, that he should rule as one of three in the kingdom.
Tunc jussit Beltsazar, et vestierunt Danielem purpura, et torques aureus super collum ejus: [277] et clamabant coram ipso quod dominaretur tertius in regno.

*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

This order of the king may excite surprise, since he had been so sharply reproved by the Prophet. He next seemed to have lost all spirit, for he had grown pale a hundred times, and would have devoted the holy Prophet of God to a thousand deaths! How happens it, then, that he ordered him to be adorned with royal apparel, and next to be proclaimed by his own herald the third person in the kingdom? Some think this was done because the laws of kings were sacred among the Babylonians; nay, their very words were held as binding, and whatever they proclaimed, they desired it to be esteemed firm and inviolable. They suppose King Belshazzar to have acted thus through ambition, that he might keep his promises. My opinion is, that he was at first utterly astonished, and through listening to the Prophet he became like a stock or a stone! I think he did so to consult his own ease and safety; otherwise he would have been contemptible to his nobles. To shew himself unmoved, he commands Daniel to be clothed in these robes, as if his threat had been perfectly harmless. He did not despise what the Prophet had said, but he wished to persuade his nobles and all his guests of his perfect indifference to God's threats, as if he did not utter them for the purpose of executing them, but only of terrifying them all. Thus kings, when greatly terrified, are always exceedingly careful not to shew any sign of their timidity, since they think their authority would become materially weakened. To continue, therefore, his reverence among his subjects, he is desirous of appearing exceedingly careless and undisturbed; and I do not hesitate to pronounce this to have been the tyrant's intention in ordering Daniel to be clad in purple and in royal magnificence.

Then commanded Belshazzar - In compliance with his promise, Daniel 5:16. Though the interpretation had been so fearful in its import, and though Daniel had been so plain and faithful with him, yet he did not hesitate to fulfill his promise. It is a remarkable instance of the result of fidelity, that a proud monarch should have received such a reproof, and such a prediction in this manner, and it is an encouragement to us to do our duty, and to state the truth plainly to wicked men. Their own consciences testify to them that it is the truth, and they will see the truth so clearly that they cannot deny it.
And they clothed Daniel with scarlet - All this, it would seem, was transacted in a single night, and it has been made an objection, as above remarked, to the authenticity of the book, that such events are said to have occurred in so short a space of time, and that Daniel should have been so soon clothed with the robes of office. On this objection, see Introduction to the chapter, Section I. II. In respect to the latter part of the objection, it may be here further remarked, that it was not necessary to "fit" him with a suit of clothes made expressly for the occasion, for the loose, flowing robes of the Orientals were as well adapted to one person as another, and in the palaces of kings such garments were always on hand. See Harmer's "Observations on the East," vol. ii. 392, following. Compare Rosenmuller, "Morgenland, in loc."
That he should be the third ruler - See the notes at Daniel 5:7.

Clothed Daniel with scarlet - ארגונא argevana, more probably with purple. The gold chain about the neck was an emblem of magisterial authority. It is often thus mentioned in Scripture.

Then commanded Belshazzar,.... As soon as he had heard the writing read and interpreted; instead of being full of wrath, as might have been expected, he orders the reward promised to be given, to show he had a regard to his word and honour, as a king; and to secure his credit with his nobles and people; and perhaps he might not understand, by Daniel's interpretation, that the destruction of him and his kingdom was so near at hand as it was; or he might put this evil day far from him, and hope it might be prevented:
and they clothed Daniel with scarlet; the king's servants by his orders: or,
that they should clothe Daniel with scarlet (a); these were his orders; but whether executed is not certain; probably not, since the king was slain the same night; and so the rest of the clauses may be read,
and should put a chain of gold about his neck, and should make proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom; all which was the reward promised to him that should read and interpret the writing, Daniel 5:7, but that this was done, the king's death being so sudden, does not appear; and therefore it is needless to inquire the reasons of Daniel's acceptance after his refusal.
(a) "ut induerent", Gejerus.

