Read Microsoft Word - Chapter 6.docx text version

CHAPTER SIX

The New Government under Darius

verses 1­3

1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

Another critical attack The fifth and sixth chapters of Daniel imply that Belshazzar's successor was a king by the name of Darius the Mede. But after the Medes and Persians defeated the Babylonians, the next king over Babylon as well as the entire Medo-Persian Empire was Cyrus the Persian.1 As far as secular critics are concerned, this seeming discrepancy between history and Daniel proves that the book was written by a second-century B.C. author with confused notions about the past. Supposedly, he did not know that Cyrus conquered Babylon even though this fact was attested by available Greek accounts. His picture of history was so askew that he sandwiched a Median Empire between the Babylonian and Persian Empires. Critics foist such ignorance on the author for one reason only. They wish to satisfy themselves that there is nothing prophetic in the series of four empires which the author twice envisions, once in chapter 2 and again in chapter 7. Recognizing that even a second-century author could not have foreseen the Roman Empire, they are unwilling to concede that the empires are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. So, they maintain that the empires are Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. Gubaru Further light on the identity of Darius comes from the Nabonidus Chronicle. This text, portions of which survive on a clay tablet first deciphered in the nineteenth century,2 offers the following brief account of the fall of Babylon:

148

In the month of Tashritu, when Cyrus attacked the army of Akkad in Opis on the Tigris, the inhabitants of Akkad revolted, but he (Nabonidus) massacred the confused inhabitants. The 14th day, Sippar was seized without battle. Nabonidus fled. The 16th day, Ugbaru, the governor of Gutium and the army of Cyrus entered Babylon without battle. Afterwards Nabonidus was arrested in Babylon when he returned (there). Till the end of the month, the shield (-carrying) Gutians were staying within Esagila (but) nobody carried arms in Esagila and its (pertinent) buildings, the correct time (for a ceremony) was not missed. In the month of Arahshamnu, the 3d day, Cyrus entered Babylon, green twigs were spread in front of him--the state of Peace (sulmu) was imposed upon the city. Cyrus sent greetings to all Babylon. Gubaru, his governor, installed (sub-) governors in Babylon. From the month of Kislimu to the month of Addaru, the gods of Akkad which Nabonidus had made come down to Babylon . . . returned to their sacred cities. In the month of Arahshamnu, on the night of the 11th day, Ugbaru died. In the month of [Arahshamnu, the . . .th day, the wi]fe of the king died.3

The chronicle reveals that when Cyrus conquered the Babylonians, he appointed Gubaru as his governor over Babylon, a province known in contemporary documents as Babylon and the Region beyond the River.4 Although nearly as large as Nebuchadnezzar's whole empire,5 this province was only a small fraction of the Medo-Persian Empire, which stretched all the way from Asia Minor to India.6 In the Nabonidus Chronicle, Gubaru's title is "governor," but in the Persian period many subrulers or governors were called kings.7 Therefore, as John C. Whitcomb has argued at length, it is reasonable to equate this Gubaru with Darius the Mede.8 Archaeological studies have established beyond question that Babylon fell to the Persians in 539 B.C.9 According to the Book of Daniel, Darius was then sixty-two years old (Daniel 5:31). Many tablets bearing dated records of business transactions have survived from the early period of Persian rule, and the name Gubaru, generally with the title "governor," appears on twenty-seven of them.10 The last is from 525/524.11 If that was the year of his death, and if Gubaru and Darius were indeed one and the same, Darius attained an age of about seventyseven years. Why does the first Medo-Persian governor of Babylon have different names in secular and sacred history? It was not uncommon for a king in the ancient world to boast many names. No less than five names were adopted by each pharaoh of Egypt, for example.12 A king like Darius probably had two names: a personal name bestowed at birth, and an honorific or throne name added when he became king.13 Since several later kings of Persia were also called Darius, a good presumption is that Gubaru was his personal name and Darius was his throne name, or royal title.14

