*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
The word tslch, tzelech, properly signifies to "pass over," and the signification is here metaphorical, in the sense of being prosperous. There is no doubt, however, of there being a silent contrast between the kingdom of the Persians and the Chaldean monarchy, that is, to speak more concisely and clearly, between the twofold condition of Daniel. For, as we have said, he was for some time in obscurity under Nebuchadnezzar; when this monarchy was about to perish he became conspicuous; and throughout the whole period of the reign of the Chaldeans he was obscure and contemptible. All indeed had heard of him as a remarkable and illustrious Prophet, but he was rejected from the palace. At one time he was seated at the king's gate, in great honor and respect, and then again he was cast out. During the continuance of the Chaldee monarchy, Daniel was not held in any esteem; but under that of the Medes and Persians he prospered, and was uniformly treated with marked respect, for Cyrus and Darius were not so negligent as instantly to forget the wonderful works of God performed by his hand. Hence the word "passing through," pleases me, since, as I have said, it is a mark of the continual possession of honor; for not only King Darius, but also Cyrus exalted him and raised him into the number of his nobles, when he heard of his favor. It is clear that he left Babylon and went elsewhere. Very probably he was not long among the Medes, forDarius or Cyaxares died without any heirs, and then his whole power passed to Cyrus alone, who was his nephew, through his sister, and his son-in-law being his daughter's husband. No doubt, Daniel here commends God's favor and kindness towards himself, because this was not the usual solace of exile, to obtain the highest favor among foreign and barbarous nations, or attain the largest share of their honor and reverence. God, therefore, alleviated his sorrow by this consolation in his exile. Hence Daniel here not only regards himself in his private capacity, but also the object of his dignity. For God wished his name to be spread abroad and celebrated over all those regions through which Daniel was known, since no one could behold without remembering the power and glory of Israel's God. Daniel, therefore, wished to mark this. On the other hand also, no doubt, it was a matter of grief to him to be deprived of his country, not like the rest of mankind, but because the land of Canaan was the peculiar inheritance of God's people. When Daniel was snatched away and led off to a distance, as far as Media and Persia, without the slightest hope of return, there is no doubt that he suffered continual distress. Nor was the splendor of his station among the profane of such importance as to induce him to prefer it to that pledge of God's favor and paternal adoption in the land of Canaan. He had doubtless inscribed on his heart that passage of David's, "I had rather be in the court of the Lord, than in the midst of the greatest riches of the ungodly: then, I had rather be a despised one in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of the unrighteous." (Psalm 84:10.) Thus Daniel had been taught. Ezekiel, too, properly includes him among the three most holy men who have lived since the beginning of the world. (Ezekiel 14:14.)  This was of the greatest moment; for when he was a youth, or at least but middle aged, he was joined with Job and Noah, and was the third in rare and almost incredible sanctity! Since this was his character, he was no doubt affected with the greatest sorrow when he perceived himself subject to perpetual exile, without the slightest hope of return, and of being able to worship God in his temple and to offer sacrifice with the rest. But lest he should be ungrateful to God, he desires to express his sense of the uncommon benevolence with which, though an exile and a stranger, and subject to reproach among other captives, he was treated and even honored among the Medes and Persians. This, therefore, is the simple meaning of the passage. It is quite clear, as I have lately said, that Cyrus, after the death of Darius, succeeded to the whole monarchy; and we shall afterwards see in its proper place how Daniel dwelt with Cyrus, who reigned almostthirty years longer. Thus, a long time intervened between his death and that of Darius. This, therefore, did not occur without the remarkable counsel of God, since the change in the kingdom did not influence the position of Daniel, as it usually does. For new empires we know to be like turning the world upside down. But Daniel always retained his rank, and thus God's goodness was displayed in him, and wherever he went he carried with him this testimony of God's favor.I shall not proceed further, as we shall discuss a new prophecy to-morrow.
1 - See Dissertation, Number 25, at the close of this Volume.
So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius - That is, to the end of his reign. It is fairly implied here that he was restored to his honors.
