on Daniel 1 :20
Magicians and astrologers - Probably the same as philosophers and astronomers among us.
on Daniel 1 :20
And in all matters of wisdom and understanding - Margin, "of." The Hebrew is, "Everything of wisdom of understanding." The Greek, "In all things of wisdom "and" knowledge." The meaning is, in everything which required peculiar wisdom to understand and explain it. The points submitted were such as would appropriately come before the minds of the sages and magicians who were employed as counselors at court.
He found them ten times better - Better counselors, better informed. Hebrew, "ten "hands" above the magicians;" that is, ten "times," or "many" times. In this sense the word "ten" is used in Genesis 31:7, Genesis 31:41; Numbers 14:22; Nehemiah 4:12; Job 19:3. They greatly surpassed them.
Than all the magicians - Greek, τοὺς ἐπαοιδοὺς tous epaoidous. The Greek word means, "those singing to;" then those who propose to heal the sick by singing; then those who practice magical arts or incantations - particularly with the idea of charming with songs; and then those who accomplish anything surpassing human power by mysterious and supernatural means. - Passow. The Hebrew word (הרטמים chareṭummı̂ym), occurs only in the following places in the Scriptures, in all of which it is rendered "magicians:" - Genesis 41:8, Genesis 41:24; Exodus 7:11, Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:7 (3), 18 (14), 19 (15); Exodus 9:11; Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2. From this it appears that it applied only to the magicians in Egypt and in Babylon, and doubtless substantially the same class of persons is referred to. It is found only in the plural number, "perhaps" implying that they formed companies, or that they were always associated together, so that different persons performed different parts in their incantations.
The word is defined by Gesenius to mean, "Sacred scribes, skilled in the sacred writings or hieroglyphics - ἱερογραμματεῖς hierogrammateis - a class of Egyptian priests." It is, according to him (Lex.), of Hebrew origin, and is derived from חרט chereṭ, "stylus" - an instrument of writing, and the formative מ (m). It is not improbable, he suggests, that the Hebrews with these letters imitated a similar Egyptian word. Prof. Stuart (in loc.) says that the word would be correctly translated "pen-men," and supposes that it originally referred to those who were "busied with books and writing, and skilled in them." It is evident that the word is not of Persian origin, since it was used in Egypt long before it occurs in Daniel. A full and very interesting account of the Magians and their religion may be found in Creuzer, "Mythologie und Symbolik," i. pp. 187-234. Herodotus mentions the "Magi" as a distinct people, i.101.
The word "Mag" or "Mog" (from the μάγοι magoi of the Greeks, and the "magi" of the Romans) means, properly, a "priest;" and at a very early period the names "Chaldeans" and "Magi" were interchangeable, and both were regarded as of the same class. - Creuzer, i. 187, note. They were doubtless, at first, a class of priests among the Medes and Persians, who were employed, among other things, in the search for wisdom; who were connected with pagan oracles; who claimed acquaintance with the will of the gods, and who professed to have the power, therefore, of making known future events, by explaining dreams, visions, preternatural appearances, etc. The Magi formed one of the six tribes into which the Medes were formerly divided (Herodotus, i. 101), but on the downfall of the Median empire they continued to retain at the court of the conqueror a great degree of power and authority. "The learning of the Magi was connected with astrology and enchantment, in which they were so celebrated that their name was applied to all orders of magicians and enchanters." - Anthon, "Class. Dic." These remarks may explain the reason why the word "magician" comes to be applied to this class of men, though we are not to suppose that the persons referred to in Genesis and Exodus, under the appellation of the Hebrew name there given to them (הרטמים chareṭummı̂ym), or those found in Babylon, referred to in the passage before us, to whom the same name is applied, were of that class of priests.
The name "magi," or "magician," was so extended as to embrace "all" who made pretensions to the kind of knowledge for which the magi were distinguished, and hence, came also to be synonymous with the "Chaldeans," who were also celebrated for this. Compare the notes at Daniel 2:2. In the passage before us it cannot be determined with certainty, that the persons were of "Magian" origin, though it is possible, as in Daniel 2:2, they are distinguished from the Chaldeans. All that is certainly meant is, that they were persons who laid claim to the power of diving into future events; of explaining mysteries; of interpreting dreams; of working by enchantments, etc.
And astrologers - - האשׁפים hâ'ashâpı̂ym. This word is rendered by the Septuagint, μάγους magous, "magians." So also in the Vulgate, "magos." The English word "astrologer" denotes "one who professes to foretell future events by the aspects and situation of the stars." - Webster. The Hebrew word - אשׁפים 'ashâpı̂ym - according to Gesenius, means "enchanters, magicians." It is derived, probably, from the obsolete root אשׁף 'âshap, "to cover," "to conceal," and refers to those who were devoted to the practice of occult arts, and to the cultivation of recondite and cabalistic sciences. It is supposed by some philologists to have given rise, by dropping the initial א to the Greek σοφος sophos, "wise, wise man," and the Persian sophi, an epithet of equivalent import. See Gesenius on the word, and compare Bush on Daniel 2:2. The word is found only in Daniel, Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2, Daniel 2:10, Daniel 2:27; Daniel 4:7 (4); Daniel 5:7, Daniel 5:11, Daniel 5:15, in every instance rendered "astrologer" and "astrologers." There is no evidence, however, that the science of astrology enters into the meaning of the word, or that the persons referred to attempted to pracrise divination by the aid of the stars. It is to be regretted that the term "astrologer" should have been employed in our translation, as it conveys an intimation which is not found in the original. It is, indeed, in the highest degree probable, that a part of their pretended wisdom consisted in their ability to cast the fates of men by the conjunctions and opposition of the stars, but this is not necessarily implied in the word. Prof. Stuart renders it "enchanters."
In all his realm - Not only in the capital, but throughout the kingdom. These arts were doubtless practiced extensively elsewhere, but it is probable that the most skillful in them would be assembled at the capital.
on Daniel 1 :20