149

Shadows of the true power structure In several statements, the author of Daniel shows that he viewed Darius as a governor under Cyrus and not as the ruler of a Median Empire. 1. The author says that Darius was "made" king (Daniel 9:1). By whom was he made king if not by a superior ruler? 2. The author identifies Darius's kingdom as "the realm of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 9:1). Whether this refers to the region of lower Mesopotamia known as Chaldea or to the whole territory of the former Babylonian Empire is unclear. But the designation surely does not take in Media or other areas never controlled by the Babylonians. Hence, where the author has an opportunity to portray Darius as the chief of a Median Empire, he instead gives him a kingdom no larger than the Persian province of Babylon and the Region beyond the River. 3. The author reports that Darius was subject to the law of the Medes and Persians (Daniel 6:12, 15). Why would Darius have been subject to Persian law if he was the head of a Median Empire? 4. The author recalls that Daniel (who was none other than the author himself) predicted the overthrow of Babylon by a joint effort of the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:28); moreover, that Daniel recognized the Persians as the leading partner in the alliance (Daniel 5:28). Darius's new government One of Darius's first acts as governor was to appoint 120 princes, or satraps (verse 1). Secular history also remembers this initiative. The Nabonidus Chronicle states that soon after he took power, Gubaru "installed (sub-)governors in Babylon."15 What is surprising is not that a new ruler would choose men to work under him, but that the chronicler deemed this act noteworthy enough to be included in his very concise record of events attending the fall of Babylon. He undoubtedly reflects general thinking at the time. For reasons scholars today can only surmise, observers saw Darius's first steps to organize a new government as highly significant. Perhaps they were surprised that the appointments were made by Darius rather than by his overlord, Cyrus, or perhaps they saw the displacement of entrenched Babylonian officials as a revolutionary development. In any case, the statement in Daniel that Darius moved swiftly to place his own men in top positions is evidence that the author of this book was another contemporary observer.

150

Daniel's new position When the soldiers of Cyrus swarmed into Babylon, they acted with restraint and thus spared the city much ruin and bloodshed. Aside from the king himself, not many were killed. Consequently, many were left in the city who could tell the conquerors about Belshazzar's feast. The news must have quickly reached Darius that a supernatural hand had written a message on the wall of the palace, a message foretelling the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians. The writing on the wall was perhaps still visible. Inquiries from the king would have soon discovered that none of Belshazzar's counselors had been able to decipher the message except Daniel, and that in reward for his wisdom Belshazzar had raised Daniel to third place in the kingdom. Darius may have learned also of the influential role that Daniel had played during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. While Darius pondered what to do, spies may have come to him with the report that the whole city was abuzz with admiration for the aged Jew who not only could discern the mind of God, but who could stand up before a king and fearlessly pronounce his doom. Therefore, in a bid both for public support and for the support of Daniel's God, Darius wisely resolved to elevate the seer as high as Belshazzar had done. He made Daniel chief of the three presidents who supervised the 120 satraps (verses 2­3). As a result, Daniel held third place in the province of Babylon. Ahead of him stood Darius the governor and Cyrus the emperor. Daniel's preferment was in recognition of his "excellent spirit" (verse 3). Most readers infer from modern usage of this expression that Daniel had a good attitude--that he was uncommonly cooperative and congenial. No doubt he was, but the writer is Daniel himself, and Daniel is not boasting here of his own excellence. Rather, he is pointing to the fact well known throughout his long career that in him was found "the spirit of the holy God" (Daniel 4:8; 5:11). The excellent spirit in him was not his spirit, but God's Spirit.

The Trap Laid for Daniel

verses 4­9

4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. 6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.

151

7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

The investigation Daniel's preeminence provoked other officials to jealousy. As Medes and Persians, they must have felt that "to the victor go the spoils." Yet they were forced to serve under a man who, by virtue of his connections, had two stigmas. Not only was he a holdover from the regime of the defeated Babylonians; he was also a Jew. So, these officials sought grounds for an accusation against him. But in neither his public nor his private conduct could they find any hint of corruption or incompetence or disloyalty. Rather than expose any fault, they found only that he was faithful in keeping the law of his God (verses 4­5). His obedience to the law must therefore have been out in the open, on public display. His private convictions were not concealed under public compromise. The plot Daniel's enemies discovered that his religious practices included praying three times daily to his God. Having minds that ran quickly to mischief, they soon thought how they might turn his daily prayers into a form of treason. They came to the king with a proposal. They said, in essence, "Publish a decree that for the next thirty days, whoever petitions any god or man save yourself will be executed" (verses 6­8). To think that the decree forbade casual requests of a friend or neighbor would be wrong. Rather, it sought only to suspend all requests of any human leader aside from Darius, as well as all requests of any god. For thirty days, Darius alone would receive the requests normally directed to other high authorities. The requests would perhaps be channeled through his subordinates, but he would be the one addressed. Why Darius consented to the decree We today are so distant from the cultural and historical setting of Daniel 6 that we tend to view Darius's decree as an egotistical whim prompted by the flattery of his courtiers. But Darius was a level-headed, successful leader. He would never have imposed such a disagreeable

