DAIEL THE PROPHET.

BY FRACIS TRECH
DAIEL was a member of the royal family
of Judah, and was carried captive to Babylon,
while yet a youth, in the year 606. With several
others of a similar rank, of whom three are men
tioned by name, viz. Hananiah, Mishael, and
Azariah, he was chosen for a special training
and education, in order to prepare them for the
service of the king of Babylon. This training
was in part bodily in part mental ; and it was
intended to bring up these young men with all
those advantages, which the sovereign s will and
expenditure could effect.
The history soon centres on Daniel and the three
named above, who, in all probability, were not
only his relatives, but also the friends and com
panions of his youth.
A part of this system for training and educa
tion at the Babylonish court was that of supply
ing food, rich, nourishing, and delicate, called
" the king s meat," dressed and prepared by the
king s servants. Daniel, being enlightened by the
Spirit and the Word, and seeking to keep his
" conscience void of offence towards God," soon
perceived the sin, to him as a Jew, in partaking
DAIEL THE PROPHET. 395
of this meat. For this there were two prominent
reasons. First, the Gentiles, in their cookery,
used promiscuously all sorts of food, much of
which to the Israelites was, by the law, " com
mon and unclean." And again, the Gentiles, at
their meals, used to dedicate a small portion of
the meat and wine (sanctifying, as they thought,
the whole) to their gods, either on an altar, if
attainable, or by casting it into the fire, if fire
was at hand, or in some other way. Daniel, even
in his early career, won the love and favour of
those around him. He was therefore enabled to
persuade the guardian of the royal youths that
he would allow him and his three companions
the simplest and the poorest, but (in a religious
sense) unadulterated fare. But this proved to them,
through God s blessing, most nutritious and effec
tive for all the purposes of vigour and of comeli
ness 3 ; and thus they lived, as, no doubt, in all other
things also, holily and purely and unblamably
before their God: and "God gave them knowledge
and skill in all learning and wisdom," and they
were "ten times wiser than all the Chaldsean
magicians and astrologers :" and of Daniel it is
specially written that he " had understanding in
all visions and dreams."
Our history must now and henceforth be con-
a The Assyrians and Persians paid the greatest attention to
beauty of form. Procopius, in his Persian War, states that,
among the latter people, it was enacted that even the king s sons
should be disqualified from reigning if they had any deformity of
bodv.
396 DAIEL THE PROPHET.
centrated on Daniel alone, except where his
conduct and prosperity bear on that of his three
companions.
As in Joseph s case, so in Daniel s, God ad
vanced him through means of a dream, sent to
the ruler of the land where he sojourned. About
four years after Daniel s arrival in Babylon, e
buchadnezzar "dreamed dreams," but could not
interpret, nor even tell his dream. In one of
those fits of despotic madness, folly, and wicked
ness, frequently found in the history of these
ancient Eastern autocrats e.g., in the lashing
of the Hellespont by Xerxes, and the order to
destroy all the Jews in the province of Babylon
by Ahasuerus b the king ordered the destruction
of all the astrologers and "wise men" in the
country, because they could not tell him what
his dream was c . Daniel, who was in peril with
the rest, asked for time to give the interpretation
of the dream ; and having obtained the boon,
made the thing known to his companions, that
they would pray with him and for him, and
" desire mercies of the GOD of heaven concerning
the secret." He then received a revelation from
GOD on the matter ; and having blessed and
praised Him for it, he went in to the king, declared
and confessed the true GOD before him, told him
b A remarkable instance of public attention to a dream at
Rome is briefly noticed by Cicero. De Div. L. I. . 2. " Quin-
etiam memoria nostra templum Junonis Sospitae L. Julius, qui
cum P. Rutilio consul fuit, dc send t us sentcntid reh cit ex Caecilia;
Balearic! filite somnio."
r See the Book of Esther throughout.
DAIEL THE PROPHET. 397
what his dream had been, interpreted it, and
constrained the king to " honour the GOD of gods
and the Lord of kings" in all humiliation before
him. We hear, too, how ebuchadnezzar com
manded that divine honours should be paid to
Daniel, though he, no doubt, refused them, like
Paul and Barnabas in later times d . However, he
was at once raised to the highest civil dignities,
and was honoured with great gifts ; and was
made " ruler over the whole province of Babylon,
and chief of the governors over all the wise men
of Babylon ;" and, by his request, his three asso
ciates were advanced to high dignity too and
the honour which GOD now put upon him in his
youth never departed from him till the end of
his days.
In his third chapter, Daniel records the mighty
deliverance of his three friends from the "burning
fiery furnace," but he himself appears not in the
narrative. The fourth again presents him.
