DANIEL - Chapter 6 Commentary

There is another jump of time between chapters 5 and 6 as there was in the gap between chapters 4 and 5. There may be a gap to Darius that is the successor of Cambyses II or could be part of the Darius confusion discussed at the end of the comments for chapter 5.

The office of Satrap was an important position at one time in the history. The Babylonian empire and later the Persian Empire were two empires who historically use it. The following is a definition and small description with emphasis on the Persian Empire. Although we have already mentioned the satrap, when Nebuchadnezzar was calling the highest officials to dedicate the image, it is brought up again in the sixth chapter.

Satrap(y) (sa'trap ee) A political office in the Persian Empire comparable to governor. A satrap's territory was called a satrapy. KJV translated the office, "lieutenants" (Ezra 8:36). These officials aided the people of Israel in rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple. At the height of the Persian rule, there were at least twenty satrapies.

Satrap and Satrapy comments from Holman Bible Dictionary.

The Persian Empire is important to history. It had major effects on religion, law, politics, and economics. The effects were seen through the Jews, the Bible, contacts with the Greeks, and through Alexander the Great's incorporation of ideas and architecture from the Persians.

Politically, the Persian Empire was one of the best organized the world had ever seen. By the time of Darius I, 522-486 B.C., the empire was divided into twenty satrapies (political units of varying size and population). Satrapies were subdivided into provinces. Initially, Judah was a province in the satrapy of Babylon. Persians who were directly responsible to the emperor governed the satrapies. Good administration required good communications that called for good roads. These roads did more than speed administration, though. They encouraged contacts between peoples within the empire. Ideas and goods could move hundreds of miles with little restriction. The empire became wealthy and also gave its inhabitants a sense that they were part of a larger world. A kind of "universal awareness" developed. The use of minted coins and the development of a money economy aided this identification with a larger world. The emperor's coins were handy reminders of the power and privileges of being part of the empire. Also, the Persians were committed to rule by law. Instead of imposing an imperial law from above, however, the emperor and his satraps gave their authority and support to local law. For the Jews this meant official support for keeping Jewish law in the land of the Jews. It is interesting that the empire was very similar to the Romans. Perhaps the Romans used the Persian empire as a model. The roads designed and used by the Romans were very similar in use. The Roman roads were protected by the Pax Romana the "Peace of Rome". One could travel in relative safety because the roads were patrolled by Roman soldiers. The kings of Babylonia and the emperors Rome demanded allegiance and were, in general, wanted to be considered diety. The minting of coins, etc. were all very similar.

Chapter 6 covers the following areas:
  1. The general organization of the government after the conquest of Babylon.
  2. Daniel was brought into disgrace with the king by the jealousy and dissatisfaction or envy of the officers so appointed.
  3. By knowing Daniel and his religious character, a plan was formed. They knew that, at any hazard, he would remain firm to his religious principles, and would conscientiously maintain the worship of God.
  4. The plan was was to induce the king to sign a decree that if anyone for thirty days should ask any petition for anything of God or man, he should be thrown into a den of lions. This proposed decree they assumed they could induce the king to sign.
  5. Daniel, when he was apprised of the contents of the decree continued his devotions as usual with his ritual of praying three times a day, with his face toward Jerusalem, with his windows open.
  6. The officers demanded the execution of the decree.
  7. The king, mad at himself and these crafty counselors, desired to spare Daniel. Yet he had to maintain the law he himself had signed.
  8. In the morning with deep anxiety he went to the place where Daniel had been thrown to see if he were alive.
  9. Daniel had been preserved by the intervention of an angel, who had closed the mouths of the lions.
  10. Daniel was released; those who accused Daniel were cast into the den.
  11. An proclamation was given from the king to all men to honor that God who had thus preserved his servant.
  12. There was a statement of the prosperity of Daniel, extending to the reign of Cyrus.
Darius was happy with himself when he set up the administration of his government. He set up 120 satrapies. The number of satrapies change later. One question is who is this Darius? Some scholars have questioned the Darius as existing because there has been very little history of him. There are three Medo-Persian kings in the OT with the name of Darius. One followed the decree that was set up by Cyrus that grated the Jews their freedom to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem. He was commonly known as Darius Hystaspis who took over in 521 BC and ruled for 36 years. (Ezra 4:5; 6:1,12,15; Hag. 1:1;2:10; Zech. 1:7).