And in the reign of Cyrus the Persian - Cyrus the Great, the nephew and successor of Darius. For an account of Cyrus, see the note at Isaiah 41:2. How long during the reign of Cyrus Daniel "prospered" or lived is not said. During a part of the reign of Darius or Cyaxares, he was occupied busily in securing by his influence the welfare of his own people, and making arrangements for their return to their land; and his high post in the nation to which, under Divine Providence, he had doubtless been raised for this purpose, enabled him to render essential and invaluable service at the court. In the third year of Cyrus, we are informed Daniel. 10-12, he had a series of visions respecting the future history and sufferings of his nation to the period of their true redemption through the Messiah, as also a consolatory direction to himself to proceed calmly and peaceably to the end of his days, and then await patiently the resurrection of the dead, Daniel 12:12-13. From that period the accounts respecting him are vague, confused, and even strange, and little or nothing is known of the time or circumstances of his death. Compare Introduction Section I.
From this chapter we may derive the following instructive
(1) We have an instance of what often occurs in the world - of envy on account of the excellency of others, and of the hoonours which they obtain by their talent and their worth, Daniel 6:1-4. Nothing is more frequent than such envy, and nothing more common, as a consequence, than a determination to degrade those who are the subjects of it. Envy always seeks in some way to humble and mortify those who are distinguished. It is the pain, mortification, chagrin, and regret which we have at their superior excellence or prosperity, and this prompts us to endeavor to bring them down to our own level, or below it; to calumniate their characters; to hinder their prosperity; to embarrass them in their plans; to take up and circulate rumours to their disadvantage; to magnify their faults, or to fasten upon them the suspicion of crime. In the instance before us, we see the effect in a most guilty conspiracy against a man of incorruptible character; a man full in the confidence of his sovereign; a man eminently the friend of virtue and of God.
"Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue;
But, like a shadow, proves the substance true."
- Pope's Essay on Criticism.
"Base envy withers at another's joy,
And hates that excellence it cannot reach."
- Thomson's Seasons.
"Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow,
Thou shalt not escape calumny."
"That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect,
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair:
So thou be good, slander doth yet approve
Thy worth the greater."
(2) We have in this chapter Daniel 6:4-9 a striking illustration of the nature and the evils of a conspiracy to ruin others. The plan here was deliberately formed to ruin Daniel - the best man in the realm - a man against whom no charge of guilt could be alleged, who had done the conspirators no wrong; who had rendered himself in no way amenable to the laws. A "conspiracy" is a combination of men for evil purposes; an agreement between two or more persons to commit some crime in concert, usually treason, or an insurrection against a government or state. In this case, it was a plot growing wholly out of envy or jealousy; a concerted agreement to ruin a good man, where no wrong had been done or could be pretended, and no crime had been committed. The essential things in this conspiracy, as in all other cases of conspiracy, were two:
(a) that the purpose was evil; and
(b) that it was to be accomplished by the combined influences of numbers. The means on which they relied, on the grounds of calculation on the success of their plot, were the following:
(1) that they could calculate on the unwavering integrity of Daniel - on his firm and faithful adherence to the principles of his religion in all circumstances, and in all times of temptation and trial; and
(2) that they could induce the king to pass a law, irrepealable from the nature of the case, which Daniel would be certain to violate, and to the penalty of which, therefore, he would be certainly exposed. Now in this purpose there was every element of iniquity, and the grossest conceivable wrong. There were combined all the evils of envy and malice; of perverting and abusing their influence over the king; of secrecy in taking advantage of one who did not suspect any such design; and of involving the king himself in the necessity of exposing the best man in his realm, and the highest officer of state, to the certain danger of death. The result however showed, as is often the case, that the evil recoiled on themselves, and that the very calamity overwhelmed them and their families which they had designed for another.
(3) We have here a striking instance of what often occurs, and what should always occur, among the friends of religion, that "no occasion can be found against them except in regard to the law of their God" - on the score of their religion, Daniel 6:5. Daniel was known to be upright. His character for integrity was above suspicion. It was certain that there was no hope of bringing any charge against him that would lie, for any want of uprightness or honesty, for any failure in the discharge of the duties of his office, for any malversation in administering the affairs of the government, for any embezzlement of the public funds, or for any act of injustice toward his fellow-men. It was certain that his character was irreproachable on all these points; and it was equally certain that he did and would maintain unwavering fidelity in the duties of religion. Whatever consequences might follow from it, it was clear that they could calculate on his maintaining with faithfulness the duties of piety.