A period of about twenty-two years passed by,
and again Daniel was employed by GOD as the
prophet and interpreter of his coming j udgments.
According to the record written by the hand, or,
at all events, in the person of ebuchadnezzar
himself, all the magicians failing to explain an
other royal vision, Daniel came in again and ex
pounded it. This was the celebrated dream of
the Tree, signifying ebuchadnezzar himself;
which in one year, that which Daniel foretold,
marvellous as it was, proved true in every respect;
d Acts xiv. 14.
398 DAIEL THE PROPHET.
for, as Daniel had announced, when the day of
the fulness of the king s pride came, he was
driven, a deranged man, from his palace, and
" did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet
with the dew of heaven, until he should know
that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of
men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."
Daniel, too, witnessed the royal recovery and
restoration to his throne seven years afterwards,
as he had also, through God s revelation, foretold.
o attempt will be made here to enter into,
and still less to solve, the various and contra
dictory opinions regarding the succession in the
Babylonish monarchy, which brought Belshazzar
to the throne. For this is not needful to illus
trate Daniel s life. And here we must not exactly
follow the chapters of the Book of Daniel for his
own history, as to the date of transactions where
he appears. We must pass over (although to
return to it) the record of Belshazzar s feast, with
other subsequent events; and, looking to the
seventh chapter, note the vision of the Ten King
doms, revealed to Daniel in the first year of
Belshazzar s reign ; and again in the eighth
chapter we shall find, from the second verse
compared with the last verse, that, previous to
Belshazzar s feast, or " in the third year of his
reign," Daniel was officially engaged in adminis
tering public affairs at " Shushan, in the palace,
in the province of Elam." And there he beheld
the vision of the Ram, and the He-goat, " by the
river of Ulai." And there he "heard a man s
DAIEL THE PROPHET. 399
voice between the banks of Ulai, which called
and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand
the vision." And dark events were told him.
And mighty and mysterious, though full of
honour to him, were GOD S dealings with him.
And for a season he had no spirit in him : but
after a time he revived, and rose up and " did the
king s business." The locality of Daniel at this
time must not be forgotten, for it helps to explain
a matter of some difficulty, which will soon ap
pear, as we pursue his history.
The need of a revelation from heaven, to ex
plain a sign or portent among men, again brings
Daniel to renown and through him, brings glory
to Daniel s GOD. Belshazzar and his lords were
at their gorgeous feast ; and in the midst thereof,
Belshazzar the king madly and profanely issued
his command " to bring the golden and the silver
vessels, which his father ebuchadnezzar had
taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem ;
that the king and his princes, his wives and his
concubines, might drink therein." And they did
so ; " and praised the gods of gold and of silver,
of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone." In that
same hour the hand wrote on the wall. Judg
ment was now come. Terror was in all faces,
dismay in all hearts. But none could understand
the mysterious characters. The king cried aloud
for his astrologers. They were helpless as babes.
They could not read it. Alarm and astonish
ment increased on every side. But at this junc
ture the queen mother (as we may call her, or, at
400 DAIEL THE PROPHET.
all events, the relict of a former king) heard of
the terrifying scene at the banquet-house. She
went in and spake of Daniel : " Let Daniel be
called, and lie will shew the interpretation." The
king seems not to have known him, though to
have heard of him ; and of this the explanation
may be, that, though in early days, Daniel had
been set " over the affairs of the province of
Babylon f ," (which must, one would think, have
brought him into contact with the king,) yet we
know from a passage already quoted, that in the
time of Belshazzar s reign Daniel was engaged in
business at " Shushan, in the province of Elam."
Or it may be that the monarch had little to do
with his civil servants, satraps, or governors, and
gave himself up to pleasure and to luxury. But
this matter need not delay us. Daniel, we know,
was in Babylon at the time. The king at once
sent for him, and offered him all rich rewards, if
he would interpret the writing on the wall.
Daniel began his address by telling that such
gifts would not open his lips: but yet that he
would give the interpretation. Daniel had told of
ebuchadnezzar s fall through his pride. Daniel
now told that the hour of Belshazzar s fall, through
the same sin, was now come. Daniel proclaimed
to him and to his thousand lords, and to all the
assembled Babylonish multitude, the one true
GOD, in whose hand is the breath of every living
thing, and whom all should glorify. Daniel told
f Daniel ii. 49.
DAIEL THE PROPHET. 401
how the kingdom was numbered, and also finish
ed how its king was weighed, and was found
wanting how his sovereignty was divided, and
given to the Medes and Persians. All this the
writing, when explained by the Spirit, spake.
That very night Daniel was invested with fresh
honours and fresh dignities. " And in that night
was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
And Darius s the Median took the kingdom, being
about threescore and two years old." But GOD
preserved Daniel, and not only preserved him,
but maintained him in all his honours under the
new conquering dynasty, and, under Darius, soon
added more.