A second Darius was "Darius the Persian". (Neh. 12:22) This was either Darius Nothus or Darius Codomanus.

The third one is mentioned in Daniel only as Darius the Median. Later in Daniel, it is mentioned he is referred to Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes. The terms in Daniel narrow the field down. All indications are that the person of Cyaxares the Second, the son and successor of Astyages (Ahasuerus), and the immediate predecessor of Cyrus. Darius the Mede obtained the dominion over Babylon after the death of Belshazzar, the last Chaldean king. He preceded Koresh (Cyrus). Cyrus took Babylon in 538 BC. Darius the Mede must denote the first king of foreign dynasty who assumed the kingdom over the Babylonian empire before Cyrus.

These satraps were to report to the three overseers, presidents (sarek - Chaldean), or commissioners (sarak - Aramaic). Daniel was one of these overseers. Some versions of the Bible call Daniel the first or lead overseer. That could very well be but I believe it is not in verse 2 (see 6:3 comments). . Because of the age, experience, and dedication to the kings qualified him above the others. Of course, this was not held with approval by some. Darius did not want to have any financial loss. So he needed someone who was trustworthy. That is why he wanted someone like Daniel. This is another show of the pagan respect for a Jew (i.e. Nebbie's respect for Daniel).

It appears in this verse that Darius is satisfied with Daniel's way of handling his leadership job (one of the three). He THEN makes him head of the three which IS, in effect, leader over the WHOLE kingdom. In verses 1-2 he is ONE of the three that are over 120 satraps which WAS the WHOLE kingdom.

Daniel's clear ascendancy became the cause of jealousy and envy among the other governors and satraps. The other two commissioners and the satraps try to find any kind of mishandling of Daniel in his office but could find no blemishes. That meant they had to go through some other trickery to GET Daniel. They had to conjure some fake accusation if they were going to get rid o f Daniel. One thing to keep in mind about the ancient kings. Some of them were brilliant; some were not so bright. However, none of them wanted to be made a fool. So if one conjures up something to fool the king, one better follow through and not let the king know it was phony and not let the king seem a fool. This will become more important in verse 24.

The people against Daniel were satisfied of Daniel's integrity. They could not find anything wrong with his administration. The main thing that made Daniel different from all the others was his dedication to his God. The only way to get Daniel was to make some kind of a law against the way Daniel relates with his God.

The leaders go to Darius and, after giving kudos and praises to him, tell him to make a statute and enforce this statute. The statute was that no person could give petition bau (request, pray, homage, praise)to any god or man for thirty days. They could only give petition to Darius. It appears this limitation of the worshiping of any person except the king was for only a 30-day period. This was probably just a time set to get Daniel out of the picture for the rest of the satraps. They knew there was no way Daniel would not worship his God 30 days to say nothing of the fact he would not worship anything of anyone else other then his God. They assumed they could induce the king to sign, perhaps because it was flattering to the monarch, or perhaps because it would test the disposition of his new subjects to obey him, or perhaps because they knew he was a weak and effeminate prince, and that he was accustomed to sign papers presented to him by his counselors without much reflection or hesitation. It is not known for sure. Those who did not follow the statute would be thrown into the lion's den which means death.
The leaders asked quickly for Darius to sign the statute. Persians laws were irrevocable. (Esther 1:19; 8:8). When the king signed a law, under the Persian and Median law, it could not be revoked even by the king himself. The king would HAVE to follow through with any punishment and no favoritism. Darius signed the law.

Since Daniel was not privy to the statute going into execution, an announcement was probably made. If the law followed norms of the time, a person went out and read the decree to all the people. That is most likely how Daniel found out about the law. Daniel's knowledge of the decree of Darius not only failed to dissuade him from his practice of seeking God's face three times each day. But also created a desire in him to seek God's face immediately.