Whatever plot, therefore, could be formed against him on the basis either of his moral integrity or his piety, it was certain would be successful. But there was no hope in regard to the former, for no law could have been carried prohibiting his doing what was right on the subject of morals. The only hope, therefore, was in respect to his religion; and the main idea in their plot - the thing which constituted the basis of their plan was, "that it was certain that Daniel would maintain his fidelity to his God irrspective of any consequences whatever." This certainty ought to exist in regard to every good man; every man professing religion. His character ought to be so well understood; his piety ought to be so firm, unwavering, and consistent, that it could be calculated on just as certainly as we calculate on the stability of the laws of nature, that he will be found faithful to his religious duties and obligations. There are such men, and the character of every man should be such. Then indeed we should know what to depend on in the world; then religion would be reapected as it should be.
(4) We may learn what is our duty when we are opposed in the exercise of our religion, or when we are in any way threatened with loss of office, or of property, on account of our religion, Daniel 6:10. "We are to persevere in the discharge of our religious duties, whatever may be the consequences." So far as the example of Daniel goes, this would involve two things:
(a) not to swerve from the faithful performance of duty, or not to be deterred from it; and
(b) not to change our course from any desire of display.
These two things were manifested by Daniel. He kept steadily on his way. He did not abridge the number of times of his daily devotion; nor, as far as appears, did he change the form or the length. He did not cease to pray in an audible voice; he did not give up prayer in the daytime, and pray only at night; he did not even close his windows; he did not take any precautions to pray when none were near; he did not withdraw into an inner chamber. At the same time, he made no changes in his devotion for the sake of ostentation. He did not open his windows before closed; he did not go into the street; he did not call around him his friends or foes to witness his devotions; he did not, as far as appears, either elevate his voice, or prolong his prayers, in order to attract attention, or to invite persecution. In all this he manifested the true spirit of religion, and set an example to men to be followed in all ages. Not by the loss of fame or money; by the dread of persecution, or contempt of death; by the threatenings of law or the fear of shame, are we to be deterred from the proper and the usual performance of our religious duties; nor by a desire to provoke persecution, and to win the crown of martyrdom, and to elicit applause, and to have our names blazoned abroad, are we to multiply our religious acts, or make an ostentatious display of them, when we are threatened, or when we know that our conduct will excite opposition. We are to ascertain what is right and proper; and then we are modestly and firmly to do it, no matter what may be the consequences. Compare Matthew 5:16; Acts 4:16-20; Acts 5:29.
(5) We have, in the case of Darius, an instance of what often happens, the regret and anguish which the mind experiences in consequence of a rash act, when it cannot be repaired, Daniel 6:14. The act of Darius in making the decree was eminently a rash one. It was done without deliberation at the suggestion of others, and probably under the influence of some very improper feeling - the desire of being esteemed as a god. But it had consequences which he did not foresee, consequences which, if he had foreseen them, would doubtless have prevented his giving a sanction to this iniquitous law. The state of mind which he experienced when he saw how the act involved the best officer in his government, and the best man in his realm, was just what might have been expected, and is an illustration of what often occurs. It was too late now to prevent the effects of the act; and his mind was overwhelmed with remorse and sorrow. He blamed himself for his folly; and he sought in vain for some way to turn aside the consequences which he now deplored. Such instances often occur.
(a) Many of our acts are rash. They are performed without deliberation; under the influence of improper passions; at the suggestion of others who would be thought to be our friends; and without any clear view of the consequences, or any concern as to what the result may be.
(b) As an effect, they often have consequences which we did not anticipate, and which would have deterred us in each instance had we foreseen them.
(c) They often produce reset and anguish when too late, and when we cannot prevent the evil. The train of evils which has been commenced it is now too late to retard or prevent, and they now inevitably come upon us. We can only stand and weep over the effects of our rashness and folly; and must now feel that if the evil is averted, it will be by the interposition of God alone.
(6) We have in this chapter an affecting instance of the evils which often arise in a human goovernment from the want of something like an atonement, Daniel 6:14, following As has been remarked in the notes, cases often arise when it is desirable that pardon should be extended to the violators of law See the notes at Daniel 6:14. In such cases, some such arrangement as that of an atonement, by which the honor of the law might be maintained, and at the same time the merciful feelings of an executive might be indulged, and the benevolent wishes of a community gratified, would remove difficulties which are now felt in every administration. The difficulties in the case, and the advantage which would arise from an atonement, may be seen by a brief reference to the circumstances of the case before us:
(a) the law was inexorable. It demanded punishment, as all law does, for no law in itself makes any provision for pardon. If it did, it would be a burlesque on all legislation. Law denounces penalty it does not pardon or show mercy. It has become necessary indeed to lodge a pardoning power with some man entrusted with the administration of the laws, but the pardon is not extended by the law itself.