Belshazzar . . . clothed Daniel with scarlet--To come from the presence of a prince in a dress presented to the wearer as a distinction is still held a great honor in the East. Daniel was thus restored to a similar rank to what he had held under Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:48). Godly fidelity which might be expected to bring down vengeance, as in this case, is often rewarded even in this life. The king, having promised, was ashamed before his courtiers to break his word. He perhaps also affected to despise the prophecy of his doom, as an idle threat. As to Daniel's reasons for now accepting what at first he had declined, compare Note, see on Daniel 5:17. The insignia of honor would be witnesses for God's glory to the world of his having by God's aid interpreted the mystic characters. The cause of his elevation too would secure the favor of the new dynasty (Daniel 6:2) for both himself and his captive countrymen. As the capture of the city by Cyrus was not till near daylight, there was no want of time in that eventful night for accomplishing all that is here recorded. The capture of the city so immediately after the prophecy of it (following Belshazzar's sacrilege), marked most emphatically to the whole world the connection between Babylon's sin and its punishment.

Daniel rewarded, and the beginning of the fulfilment of the writing.
Belshazzar fulfilled the promise he had made to Daniel by rewarding him for reading and interpreting the writing. והלבּשׁוּ is not to be translated: (commanded) that they should clothe, - this meaning must be conveyed by the imperfect (cf. Daniel 2:49), - but: and they clothed him. The command was then carried out: Daniel was not only adorned with purple and with a golden chain, but was also proclaimed as the third ruler of the kingdom. The objection that this last-mentioned dignity was not possible, since, according to Daniel 5:30, Belshazzar was slain that very night, is based on the supposition that the proclamation was publicly made in the streets of the city. But the words do not necessitate such a supposition. The proclamation might be made only before the assembled magnates of the kingdom in the palace, and then Belshazzar may have been slain on that very night. Perhaps, as Kliefoth thinks, the conspirators against Belshazzar availed themselves of the confusion connected with this proclamation, and all that accompanied it, for the execution of their purpose. We may not, however, add that therewith the dignity to which Daniel was advanced was again lost by him. It depended much rather on this: whether Belshazzar's successor recognised the promotion granted to Daniel in the last hours of his reign. But the successor would be inclined toward its recognition by the reflection, that by Daniel's interpretation of the mysterious writing from God the putting of Belshazzar to death appeared to have a higher sanction, presenting itself as if it were something determined in the councils of the gods, whereby the successor might claim before the people that his usurpation of the throne was rendered legitimate. Such a reflection might move him to confirm Daniel's elevation to the office to which Belshazzar had raised him. This supposition appears to be supported by Daniel 6:2 (1).
Bleek and other critics have based another objection against the historical veracity of this narrative on the improbability that Belshazzar, although the interpretation predicted evil against him, and he could not at all know whether it was a correct interpretation, should have rewarded Daniel instead of putting him to death (Hitzig). But the force of this objection lies in the supposition that Belshazzar was as unbelieving with regard to a revelation from God, and with regard to the providence of the living God among the affairs of men, as are the critics of our day; the objection is altogether feeble when one appreciates the force of the belief, even among the heathen, in the gods and in revelations from God, and takes into consideration that Belshazzar perhaps scarcely believed the threatened judgment from God to be so near as it actually was, since the interpretation by Daniel decided nothing as regards the time, and perhaps also that he hoped to be able, by conferring honour upon Daniel, to appease the wrath of God.
(Note: "Non mirum, si Baltasar audiens tristia, solverit praemium quod pollicitus est. Aut enim longo post tempore credidit ventura quae dixerat, aut dum Dei prophetam honorat, sperat se veniam consecuturum." - Jerome.)
The circumstance, also, that Daniel received the honour promised to him notwithstanding his declining it (Daniel 5:17), can afford no ground of objection against the truth of the narrative, since that refusal was only an expression of the entire absence of all self-interest, which was now so fully established by the matter of the interpretation that there was no longer any ground for his declining the honours which were conferred upon him unsought, while they comprehended in themselves in reality a recognition of the God whom he served.

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