*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
And over these, three presidents - סרכין sârekı̂yn. This word is found only in the plural. The etymology is uncertain, but its meaning is not doubtful. The word president expresses it with sufficient accuracy, denoting a high officer that presided over others. It is not improbable that these presided over distinct departments, corresponding somewhat to what are now called "secretaries" - as Secretaries of State, of the Treasury, of Foreign Affairs, etc., though this is not particularly specified.
Of whom Daniel was first - First in rank. This office he probably held from the rank which he was known to have occupied under the kings of Babylon, and on account of his reputation for ability and integrity.
That the princes might give accounts unto them - Be immediately responsible to them; the accounts of their own administration, and of the state of the empire.
And the king should have no damage - Either in the loss of revenue, or in any maladministration of the affairs. Compare Ezra 4:13. "They pay not toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings." The king was regarded as the source of all power, and as in fact the supreme proprietor of the realm, and any malfeasance or malversation in office was regarded as an injury to him.
Three presidents - Each having forty of these presidents accountable to him for their administration.
Daniel was first - As being established over that part where was the seat of government. He was confirmed in his offices by Darius.
And over these three presidents,.... To whom the hundred and twenty princes were accountable for their conduct, and to whom the people might apply for redress of grievances, if oppressed; perhaps the whole empire was divided into three greater parts, and each part had forty provinces in it, and over it a president or deputy of the king; to whom the princes of each province gave in the account of what they received for the king, and what use they made of it:
(of whom Daniel was the first:) or "one" (u), who was now an old man, having been about seventy years in Babylon, and had had a large experience of the affairs of civil government, being advanced in the times of Nebuchadnezzar to high posts; and very probably Darius had heard of the wisdom of Daniel before he came to the kingdom, as well as the king of Tyre, Ezekiel 28:3 and might be informed of his prediction of Belshazzar's death, and the change of the empire: and of Belshazzar's promise to make him the third ruler in the kingdom; and he might also himself observe in him an uncommon sagacity and fitness for business of this sort. Josephus (w) says, that Darius took Daniel with him into Media, and made him one of the three presidents; and indeed no mention is made in this history of the nobles of Babylon, but only of the Medes and Persians:
that the princes might give account unto them, and the king should have no damage: or loss in his revenues, through the fraud and bad management of the princes of the provinces; since they might be discovered and checked by the presidents, who were to audit their accounts: or, "have no trouble" (x); in looking over and passing the accounts of the princes.
(u) Sept.; "unus", V. L. Syr. Ar. Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis. (w) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 4. (x) , Sept.; "ne rex molestia afficeretur", Pagninus; "ut rex illo levaretur gravamine", Munster.
*More commentary available at chapter level.