152

requirement upon newly conquered and potentially restive subjects except for compelling reasons. The reasons were perhaps these: 1. Many in the vast populace now under Darius's control had never even heard his name before. Moreover, he was somewhat overshadowed by a higher ruler, Cyrus. Therefore, Darius welcomed any scheme for making himself known to his subjects and for implanting firmly in their minds the idea that he was their leader, the one to whom they owed allegiance. In other words, he desired name recognition. 2. The Medes and Persians worshiped a single deity Ahura-Mazda, whom they represented in their temples not by idols, but by a sacred flame. Perhaps Darius was trying to introduce his monotheistic religion to the Babylonians by weaning them away from their polytheistic idolatry. Therefore, he demanded that they address him rather than any of their traditional gods. Perhaps also he wanted to teach his subjects the Medo-Persian belief that the king stood between his people and AhuraMazda.16 Therefore, to bring petitions before the one real god in Darius's view, before Ahura-Mazda, the people need not address him directly or go through priests. The king could serve as mediator.

Daniel's Unshaken Testimony for God

verse 10

10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Daniel's response to the decree The west-facing windows in Daniel's upper chamber opened toward Jerusalem (verse 10). When he went there to pray, he was probably visible to anyone watching from the roofs or upper stories of houses nearby. So, in this sense, his prayer life was public. After learning of the decree, Daniel could easily have convinced himself that his duty to pray would be fulfilled by praying in secret. But for several reasons he realized that to stop praying in public would ruin his testimony. 1. Instead of upholding the religion of Israel as the only way of truth and salvation, he would be encouraging others to believe that his religion fitted somehow into the syncretistic system of the Medes and Persians. Thus, he would be dishonoring God. 2. He would be disregarding heavenly protocol. The only true God had no representatives on earth except the prophets, priests, and kings of Israel. Among these prophets was Daniel himself. It was not that 153

Daniel outranked Darius. Darius had no standing at all, for at this moment in his life he neither acknowledged Israel's God as supreme nor obeyed His law. 3. He would be ignoring God's desire for uninterrupted fellowship with His people. In light of all these considerations, Daniel decided to go on with his customary prayer and worship as if the decree had never been issued (verse 10). Daniel's manner of worship For every aspect of his worship, Daniel sought the instruction of God's Word. 1. Daniel prayed toward Jerusalem. He knew that Solomon, in his dedicatory prayer for the Temple, had considered this practice essential for regaining the Lord's favor upon the Jews at a time of national captivity.

36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; 37 Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; 38 If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: 39 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. 2 Chronicles 6:36­39

2. Daniel prayed three times a day. In so doing, he was following the psalmist's example.

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. Psalm 55:17

3. Daniel knelt. This was a time-honored practice often mentioned in Scripture.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. Psalm 95:6

Other passages that speak of kneeling in the Lord's presence include 1 Kings 8:54 and Isaiah 45:23. 154

By kneeling, Daniel was not making a show of his humility, but giving witness to the greatness of his God. Must we kneel when we pray? No, Scripture does not command us to kneel. Often when we need to pray, kneeling is impossible. We cannot kneel when we are lying on a bed of sickness or walking into danger. But if we ever hesitate to get on our knees because we feel that such a posture is too demeaning, then we had better kneel.

Darius's Impotence to Save Daniel from the Lions

verses 11­15

11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. 14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. 15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.

The king's love for Daniel Soon after the decree was issued, Daniel's enemies gathered near his house at the time of prayer and watched. Much to their delight, they saw that the decree had not changed his habits. He walked bravely to his windows on the west and, in full view of his enemies, knelt down in worship and prayer before the God of Israel (verse 11). Without delay, the plotters gained an audience with the king and formally charged Daniel with violating the king's decree (verses 12­13). When Darius heard that his decree had entangled Daniel in a capital offense, he was greatly troubled and full of regret, and he labored all day in search of a way to save Daniel's life (verse 14). But the law that had ensnared Daniel was ironclad. No loophole could be found. It was impossible either to rescind the law or waive the penalty.