In ordering his new kingdom, Darius set over
it an hundred and twenty princes, and over them
three presidents, of whom Daniel was the first.
The device of his fellow-rulers to effect Daniel s
ruin, and their testimony to his integrity in re
gard to man, and to his piety in regard to his
GOD, are so well known that detail is not requisite
here. Another mad and profane decree, by their
persuasion, went forth. The den of lions was
threatened as the penalty for disobedience. Da
niel did fearlessly disobey it, knowing that obedi
ence to his GOD preceded obedience even to his
king, and unscared by the terrific death, from
which there could be no human means of escape.
According to the rule of the Babylonish court,
* This Darius, otherwise Cyaxares, son of Astyages, was the
uncle of Cyrus. Cyrus personally achieved the conquest, but in
his uncle s name.
Dd
402 DAIEL THE PROPHET.
the king himself could by no means deliver him.
He was thrown into the den of lions : but GOD
shut the lions mouths, that they hurt him
not. And his enemies were thrown to them in
his stead, and met the righteous retribution for
their deeds against the servant of GOD. And once
more a decree went forth " to all people, nations,
and languages," honouring the GOD of heaven and
of earth, even the " living GOD, and stedfast for
ever, whose kingdom should not be destroyed,
and whose dominion should be unto the end."
(ch. vi. 26.) And " Daniel prospered in the reign
of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian."
In the first year of this Darius, we find Daniel
engaged in the study of GOD S prophetical word,
as written in Jeremiah concerning the seventy
years of the desolations of Jerusalem 11 . We hear
of his fervent devotion, his prayers, his supplica
tions, his fasting, sackcloth and ashes. And
while he was thus engaged, Gabriel visited him
by the commandment of GOD, and made known
to him the prophecy of the seventy weeks, and
how the " Messiah should be cut off, but not for
himself," and how his nation should be visited
with judgment. GOD revealed to him all this,
and employed him to write these marvellous an-
nunciations.
On Daniel s other visions it is not needful to
speak. or have we many details of his history,
subsequent to those events in his life already told
in these pages. Ere his days ended, for he (like
h Dan. ix. 2.
DAIEL THE PROPHET. 403
St. John the Evangelist, to whom in many things
he bore a similitude) lived to an advanced age,
Cyrus had restored the Jews, but Daniel had re
mained in Assyria, fulfilling those high offices to
which GOD, in His providence, had brought him.
The promise, which ends his book, was fulfilled
to him in this present world, typically telling its
better and higher fulfilment in the world to come :
" Go thou thy way till the end be ; for thou shalt
rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."
Again, as with St. John, we know not the exact
date nor circumstances of his death, nor the
precise extent of his far-prolonged life. Even
during that life, his renown for all goodly graces
and gifts was exceeding great. His reputation
for wisdom and holiness and all kind of moral
and religious worth had reached such a height,
that Ezekiel, his cotemporary, speaking as taught
by the Holy Spirit, twice introduces him by name
in his prophecies. One place proves that " wiser
than Daniel" was a received saying, even then
proverbially used 1 . In the other, GOD himself, as
the speaker, ranks him with oah and with Job,
and proclaims him as one whose intercession, if
any, would have prevailed for the sinful land
now under righteous condemnation 11 . So far
as Scripture presents him, he is a faultless man.
o sin is recorded as committed by him no
failure in his work no rebuke from his GOD for
any thing. Good was his report, both among the
Gentiles and among his own people. Living and
1 Ezek. xxviii. 3. k Ch. xiv. 14.
Q 5 2 \W^ DAIEL THE PROPHET.
administering public business of state in the
mightiest kingdom of his day, he was not only
versed and skilled in the affairs of that single
empire or that single period, but by dreams,
visions, prophecies, and all sorts of divine com
munications, he saw future dynasties rise up and
fall again, and told of matters, even at our own day,
in progress of their consummation. Early in life
his holiness began, and his conscientiousness
also his faith in God also his spirit of prayer
also his boldness in confessing his GOD. Such
was his character all the remainder of his days.
The favour of kings marred not his humility.
The cares of high civil and responsible rule
choked not and checked not the spiritual work
of GOD within his soul. Idolatry around him
withdrew not his heart from the one true GOD,
whom he knew, whom he loved, and whom he
served. The word of that GOD was his study,
research, and delight; and he applied it practi
cally as each need arose. or can we wonder
that the same GOD Almighty, who thus endowed
him, has given him the title of " a man greatly
beloved," and has presented him to us as a noble
example of that which the Holy Spirit can effect
in the heart and life of a true saint of GOD. May
we learn and profit by it !
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