(b) The anxiety of the king in the case is an illustration of what often occurs in the administration of law, for, as above observed, there are cases where, on many accounts, it would seem to be desirable that the penalty of the law should not be inflicted. Such a case was that of Dr. Dodd, in London, in which a petition, signed by thirty thousand names, was presented, praying for the remission of the penalty of death. Such a case was that of Major Andre, when Washington shed tears at the necessity of signing the death-warrant of so young and so accomplished an officer. Such cases often occur, in which there is the deepest anxiety in the bosom of an executive to see if there is not some way by which the infliction of the penalty of the law may be avoided.
(c) Yet there was in the case of Darius no possibility of a change, and this too is an illustration of what often occurs. The law was inexorable. It could not be repealed. So now there are instances where the penalty of law cannot be avoided consistently with the welfare of a community. Punishment must be inflicted, or all law become a nullity. An instance of this kind was that of Dr. Dodd. He was convicted of forgery. So important had it been deemed for the welfare of a commercial community that that crime should be prevented, that no one ever had been pardoned for it, and it was felt that no one should be. Such an instance was that of Major Andre. The safety and welfare of the whole army, and the success of the cause, seemed to demand that the offence should not go unpunished.
(d) Yet there are difficulties in extending pardon to the guilty;
(1) if it is done at all, it always does so much to weaken the strong arm of the law, and if often done, it makes law a nullity; and
(2) if it is never done, the law seems stern and inexorable, and the finer feelings of our nature, and the benevolent wishes of the community, are disregarded.
(e) These difficulties are obviated by an atonement. The things which are accomplished in the atonement made under the Divine government, we think, so far as this point is concerned, and which distinguishes pardon in the Divine administration from pardon everywhere else, relieving it from all the embarrassments felt in other governments, are the following:
(1) There is the utmost respect paid to the law. It is honored
(aa) in the personal obedience of the Lord Jesus, and
(bb) in the sacrifice which he made on the cross to maintain its dignity, and to show that it could not be violated with impunity - more honored by far than it would be by the perfect obedience of man himself, or by its penalty being borne by the sinner.
(2) pardon can be offered to any extent, or to any number of offenders. All the feelings of benevolence and mercy can be indulged and gratified in the most free manner, for now that an atonement is made, all proper honor has been shown to the law and to the claims of justice, and no interest will suffer though the most ample proclamation of pardon is issued. There is but one government in the universe that can safely to itself make an unlimited offer of pardon - that is, the government of God. There is not a human government that could safely make the offer which we meet everywhere in the Bible, that all offences may be forgiven: that all violators of law may be pardoned. If such a proclamation were made, there is no earthly administration that could hope to stand; no community which would not soon become the prey of lawless plunder and robbery. The reason, and the sole reason, why it can be done in the Divine administration is, that an atonement has been made by which the honor of the law has been secured, and by which it is shown that, while pardon is extended to all, the law is to be honored, and can never be violated with impunity.
(3) The plan of pardon by the atonement secures the observance of the law on the part of those who are pardoned. This can never be depended on when an offender against human laws is pardoned, and when a convict is discharged from the penitentiary. So far as the effect of punishment, or any influence from the act of pardon is concerned, there is no security that the pardoned convict will not, as his first act, force a dwelling or commit murder. But in the case of all who are pardoned through the atonement, it is made certain that they will be obedient to the laws of God, and that their lives will be changed from sin to holiness, from disobedience to obedience. This has been secured by incorporating into the plan a provision by which the heart shall be changed before pardon is granted: not as the ground or reason of pardon, but as essential to it. The heart of the sinner is renewed by the Holy Spirit, and he becomes in fact obedient, and is disposed to lead a life of holiness. Thus every hinderance which exists in a human government to pardon is removed in the Divine administration; the honor of law is secured; the feelings of benevolence are gratified, and the sinner becomes obedient and holy.