155

Daniel had held his position as chief president for only a brief time, yet already the king greatly respected and loved him. It appears that in his old age, he still had the same gracious and charming manner which, in his youth, had won the affection of Ashpenaz and Arioch and even Nebuchadnezzar. Irrevocable laws No law of the Medes and the Persians could be undone. Why the king's power was curbed in this way is uncertain. The purpose was perhaps to assure even-handed justice. A king could not selectively enforce a law so as to punish his enemies and protect his friends. Or the purpose was perhaps to create the illusion that the king was infallible. He would shatter the illusion if, by overturning his own earlier decision, he acknowledged that he had made a mistake. Several incidents in the Book of Esther demonstrate that the word of a Medo-Persian king could not be changed. For example, when King Ahasuerus was angry with Vashti, his queen, one of his chief princes advised,

If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. Esther 1:19

On a later occasion, Ahasuerus said,

Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse. Esther 8:8

The den of lions The conspirators secured Darius's consent that any violator of the king's decree would be thrown into a den of lions (verses 7, 12). This vindictive punishment perfectly suited the mentality of the Medes and Persians. When executing a capital offender, they made his death as much of a gruesome spectacle as possible.17 Yet, unlike the Babylonians, they would not have cast any criminal into a fiery furnace, for fire was the sacred symbol of their god, Ahuramazda.18 The routine method of execution among the Medes and Persians was to impale the victim on a sharpened stake and then to raise the stake high for all to see.19 The device that the Persian lord Haman prepared for the execution of the Jew Mordecai was not actually a "gallows," as stated in the KJV (Esther 5:14). The Hebrew word, which means

156

simply "tree," refers to a long stake for impalement.20 Haman intended to hoist the body of Mordecai fifty cubits (seventy-five feet) into the air. Although the Book of Daniel is the only ancient source that speaks of the Medes and Persians throwing criminals to the lions, such a punishment would certainly have been feasible. Lions were plentiful in the ancient Middle East. The Assyrian monarch Ashurnasirpal II (883­859) boasted,

By my outstretched arm (lit., hand) and impetuous courage, fifteen mighty lions from the mountains and the forests I seized with my hand, and fifty lion-cubs I carried away, and, in the city of Calah and the palaces of my land, put them in cages, and I caused them to bring forth their cubs in abundance. . . . And 370 mighty lions, like caged birds, I slew with the javelin.21

Also, throwing criminals to the lions would certainly have been effective as a deterrent to more crime. The furious ground-shaking roar of the beasts as they leaped upon their victim would have chilled the heart of the bravest onlooker. The account of Daniel's ordeal in the lions' den implies that the beasts were confined to a pit below the level of the spectators, for it says that Darius ordered his men to "take Daniel up out of the den" (verse 23) and that when Daniel's accusers were cast into the den, "The lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den" (verse 24). The account also suggests that people could enter or leave the den only through a single small opening. To make the den fully secure from either escape or intrusion, the authorities did no more than affix the king's seal to a stone laid upon the den's mouth (verse 17). It is evident that the den must have been underground or under a roof that prevented access from above. If the pit had only a single opening, how did the keepers clean it? The design typical of the lions' dens that existed in the Middle East during premodern times suggests that the den of Darius was separated into two compartments by a door operated from an overlook.22 Such an arrangement would have permitted the keepers, with the aid of various inducements, to separate the animals into two groups or gather them all into one compartment. The entrance that Darius sealed probably led to an overlook rather than to the den itself. Could Darius have saved Daniel just by feeding the lions? No, a cat does not kill only when hungry. The lions could have eaten raw meat until they were gorged, and still, as soon as a warm body was thrown to them, they would have mauled it to death.