There is more of a meaning to the windows being toward Jerusalem than just having a good view from the window (can't see Jerusalem from Babylon anyway). The primary reason for the Jerusalem direction is to emphasize the tradition to pray toward Jerusalem. In ancient days, the synagogues were built on a high spot or hill and with the congregation facing Jerusalem. The tradition was also to pray three times a day in the synagogue. Although the times are not given in the book, the Jews would pray at least in morning, noon, and evening. The times were usually 9AM, 12PM, and 3PM.

Daniel's example of praying is one of legitimate disobedience to the government (Acts 5:29; Rom.13:1-2).

The leaders found Daniel making petition (seeking, asking, i.e. praying) and supplications (mostly considered praying for others) to his God. This was within the 30 day limit set up by the law Darius had just signed. Of course, this is on what the leaders were counting. There was no controversy over his guilt. There was also nothing that could be done to commute the "sentence" or change it. Daniel was going into the lion's den.

They "approached" the king because in those days people had to ask the king for permission to talk to the king. The book of Esther is a good example. She saved the Jewish people by putting her life into her own hands by going to speak to king Ahasuarus without permission. So this permission was very important. After getting permission, the leaders now approached the king to bring the information of Daniel breaking Darius' new law. They reiterated the fact that Daniel had just broken a law that Darius had just signed. Daniel did not give petition and supplication to Darius; he gave it to his God. For doing that the leaders said Daniel had to be thrown into the den of lions. Also, they reminded Darius he could not revoke the law.

The leaders tried to demean Daniel by telling Darius that Daniel was one of the original refugees; not part of the people of Persia. He was a foreigner, a captive. He was a Jew. Daniel was still praying three times a day to HIS God not to Darius.

Darius was very distressed with himself. Not only because he had to put Daniel in the lion's den but that he was too gullible to have allowed the law to have been made at all. He was not even as mad at the leaders for pushing the law as much as he was at himself for not having thought about what he did. He tried to "deliver" Daniel from the den. No doubt Darius tried to get the law annulled by speaking to his legal advisors. For Darius' foolishness and neglect, the law that could not be annulled. There were many reasons why Daniel should not have been executed. Some of them were:

  1. The law was brought about out of crafty enemies of Daniel.
  2. Daniel was guilty of no crime.
  3. He had a pure character.
  4. He had been praying and following this praying tradition all his life and under other kings. There was no reason to stop now.
  5. Justice and equity would not be done by this deed of the lion's den (even though it was the law).

However, the law was in place and there was no argument that Daniel had broken the law. In his distress, Darius was trying everything to prevent Daniel's execution all the way to sunset.

The leaders came to agreement with themselves and then with the king. Daniel had to be executed because the law could not be cancelled or removed. They assured the king of the law quickly. They did not want to give the king any time to reconsider.

A lion's den is a large underground cave with an opening at the top and probably one at the side to observe should the desire exist.<

One should not imagine that Daniel knew from the outset of the experience that rescue would be forthcoming. He was advanced in years, and there was no reason to suppose that God would intervene to spare his life again. Courage and steadfastness in faith motivated him to continue his walk with God. However, I believe this verse shows that Darius wanted him saved by his God. He had no choice but to put Daniel into the den but did not want to do it.

No doubt the placing of the stone over the entrance was ordered by the providence of God. That the miracle of Daniel's deliverance might appear more plain; and the king sealed it with his own signet. This was similar to the sealing of Jesus' tomb. The den was sealed with clay or wax. Then the king's ring was pressed into the material. This made a permanent marking that would have to be disturbed if someone or something tried to get Daniel out of the den. This is a very important step Darius needed to do. If anything happened and Daniel disappeared, it would appear Daniel was "saved" by some sympathizers or could possibly be killed by Daniel's enemies. To further secure the den seal, he had the nobles press their signet into the material.