(7) We have in this chapter Daniel 6:16 an instance of the confidence which wicked men are constrained to express in the true God. Darius had no doubt that the God whom Daniel served was able to protect and deliver him. The same may be said now. Wicked men know that it is safe to trust in God; that he is able to save his friends; that there is more security in the ways of virtue than in the ways of sin; and that when human help fails, it is proper to repose on the Almighty arm. There is a feeling in the human heart that they who confide in God are safe, and that it is proper to rely on his arm; and even a wicked father will not hesitate to exhort a Christian son or daughter to serve their God faithfully, and to confide in him in the trials and temptations of life. Ethan Allen, of Vermont, distinguished in the American revolution, was an infidel. His wife was an eminent Christian. When he was about to die, he was asked which of the two he wished his son to imitate in his religious views - his father or his mother. He replied, "His mother."
(8) The righteous may look for the Divine protection and favor Daniel 6:22; that is, it is an advantage in this world of danger, and temptation, and trial, to be truly religious; or, in other words, those who are righteous may confidently expect the Divine interposition in their behalf. It is, indeed, a question of some difficulty, but of much importance, to what extent, and in what forms we are authorized now to look for the Divine interposition in our behalf, or what is the real benefit of religion in this world, so far as the Divine protection is concerned; and on this point it seems not inappropriate to lay down a few principles that may be of use, and that may be a proper application of the passage before us to our own circumstances:
(A) There is then a class of Scripture promises that refer to such protection, and that lead us to believe that we may look for the Divine interference in favor of the righteous, or that there is, in this respect, an advantage in true religion. In support of this, reference may be made to the following, among other passages of Scripture: Psalm 34:7, Psalm 34:17-22; Psalm 55:22; Psalm 91:1-8; Isaiah 43:1-2; Luke 12:6-7; Hebrews 1:14; Hebrews 13:5-6.
(B) In regard to the proper interpretation of these passages, or to the nature and extent of the Divine interposition, which we may expect in behalf of the righteous, it may be remarked.
I. That we are not to expect now the following things:
(a) The Divine interposition by miracle. It is the common opinion of the Christian world that the age of miracles is past; and certainly there is nothing in the Bible that authorizes us to expect that God will now interpose for us in that manner. It would be a wholly illogical inference, however, to maintain that there never has been any such interposition in behalf of the righteous; since a reason may have existed for such an interposition in former times which may not exist now.
(b) We are not authorized to expect that God will interpose by sending his angels visibly to protect and deliver us in the day of peril. The fair interpretation of those passages of Scripture which refer to that subject, as Psalm 34:7; Hebrews 1:14, does not require us to believe that there will be such interposition, and there is no evidence that such interposition takes place. This fact, however, should not be regarded as proof, either
(1) that no such visible interposition has ever occurred in former times - since it in no way demonstrates that point; or
(2) that the angels may not interpose in our behalf now, though to us invisible. For anything that can be proved to the contrary, it may still be true that the angels may be, invisibly, "ministering spirits to those who shall be heirs of salvation," and that they may be sent to accompany the souls of the righteous on their way to heaven, as they were to conduct Lazarus to Abraham's bosom, Luke 16:22.
(c) We are not authorized to expect that God will set aside the regular laws of nature in our behalf - that he will thus interpose for us in regard to diseases, to pestilence, to storms, to mildew, to the ravages of the locust or the caterpillar - for this would be a miracle and all the interposition which we are entitled to expect must be consistent with the belief that the laws of nature will be regarded.
(d) We are not authorized to expect that the righteous will never be overwhelmed with the wicked in calamity - that in an explosion on a steam-boat, in a shipwreck, in fire or flood, in an earthquake or in the pestilence, they will not be cut down together. To suppose that God would directly interpose in behalf of his people in such cases, would be to suppose that there would be miracles still, and there is nothing in the Bible, or in the facts that occur, to justify such an expectation.
II. The Divine interposition which we are authorized to expect, may be referred to under the following particulars:
(a) All events, great and small, are under the control of the God who loves righteousness - the God of the righteous. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice; not an event happens without his permission. If, therefore, calamity comes upon the righteous, it is not because the world is without control; it is not because God could not prevent it; it must be because he sees it best that it should be so.