157

Daniel's Deliverance by an Angel

verses 16­23

16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? 21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. 23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

Darius's ambivalence In two ways Darius expressed hope that Daniel might be delivered by God. 1. When he committed Daniel to the pit, he confidently advised him to trust in his God for deliverance (verse 16). How did Darius have any knowledge of Daniel's God? He had doubtless heard the amazing history of Daniel and his three friends. He knew that the God of Israel had often used miraculous means to protect and exalt His servants. If by no one else, Darius was surely told these things by Daniel himself. After Daniel had won that great monarch Nebuchadnezzar to faith in the true God, he would not have shrunk from witnessing to Darius. By now, Daniel was about eighty years old. It is characteristic of older saints that they come to see life realistically, as meaningless and unsatisfying if not spent in winning souls and serving God. 2. When morning came, Darius ran to the den of lions and cried out Daniel's name, evidently believing that Daniel might not be dead (verse 20). Yet in two ways Darius also expressed fear for Daniel's safety.

158

1. He was so disturbed by his failure to protect Daniel and so anxious about Daniel's fate that he could not sleep (verse 18). 2. When he came to the den in the morning, he called out to Daniel "with a lamentable voice," and his pathetic greeting was to ask Daniel whether he was still alive (verse 20). The deliverance revealed in the morning light When Daniel heard the king's call, he answered reassuringly that he was safe and unharmed (verses 21­22). Notice how relaxed Daniel was as he sat in the eerie darkness of a den reeking with the stench of lions. All about him he could sense the heavy breathing of huge beasts. Yet he took time to address the king with the usual formality, "O king, live forever," and then to recount all that had happened during the night. Most of us would have cried, "Quick, get me out of here!" Daniel testified that God had sent an angel to shut the lions' mouths (verse 22). How did he know that an angel had come to the den? He must have seen the angel. But he did not reveal who the angel was. His deliverer was probably the same being who protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the fiery furnace. Some readers imagine that the angel changed the lions from ferocious man-eaters into pussycats so tame and gentle that they allowed Daniel the liberty of stroking them and of pillowing his head upon a soft mane--that just as during the Millennium the kid will lie down with the leopard (Isaiah 11:6), so Daniel rested in the lap of a lion. Yet this picture of Daniel's experience is somewhat fanciful. Consider that the mane of one of these caged lions would have been disgustingly matted, soiled, and flea-infested. Scripture says only that the angel stopped the mouths of the lions so that they could not hurt Daniel (Daniel 6:22; Hebrews 11:33). In other words, he prevented them from fulfilling their instinctive desire to rip Daniel apart, but he did not take away their predatory nature. He merely made them powerless either to bite Daniel or to roar and disturb his sleep. The angel perhaps caused them to fall asleep also. After the king's servants had lifted Daniel out of the pit, everyone present learned just how effectively he had been protected, for he bore "no manner of hurt . . . upon him" (verse 23). Those who examined him could not find so much as a bruise or a scratch.

The King's Justice

verses 24­28

24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and

159

brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. 25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. 27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. 28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

The terrible fate of Daniel's accusers The men who had accused Daniel were cast along with their families into the den of lions (verse 24). We need not assume that his accusers included all the officials of the realm, or even all 120 princes. The text identifies his accusers as simply "these men" (verse 11), which refers to the men, earlier called "these presidents and princes" (verse 6), who formed the conspiracy against Daniel. Obviously, some of the princes were involved, but when the conspirators told the king that the decree had the support of "all" the officials in the kingdom (verse 7), they were lying. Daniel, the highest official, had not been consulted. Hence, it is likely that many of the other princes had been left in the dark also. Even among the supporters of the decree, perhaps some did not know the malicious intent behind it. Yet the explicit use of plural "presidents" (verses 4, 6) demonstrates that the conspirators included the two other men of presidential rank. These two hated Daniel probably because they felt cheated out of his job. The conspirators were guilty of two heinous crimes. (1) They had lied to the king, and (2) they had plotted against the king's friend (the next thing to plotting against the king himself). The sentence laid upon the conspirators conformed to divine standards of justice in one respect but not in another. By giving false accusers the punishment that they sought to bring on someone else, the sentence was just.

16 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; 17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; 18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; 19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. Deuteronomy 19:16­19

160

But by making whole families die for the crime of the father, the sentence was unjust.