The king returned to his room in a depressed mood. He fasted and eliminated all entertainment for the evening. He did not sleep that night. This indicates to me that Darius was a very depressed person for "having" to put Daniel to death. Like the kings before him, he respected and liked Daniel very much.

Darius probably did not sleep all night. He got up at the first light of the day and ran to the lion's den. He wanted to know what happened to Daniel. Darius was greatly depressed and was expressing grief greater than anyone could expect from a king that executed a man for not obeying his law.

Even before he got to the den, Darius was crying out to Daniel. He asks whether "Daniel, the servant of the living God" was saved by HIS (Daniel's) God. At first one thinks that he is referring to God as his god. Then he sticks in the words "has your God, whom you constantly serve". He still has not accepted God as the one and only. Darius wants to know if Daniel was protected by his God.

Daniel yells out a salutation to Darius. "O king, live forever" is a salutation not a comment on Darius's words he just yelled out at Daniel. This is a common salutation to address the king (see also Dan. 2:4). However, Daniel knew there might have been something else in Darius' interest. Daniel knew that Darius did not want to put him to death. Darius also showed a confidence that Daniel would be saved by his (Daniel's) God(Dan. 6:16).

Daniel says an angel of God shut the mouths of the lions and protected him. This may be absurd to some people to consider that God would send an angel. But, in fact, in the OT and NT God many times sent someone to speak for Him. Sometimes God used (and now uses) people to give wisdom and guidance to others. However, He also used (and now uses) angels to carry out specific instructions, assistance, and guidance. It is sure that Daniel thought it was a miracle that transpired. Although we never know why, where, or when God sends a miracle, it would seem obvious that a miracle could be appropriate if Daniel could have experienced this miracle for a couple of reasons: 1) a good man was in danger and 2) to effect a change on the king and local people. If these could be done, wouldn't be worthy of a miracle? However, people could ask about others in the history of life who were in danger and a miracle may effect changes in people but no miracle was performed. Why? Don't know why God chooses as He does!! But we do know Daniel was an innocent man. With relation to the king, he had never violated his duty to the king; he had done nothing that tended to overthrow his government; he had never done anything to spread disaffection among his subjects. All Daniel did was worship God.

How mighty was Daniel's faith in God. He was protected. Darius had Daniel removed from the den. Darius inspected Daniel and saw that he was not hurt. The king was very happy that Daniel was not hurt. Darius returned him to his duties in government. Daniel did not have any higher to go in government since he was already third in power.

We know the Persians were very famous for their cruel punishments. This cruel punishment is typically Persian. Darius knew the men and knew they had formed a conspiracy against Daniel. However, Darius did follow the law. But, Darius also knew he had to do something about these injustices that caused an innocent man (to God's law) suffer as he had. Darius gathered the men that did all the maliciousness to and lied about Daniel. He also gathered the men's children and wives. He had all of them thrown into the lion's den. As stated in scripture, before they got fully into the den, the lions were already crushing their bones.

Now Darius makes a decree to the kingdom. Remember, a decree is powerful. It cannot be revoked (see also Dan. 3:16). It is very interesting that both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius would state orally and in writing to show the greatest respect for the God of Daniel. Still, neither converted. Accepting God as the God of the gods is not accepting God as the one and only God of all. "Men are to fear and tremble" still reflects Darius' respect for Daniel's God but not as THE God. What he certainly does NOT want to do is get Daniel's God angry at him. With all the power of God, Darius could be in fear. "For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever." Powerful words; but not taken seriously enough by Darius to change his years of pagan heritage and tradition of beliefs. Darius also knows that Daniel's God protects and performs miracles. After all, God protected Daniel from the teeth of the lions.

This last verse covers a lot of time. This statement confirms that Daniel was "under" Darius and Cyrus who was the successor of Darius. Therefore, I do not believe the name Darius is any other name for Cyrus (which is one explanation to v 5:31). The sequence may be off. It is not known exactly how long Daniel worked with Cyrus. However, we do know that the performance of his work in the kingdom included Daniel being occupied busily in securing by his influence the welfare of his own people, and making arrangements for their return to their land.

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