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CHAPTER I. DANIEL IN BABYLON

  1. in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Jerusalem, and
  2. besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God; and he carried them into the land of Shinar to the house of his god: and he brought the vessels into the treasure house
  3. of his god. And the king spoke to Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring in certain of the children
  4. of Israel, even of the seed royal and of the nobles; youths in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability to stand in the king's palace; and that he should teach them the learning and the tongue
  5. of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a daily portion of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank, and that they should be nourished three years; that at the
  6. end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were, of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah,
  7. Mishael, and Azariah. And the prince of the eunuchs gave names to them; to Daniel he gave the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of
  8. Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not
  9. defile himself. Now God made Daniel to find favour and
  10. compassion in the sight of the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said to Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the youths
  11. which are of your own age? so should you endanger my head with the king. Then said Daniel to the steward, whom the prince of the eunuchs had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah,
  12. Mishael, and Azariah: Prove your servants, I beseech you, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to
  13. drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before you, and the countenance of the youths that eat of the
  14. king's meat; and as you see, deal with your servants. So he hearkened to them in this matter, and proved them
  15. ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer, and they were fatter in flesh, than all the
  16. youths which did eat of the king's meat. So the steward took away their meat, and the wine that they should drink,
  17. and gave them pulse. Now as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams,
  18. And at the end of the days which the king had appointed for bringing them in, the prince of the eunuchs brought
  19. them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah : therefore stood they before
  20. the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding, concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and
  21. enchanters that were in all his realm. And Daniel continued even to the first year of King Cyrus.

 

REFERENCES

Verses Numbers
1,2 P. P.
2 AC 1183
3-21 P. P.
19, 20 AC 5223; AE 675
20 AR 101

COMMENTARY: DANIEL IN BABYLON

the carrying away of the Jews into Babylon, by Nebuchadnezzar, in the reign of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, is an historical fact. There seems to be some doubt, however, as to the precise date of the event. The opening verse of chapter one of this book is in these words:

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim King of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon to Jerusalem, and besieged it.

In the prophecy of jeremiah, 36:1, we read:

And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, King of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord.

Then follows the prophecy which was read before the king and so angered him that he burnt up the roll on which it was written, piecemeal, in the fire by which he was warming himself in his winter palace.

Dr. William Smith, remarking on the apparent difficulty in the dates, says:

The simplest explanation is, that the advance of Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon began in the third year of Jehoiakim, but that Jerusalem was not taken until the fourth.

We would emphasize the doctrine of the New Church familiar to our readers, that the Word of the Lord, as given in history and prophecy, was written solely for the sake of its spiritual meaning. We need not be troubled, therefore, concerning any apparent difficulties in its literal statements. The "third year" denotes a state of fullness; here it denotes a state in which evil had come to the full, when there was a complete vastation of the church. Its worship became profane and idolatrous, and it fell under the dominion of the love of ruling from the love of self.

It may be well, however, to refer to some of the historical facts connected with the story of the captivity, as they now seem to have been established. Jehoiakim, whose original name was Eliakim, was set up to be King of Judah, by Necho, King of Egypt.

After the battle of Carchemish, near the Euphrates, when the Egyptians were defeated by the Babylonians, Jerusalem was besieged and captured by Nebuchadnezzar. He first took Jehoiakim prisoner, but afterwards suffered him to remain in Jerusalem as a vassal king, tributary to the Babylonian power. After three years, Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem was then again attacked, not by Nebuchadnezzar in person, but by numerous bands of Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites, who were then subject to the King of Babylon. Jehoiakim was killed, his body was cast out, and afterwards buried in an ignominious manner beyond the gates of Jerusalem, as prophesied by Jeremiah.

Sometime afterwards Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim, sometimes called Jechoniah, reigned for three months. But there was again a rebellious spirit manifested, and Jehoiachin was taken prisoner, carried into Babylon, and held there in close captivity for thirty-six years. A large number of captives among them Daniel and his royal companions were carried away at the first capture of Jerusalem, and another portion, said to number ten thousand, were taken into captivity with Jehoiachin. (2 kings 24:14.)