(b) There is a general course of events that is favorable to virtue and religion; that is, there is a state of things on earth which demonstrates that there is a moral government over men. The essence of such a government, as Bishop Butler (Analogy) has shown, is, that virtue, in the course of things, is rewarded as virtue, and that vice is punished as vice. This course of things is so settled and clear as to show that God is the friend of virtue and religion, and the enemy of vice and irreligion - that is, that under his administration, the one, as a great law, has a tendency to promote happiness; the other to produce misery. But if so, there is an advantage in being righteous; or there is a Divine interposition in behalf of the righteous.
(c) There are large classes of evils which a man will certainly avoid by virtue and religion, and those evils are among the most severe that afflict mankind. A course of virtue and religion will make it certain that those evils will never come upon him or his family. Thus, for example, by so simple a thing as total abstinence from intoxicating drinks, a man will certainly avoid all the evils that afflict the drunkard - the poverty, disease, disgrace, wretchedness, and ruin of body and soul which are certain to follow from intemperance. By chastity, a man will avoid the woes that come, in the righteous visitation of God, on the debauchee, in the form of the most painful and loathsome of the diseases that afflict our race. By integrity a man will avoid the evils of imprisonment for crime, and the disgrace which attaches to its committal. And by religion - pure religion - by the calmness of mind which it produces - the confidence in God; the cheerful submission to his will; the contentment which it causes, and the hopes of a better world which it inspires, a man will certainly avoid a large class of evils which unsettle the mind, and which fill with wretched victims the asylums for the insane.
Let a man take up the report of an insane asylum, and ask what proportion of its inmates would have been saved from so fearful a malady by true religion; by the calmness which it produces in trouble; by its influence in moderating the passions and restraining the desires; by the acquiescence in the will of God which it produces, and he will be surprised at the number which would have been saved by it from the dreadful evils of insanity. As an illustration of this, I took up the Report of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, for the year 1850, which happened to be lying before me, and looked to see what were the causes of insanity in regard to the inmates of the asylum, with a view to the inquiry what proportion of them would probably have been saved from it by the proper influence of religion. Of 1599 patients whose cases were referred to, I found the following, a large part of whom, it may be supposed, would have been saved from insanity if their minds had been under the proper influence of the gospel of Christ, restraining them from sin, moderating their passions, checking their desires, and giving them calmness and submission in the midst of trouble:
Intemperance 95 Loss of property 72 Dread of poverty 2 Intense study 19 Domestic difficulties 48 Grief for the loss of friends 77 Intense application to business 3 Religious excitement 61 Want of employment 24 Mortified pride 3 Use of opium and tobacco 10 Mental anxiety 77 (d) There are cases where God seems to interpose in behalf of the righteous directly, in answer to prayer, in times of sickness, poverty, and danger - raising them up from the borders of the grave; providing for their wants in a manner which appears to be as providential as when the ravens fed Elijah, and rescuing them from danger. There are numerous such cases which cannot be well accounted for on any other supposition than that God does directly interpose in their behalf, and show them these mercies because they are his friends. These are not miracles. The purpose to do this was a part of the original plan when the world was made, and the prayer and the interposition are only the fulfilling of the eternal decree.
(e) God does interpose in behalf of his children in giving them support and consolation; in sustaining them in the time of trial; in upholding them in bereavement and sorrow, and in granting them peace as they go into the valley of the shadow of death. The evidence here is clear, that there is a degree of comfort and peace given to true Christians in such seasons, and given in consequence of their religion, which is not granted to the wicked, and to which the devotees of the world are strangers. And if these things are so, then it is clear that there is an advantage in this life in being righteous, and that God does now interpose in the course of events, and in the day of trouble, in behalf of his friends.
(9) God often overrules the malice of men to make himself known, and constrains the wicked to acknowledge him, Daniel 6:25-27. Darius, like Nebuchadnezzar, was constrained to acknowledge him as the true God, and to make proclamation of this throughout his vast empire. So often, by his providence, God constrains the wicked to acknowledge him as the true God, and as ruling in the affairs of men. His interpositions are so apparent; his works are so vast; the proofs of his administration are so clear; and he so defeats the counsels of the wicked, that they cannot but feel that he rules, and they cannot but acknowledge and proclaim it. It is in this way that from age to age God is raising up a great number of witnesses even among the wicked to acknowledge his existence, and to proclaim the great truths of his government; and it is in this way, among others, that he is constraining the intellect of the world to bow before him. Ultimately all this will be so clear, that the intellect of the world will acknowledge it, and all kings and people will see, as Darius did, that "he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom what shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be unto the end."
