« PrécédentContinuer »
Abraham, and the mercies promised to his ancient people, with reference to whose saered abode he had said, “ This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it,” (Ps. cxxxii. 14.)—their apprehensions of divine faithfulness may be allayed by remarking the emphatic character of the declaration, "The Lord gave Jehoiakim into his (Nebuchadnezzar's) hand.” This providence was punitive, and intended to bring the nation to a proper sense of their transgressions. This is expressly intimated in several passages, 2 Kings xxiv. 2, 3; “ And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servants the prophets.—3. Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did.”. Jeremiah xxv. 8, 11; “ Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; because ye have not heard my words,-11. This whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years." Chap. xxvii. 6; “ And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him."
Nebuchadnezzar is said to have carried a portion of the sacred vessels into the land of Shinar, into the house of his god. This was the original name of the country where Babylon stood, and where the tower of Babel was built. In the same place, or very near it, was an idol's temple, where the captured vessels were deposited in honor of the imaginary deity, to whom the king imputed his victory over the Jews. This treasure house was probably the edifice to which Herodotus refers, where a large golden statue of Jupiter was erected. There were also others of Juno and Rhea.. Historians compute the riches of this temple at upwards of twenty millions sterling.
Far be it from us, under the spiritual dispensation of the gospel, to urge the decoration of places of worship in pompous imitation of heathen splendor, or of Jewish magnificence; yet, may not Christians take a lesson of humiliation from contrasting the punctilious solicitude of idolators respecting their temples, and the costly sacrifices so readily and extensively made by the superstitious in religion, with their frequent parsimony and reluctance in maintaining the worship of the true God? It comports not, indeed, with the simplicity of the gospel, to rear ornate and splendid edifices for the celebration of its observances; nor, on the other hand, does it accord with the liberality of its spirit, for the professed
disciples of Christ, to allow his cause to be encumbered with debt, and ground down by legalized oppressions. Verse 3.-And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master
of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the chil
dren of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes. 4.-Children in whom was no blemish, but well-favored,
and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach
the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. 5.–And the king appointed them a daily provision of the
king's meat, and of the wine which he drank : so nour. ishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
The object of this careful selection of distinguished individuals, was doubtless to enhance the king's glory in the eyes of the courtiers, and of the empire; and it was calculated to produce this effect, because the more honorable his attendants, the more exalted would he himself appear. The oriental monarchs have always been remarkable for this display, that they might as much as possible impose upon the ignorant multitude, whether they kept a splendid court at home, or travelled with a magnificent retinue abroad.
How naturally may our thoughts be directed to the King of Zion," who, apart from every motive of human ambition, and influenced solely by a benevolent aim to impart happiness to the miserable, and salvation to the
lost, chose his followers and associates from among the poor, illiterate, and despised. It was neither his purpose to invest himself with external grandeur, nor raise his followers to posts of earthly dignity; but by placing them in the domain of his own voluntary poverty, to shew that the only legitimate objects of ambition were virtue and religion.
That the Chaldeans, who were celebrated for their seience, should have forced it into subserviency to the absurdities of astrology and magic, is deeply to be lamented; but we
; may conclude, that Daniel and his companions kept themselves free from these delusions. Probably there was no attempt to coerce these youthful captives, by the employment of a despotic authority, which, it is evident, even at this early age of their history, they possessed the courage to resist. Education is important, but we must never lose sight of its genuine design. Let young persons determine to consecrate as well as to acquire knowledge; and let their instructors be at least as solicitous of imparting moral and spiritual wisdom, as of cultivating the intellectual faculties. Verse 6.—Now among these were of the children of Judah,
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; 7.- Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names : for
he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach ; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego,
The object of this change of names, in connexion with their instruction in Chaldean literature, was to induce them to forget their own religion and country, and slide easily into idolatrous observances. It has been observed, that as all their former names related to the true God, so all their newly imposed names had some reference to Babylonish idols.
Daniel signifies in Hebrew God is my judge; Belteshazzar, in Chaldee, means the treasure of Baal ; Hananiah, in Hebrew, is well pleasing to God; Shadrach, in Chaldee, is the inspiraa tion of the Sun ; Mishael, in Hebrew, is proceeding from God; Meshach, in Chaldee, belonging to the goddess Sheshach; Azariah, in Hebrew, God is my help; Abed-nego, in Chaldee, the servant of Nego, that is, the sun or morning star, both of them esteemed as deities by the Babylonians. Verse 8.-But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would
not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank : therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile him.
self. 9.-Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender
love with the prince of the eunuchs. 10.-And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear
my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink : for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort ? then shall
ye make ME endanger my head to the king. 11.--Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the
eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,