Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Third, at the conclusion, so that it is called the fourth, Jeremias xxv. 1. (Cornelius a Lapide; Menochius) — Nabuchodonosor began his expedition into Syria a year before he was king; (Salien, the year of the world 3428.; Josephus, &c.) or he had the title before his father Nabopolassar’s death. (Usher, the year of the world 3397.) — The following year he took Joakim, with a design to convey him to Babylon; but he left him on hard terms, and seized many of the sacred vessels, Daniel, &c. (Calmet) — Joakim reigned other eight years, 2 Paralipomenon xxxvi. 5. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. His god; Bel, or Belas, the principal idol of the Chaldeans. (Challoner) — The king pretended to derive his pedigree from Belus, (Abyd. Eus. pręp. 1.) and greatly enriched his temple, (Calmet) which Xerxes demolished. (Arrian.) — God. Some part might be kept in the palace, chap. v. 10., and 2 Paralipomenon xxxvi. 7.
Ver. 3. Eunuchs, or chief officers. The Jews assert that Daniel was made an eunuch, Isaias xxxix. 7. But he might be so styled on account of his dignity. (Calmet) — Princes. Literally, “tyrants.” (Haydock) — This name was afterwards only rendered odious by the misconduct of several kings. (Calmet) — Hebrew parthemim, (Haydock) seems to be of Greek derivation, alluding to protimoi, or protoi, “the first or most honoured.” (Drusius) — We find here other Greek words. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Blemish. Deformed people were excluded the throne, or the king’s presence. (Procop. 1.) — Science; well educated, or apt to learn. They were first to be taught the Chaldean letters, which then differed from the Hebrew. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Meat: more exquisite. (De Dieu.) — All was first served on the king’s table. (Athen. vi. 14.)
Ver. 6. Juda. It is thought all four were of royal blood. (Calmet) — Others were also kept at court. (Menochius)
Ver. 7. Baltassar, or as Chaldeans (Calmet) or Masorets (Haydock) pronounce, Beltesasar, “the treasurer of Baal.” The names were changed to testify their subjection, (Calmet) and that they might embrace the manners of the Chaldeans. (Menochius) — The new names alluded to the sun. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Daniel, as head and nearer the throne, gave good example to the rest. (Worthington) — Defiled, either by eating meat forbidden by the law, or which had before been offered to idols. (Challoner) — It was customary among the pagans to make an offering of some parts to their gods, or throw it into the fire. (Theod.; Calmet) — These reasons determined the pious youths, (Haydock) who desired also to keep free from gluttony and other vices. (Theod.; Worthington)
Ver. 11. Malassar, another inferior officer. It means also one appointed over the mouth or provisions, (Calmet) and might be Asphenez, ver. 3, 9. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Pulse. That is, pease, beans, and such like. (Challoner) — St. Basil hence shews the advantages of fasting; and Catholics, who imitate Daniel, may expect the like reward in heaven: and hope that such a pattern would not displease their dissenting brethren, but rather screen them from their profane sarcasms. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. Dreams. He was learned in all the sciences of the country, like Moses, Acts vii. 22. (Calmet) — They studied these things, in order to refute what was erroneous: discunt….ut judicent. (St. Jerome) — The Chaldeans paid great attention to dreams. Daniel acquired the knowledge of such as were sent from heaven by the gift of God, as Joseph had done. To pay any regard to common dreams would be childish (Calmet) and sinful, if the person depend on them for the knowledge of futurity. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. Diviners, or fortune-tellers. — Wise men. Septuagint, “philosophers.” (Calmet) — Hebrew Ashaphim, may come from the Greek sophoi. (Grotius) — They had been educated three years, ver. 5. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Cyrus; and also to the third, (Chap. x) and of course during the whole of the captivity. (Worthington) — He was maintained in power by the conqueror of Babylon, chap. vi. 18., and xiv. 1. He first displayed his sagacity in the cause of Susanna, (Chap. xiii.; Calmet) whose history was placed at the head of the book, in Theodotion, (St. Jerome in Isaias iii. 1.) as in its natural order. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Daniel and his companions are taken into the palace of the king of Babylon: they abstain from his meat and wine, and succeed better with pulse and water. Their excellence in wisdom.
1 In the third year *of the reign of Joakim, king of Juda, Nabuchodonosor, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2 And the Lord delivered into his hands Joakim, the king of Juda, and part of the vessels of the house *of God: and he carried them away into the land of Sennaar, to the house of his god, and the vessels he brought into the treasure-house of his god.
3 And the king spoke to Asphenez, the master of the eunuchs, that he should bring in some of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes,
4 Children in whom there was no blemish, well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, acute in knowledge, and instructed in science, and such as might stand in the king’s palace, that he might teach them the learning, and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision, of his own meat, and of the wine of which he drank himself, that being nourished three years, afterwards they might stand before the king.
6 Now there were among them of the children of Juda, Daniel, Ananias, Misael, and Azarias.
7 And the master of the eunuchs gave them names: to Daniel, Baltassar: to Ananias, Sidrach: to Misael, Misach: and to Azarias, Abdenago.
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not be defiled with the king’s table, nor with the wine which he drank: and he requested the master of the eunuchs that he might not be defiled.
9 And God gave to Daniel grace and mercy in the sight of the prince of the eunuchs.
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said to Daniel: I fear my lord, the king, who hath appointed you meat and drink: who if he should see your faces leaner than those of the other youths, your equals, you shall endanger my head to the king.
11 And Daniel said to Malasar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had appointed over Daniel, Ananias, Misael, and Azarias:
12 Try, I beseech thee, thy servants for ten days, and let pulse be given us to eat, and water to drink:
13 And look upon our faces, and the faces of the children that eat of the king’s meat: and as thou shalt see, deal with thy servants.
14 And when he had heard these words, he tried them for ten days.
15 And after ten days, their faces appeared fairer and fatter than all the children that ate of the king’s meat.
16 So Malasar took their portions, and the wine that they should drink: and he gave them pulse.
17 And to these children God gave knowledge, and understanding in every book, and wisdom: but to Daniel the understanding also of all visions and dreams.
18 And when the days were ended, after which the king had ordered they should be brought in: *the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nabuchodonosor.
19 And when the king had spoken to them, there were not found among them all such as Daniel, Ananias, Misael, and Azarias: and they stood in the king’s presence.
20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the diviners, and wise men, that were in all his kingdom.
21 *And Daniel continued even to the first year of king Cyrus.
1: Year of the World 3398, Year before Christ 606.
2: Jeremias xxv. 1.
18: Year of the World 3401.
21: Daniel vi. 28.