The fact is now established that Nebuchadnezzar was coregent with his father Nabopolasser, in the latter part of his father's reign and that he was called king by anticipation. At the time of the battle of Carchemish and the first siege of Jerusalem, he was not sole and absolute King of Babylon. The time of Daniel's probation, according to chapter one, verse five, was three years, but it was in the second year of the king's actual reign that he was brought before him to interpret his dream.

These things will not be regarded, however, as of primary importance if we believe that the literal narrative is simply a vehicle for communicating the spiritual meaning, which relates not to the rise and fall of kingdoms, but to the state of the church and of the human mind in which the church is established.

The spiritual sense of the Word is threefold. In its highest or inmost sense it treats of the Lord and the glorification of His humanity, in the next lower sense it reveals the laws and processes of man's regeneration, and in its lowest sense called the historical-spiritual sense it treats of the different states of the church. The prophecy of Daniel relates more particularly to the consummation of the church and the coming of the Lord to judgement.

Jehoiakim, it is plain from Jeremiah, was a profane and idolatrous king. He represents, therefore, the evil love of dominion in the church, which leads to profanation. What then is represented by Nebuchadnezzar? Both were kings, and both sought dominion. The kingdom of Judah was a theocracy. The civil power and the ecclesiastical power were united, and Jehovah alone was the head of the church. Nevertheless, there was a priesthood and a sovereignty. When these became perverted the whole church was perverted.

The nations and peoples outside of Canaan represented the natural or external principles of human life and the natural degree of the mind. When this plane of the mind is altogether separated from what is spiritual, the natural love of dominion seeks preeminence. This is destructive of the church and of all genuine religion. Nebuchadnezzar represents this natural evil love which seeks to make all things subservient to it.

In AC 10227, we read:

By Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babel, is meant the profane that vastates, which is the case when the truths and goods of the church serve for means to favor the evils of the love of self and of the world, by wrong application, for in such case the evils of those loves are inwardly in the heart, and the holy things of the church are in the mouth.

When the love of self takes the place of love to the Lord within the church, then the church falls a prey to the natural love of dominion, exercised on the natural plane of life, and all things are made subservient to it. Nebuchadnezzar was a waster and destroyer. It was predicted by Jeremiah that all who remained in Jerusalem would be destroyed by him. (Chap. xxxi.)

Now by the King of Babylon coming against Jerusalem, is meant that the church comes under the dominion of this natural evil love, and those within the church who have profaned holy things will lose all spiritual freedom. This is the spiritual meaning of Jeremiah's prediction.

But the church may continue to exist, externally, with all its outward forms of worship, after it has lost its spirituality and has come under the evil love of dominion. The captivity in Babylon is the bondage of the man of the church to this natural evil love of dominion, which usurps the place of love to the Lord. The individual who exercises it claims the worship which belongs to the Lord alone. The profanation of holy things is represented by the carrying away of the sacred vessels out of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, and their being used at Belshazzar's feast by the revellers.

In order to have a general idea of the spiritual meaning of this book called Daniel, we must think, in the first place, of the state of the Jewish Church as depicted by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The Jewish Church had already profaned and adulterated holy things. The first conquest of the kingdom of Israel, and the captivity of its people by the Assyrians, denotes the perversion of the intellectual principle of the mind and its subjection to false reasonings, while the conquest of the kingdom of Judah, and the captivity of its people in Babylon, denotes the subjection of the will principle to the infernal love of dominion.

The Jewish Church, at the period of the second captivity, was vastated. If it had not been Nebuchadnezzar could not so easily have led the men of Judah into captivity, after destroying so many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. But while the church in its external form may be destroyed, when men cease to love and obey its holy truths, yet these truths themselves can never be wholly extinguished. Even after the church has fallen under the dominion of the love of self, some truths remain in the minds of a few. There is a "small remnant" by which the human race can be saved from utter extinction.

Daniel and the other children of the King's seed, "well-favored and in whom there was no blemish," represent the truths of the church which remain, and serve as new seed from which faith in the Lord may be born anew.