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. Deuteronomy 24:16

The severe retribution ordered by Darius was nothing extraordinary. In ancient societies, the interests of the king greatly outweighed the personal rights of his subjects. From his station high above everyone else, he reckoned that all life but his own was cheap. So, if any subject incurred the death penalty, it seemed like good policy to execute all the victim's relatives also, lest anyone be left alive who bore a grudge against the king.23 Darius's new decree In recognition of Daniel's supernatural deliverance, Darius issued a decree enjoining his people to "tremble and fear" before Daniel's God (verses 25­27). The words beginning, "For he is the living God" (verse 26), echo a portion of Nebuchadnezzar's decree after he regained his sanity. "I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation" (Daniel 4:34). The similarity perhaps shows that the same hand drafted both decrees. Since Daniel was on both occasions the king's expert on Jewish affairs, it is likely that the author of both decrees was Daniel himself. Daniel's outstanding consistency In Daniel's life story as recorded in the first six chapters of the Book of Daniel, what is the first incident? While he was still a teenager, Daniel resolved to disobey a commandment of the king because it violated his conscience, and he cared not that the penalty might be death (chapter 1). What is the last incident? As a very old man, Daniel disobeyed a commandment of the king because it violated his conscience, and he cared not that the penalty prescribed by law was indeed death (chapter 6). In over sixty years he had not budged one inch from a stance of fearless loyalty to the law of God. Without question, Daniel is the greatest exemplar of consistency to be found anywhere in the history of God's people.

161

Typical Meaning of the Incident

In its prophetic significance, Daniel's deliverance from the lions' den resembles the deliverance of the three Hebrews from the fiery furnace. Both incidents show what will happen to elect Jews during the Tribulation. 1. Just as Daniel was cast into the lions' den because he failed to address his prayers to a man usurping the place of God, so elect Jews during the Tribulation will fall under persecution because they reject the Antichrist's pretense to be a god above all gods.

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2 Thessalonians 2:4

2. Like Daniel in the lions' den, these elect Jews will be delivered. Indeed, not one will lose his life.

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. Daniel 12:1

3. The ravening lions represent Satan and his demonic hosts. The same imagery appears in the New Testament.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

During the Tribulation, the forces of evil will strive mightily to devour elect Jews, but they will be kept impotent against them, just as the lions were prevented from touching Daniel. If even small details of the type give a true picture of the ultimate fulfillment, the lions surely did not behave like Daniel's pets. 4. The angel who delivered Daniel represents the angel who will defend and preserve elect Jews during the Tribulation. See Daniel 12:1, quoted above.

162

Notes

Chapter Six and Dubberstein, 14. C. Whitcomb, Darius the Mede: The Historical Chronology of Daniel, International Library of Philosophy and Theology: Biblical and Theological Studies Series, ed. J. Marcellus Kik (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1959), 10. 3Ibid., 10­11; Grayson, 109­111. 4Whitcomb, Darius, 11­16. 5Ibid., 23­25. 6Ibid., 25. 7Ibid., 29­40. 8Ibid., 5­42. The Greek historians thought that Ugbaru, the general who led Medo-Persian forces into Babylon, and Gubaru, later governor of the city, were one person, whom they named Gobryas. Before Whitcomb identified Darius the Mede as Gubaru, others, including Wilson and Albright, had identified him as Gobryas. See R. D. Wilson, 1:229­236; W. F. Albright, "The Date and Personality of the Chronicler," Journal of Biblical Literature 40 (1921): 112­113. 9Yamauchi, Persia, 86. 10Whitcomb, Darius, 11­16. 11Ibid., 16. 12Finegan, History, 179. 13Boutflower, 154; Albright, "Chronicler," 112­113. 14Whitcomb, Darius, 27­28. 15Ibid., 11; Grayson, 110. 16Hengstenberg, Dissertations, 103­109; E. Young, Commentary, 134. 17Montgomery, 270. 18Yamauchi, Persia, 447; Whitcomb, Daniel, 83­84. 19Yamauchi, Persia, 233; Ezra 6:11. 20Brown et al., 781­782. 21Daniel David Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, 2 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1926­1927; repr., New York: Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1968), 1:189. 22Keil, 216; Pusey, 354. 23Whitcomb, Daniel, 88.

2John 1Parker

163

Information

Microsoft Word - Chapter 6.docx

16 pages

Report File (DMCA)

Our content is added by our users. We aim to remove reported files within 1 working day. Please use this link to notify us:

Report this file as copyright or inappropriate

155273


Notice: fwrite(): send of 195 bytes failed with errno=104 Connection reset by peer in /home/readbag.com/web/sphinxapi.php on line 531