So this Daniel prospered - He had served fine kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-merodach, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. Few courtiers have had so long a reign, served so many masters without flattering any, been more successful in their management of public affairs, been so useful to the states where they were in office, or have been more owned of God, or have left such an example to posterity.
Where shall we find ministers like Samuel and Daniel? None so wise, so holy, so disinterested, so useful, have ever since appeared in the nations of the earth.
So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius,.... This Daniel, of whom so much has been said all the preceding chapters, and who had been so lately and so wonderfully delivered from the lions' den, the same flourished throughout the reign of Darius the Mede; continued a favourite with the king; retained his honour and dignity; and kept his posts and places of trust and profit. Darius the Mede reigned two years; though Jarchi says he reigned but one, and was slain in war; for which he refers to Joseph ben Gorion, who has not a word of it.
And in the reign of Cyrus the Persian; who, as Jacchiades says, was the son-in-law of Darius, and inherited the kingdom after him; which is true, for he married the daughter of Cyaxares or Darius who was his uncle, and succeeded him as sole monarch of the empire: he reigned with him the two years he had the government of the Babylonish monarchy; and when he died, it solely devolved on him, who reigned seven years after, as Xenophon (s) relates; but the canon of Ptolemy ascribes nine years to his reign, which includes the two years he was partner with Darius. Daniel was in the same favour with this prince as the former, who in the first year of his reign proclaimed liberty to the Jews to return to their country, and build their temple; whether Daniel lived throughout his reign is not certain; he was alive in the third year of it, as appears from Daniel 10:1, some take Darius and Cyrus to be one and the same person, and render this last clause as explanative of the former, "even", or, "that is, in the reign of Cyrus the Persian" (t).
(s) Cyropaedia, l. 8. c 45. (t) Vid Nicolai Abram. Pharus Vet. Test. l. 12. c. 24. p. 338.
It was in the third year of Cyrus that Daniel's visions (Daniel. 10:1-12:13) were given. Daniel "prospered" because of his prophecies (Ezra 1:1-2).
This chapter treats of the same subject as the second chapter. But there the four kingdoms, and Messiah's final kingdom, were regarded according to their external political aspect, but here according to the mind of God concerning them, and their moral features. The outward political history had been shown in its general features to the world ruler, whose position fitted him for receiving such a revelation. But God's prophet here receives disclosures as to the characters of the powers of the world, in a religious point of view, suited to his position and receptivity. Hence in the second chapter the images are taken from the inanimate sphere; in the seventh chapter they are taken from the animate. Nebuchadnezzar saw superficially the world power as a splendid human figure, and the kingdom of God as a mere stone at the first. Daniel sees the world kingdoms in their inner essence as of an animal nature lower than human, being estranged from God; and that only in the kingdom of God ("the Son of man," the representative man) is the true dignity of man realized. So, as contrasted with Nebuchadnezzar's vision, the kingdom of God appears to Daniel, from the very first, superior to the world kingdom. For though in physical force the beasts excel man, man has essentially spiritual powers. Nebuchadnezzar's colossal image represents mankind in its own strength, but only the outward man. Daniel sees man spiritually degraded to the beast level, led by blind impulses, through his alienation from God. It is only from above that the perfect Son of man comes, and in His kingdom man attains his true destiny. Compare Psalm 8:1-9 with Genesis 1:26-28. Humanity is impossible without divinity: it sinks to bestiality (Psalm 32:9; Psalm 49:20; Psalm 73:22). Obstinate heathen nations are compared to "bulls" (Psalm 68:30); Egypt to the dragon in the Nile (Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9; Ezekiel 29:3). The animal with all its sagacity looks always to the ground, without consciousness of relation to God. What elevates man is communion with God, in willing subjection to Him. The moment he tries to exalt himself to independence of God, as did Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30), he sinks to the beast's level. Daniel's acquaintance with the animal colossal figures in Babylon and Nineveh was a psychological preparation for his animal visions. Hosea 13:7-8 would occur to him while viewing those ensigns of the world power. Compare Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 5:6.
*More commentary available at chapter level.