The gift of prophecy was not entirely lost even after the Jewish Church became corrupt. The prophets condemned the evils around them Isaiah and Jeremiah in Jerusalem, and Ezekiel and Daniel in Babylon and they suffered much, thus representing how the holy truths of the church and the Lord Himself suffered at the hands of evil men.

Daniel and his companions represent those who are in states of innocence, with whom the truth is preserved in dark and evil states of the church and amid much persecution. They would not eat of the king's meat in Babylon, some of which, doubtless, was offered to idols.

Nebuchadnezzar's command to his eunuch, or chamberlain, to bring these children of Judah into his palace that they might be taught the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans, denotes the will and purpose of those who are in the love of dominion from the love of self to make the truths of the church and all its holy principles subservient to their own selfish ends.

In the historical-spiritual sense, the. particulars related in this chapter have reference to the state of the Jewish Church at its end, especially at the time of the Lord's coming, when its consummation was complete. They also refer to the state of the Christian Church at its end, especially when the Church of Rome attempted to bring the whole world under its dominion. The Roman Catholic religion is denoted by Babylon, but wherever the infernal love of dominion prevails there is Babylon. At the end of every church the natural selfish love of ruling over others prevails. Its object is worldly gain or power. The devil offered the Lord all the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them, if He would fall down and worship him, but the Lord answered him: "You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve."

The Roman Church has distinguished itself by efforts to obtain civil power for the sake of maintaining its own supremacy. But this end can no longer be secured, since "Babylon has fallen." Since the Last Judgement this power has been fully overcome in the spiritual world, so that neither the Roman Church, nor any other, can now on obtain power over the souls of men, or deprive them of spiritual freedom. The church will not rule over the State, nor will the State rule over the church, but each will perform its own use in the world and fill its own proper sphere.

As to Daniel he not only represents the truth remaining at the end of the Church, but, in the highest sense, he represents the Lord Himself as Divine Truth coming to judge the state of the church.

His conduct in refusing the king's meat and feeding on pulse, beautifully shows forth the nature of spiritual abstinence from natural evil delights which would destroy- all remains of good in the soul.

The Lord, while He was tempted as to all the evils to which humanity was subject, resisted and overcame all these evils of every degree, and thus accomplished the work of redemption from the evil power.

He fulfilled the law of the Nazarite, not naturally for He "came eating and drinking" but spiritually, that is in a perfectly pure and holy life. He was a Nazarite, indeed, "purer than snow and whiter than milk."

In all matters of wisdom and understanding Daniel. and his three companions were found to be ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in the kingdom.

This was when they were brought before the king at the end of their probation. When the Lord stood in the temple before the doctors, He was found to possess wisdom much greater than theirs. Wherever the Divine Truth begins to gain a permanent influence in the human mind, it will be found to be higher than all the reasonings of the natural man. Daniel raised to power in Babylon represents the supremacy of Divine truth, and his three companions represent all inferior and subordinate truths of different degrees.

As Nebuchadnezzar became acquainted with Daniel, and learned what wisdom he possessed, he decided to make use of it to increase his own power. He found that it gave him more power than all the knowledge of the magicians and astrologers. Truths of a spiritual nature give greater power for evil as well as for good, but they are finally taken away from those who do not make good use of them.

In the last verse of this chapter it is written: "And Daniel continued even to the first year of King Cyrus"; and in the twenty-eighth verse of the sixth chapter, we find these words: "So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus, the Persian." It was Cyrus, King of Persia, the real conqueror of Babylon, who assisted the Jewish people to return to their own land, and to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem, restoring to them the vessels of gold and silver that had not been destroyed.

We are told in AC 8989 that "Cyrus represents the Lord as to the Humanity."

The life of Daniel in Babylon, with the other captive Jews, represents the state of the church at its consummation, when the truth is held in subjection to the power of evil and remains only with a few; but the beginning of the reign of Cyrus denotes the coming of the. Lord, first to restore natural freedom and then to establish a New Church in which the truth will be all powerful to overcome the dominion of evil, and whose members will acknowledge the Lord in His Divine Humanity and worship Him alone.

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