on Daniel 3 :2
Sent to gather together the princes - It is not easy to show what these different offices were, as it is difficult to ascertain the meaning of the Chaldee words. Parkhurst analyzes them thus: -
The Princes - אחשדרפניא achashdarpenaiya, from אחש Achash, great or eminent, and דר dar, "to go about freely," and פנים panim, "the presence." Satraps or privy counsellors who had free access to the presence of the king.
The Governors - סגניא signaiya, lieutenants or viceroys, for סגן sagan, among the Hebrews, was the name of the high priest's deputy.
The Captains - פחותא pachavatha, from פח pach, to extend, because set over those provinces that had been annexed to the kingdom by conquest. Pashas - This word and office are still in use in Asiatic countries. By corruption we pronounce bashaw.
The Judges - אדרגזריא adargazeraiya, from אדר adar, noble or magnificent, and גזר gazar, to decree. The nobles, the assistants to the king in making laws, statutes, etc. The same probably in Babylon, as the House of Lords in England.
The Treasurers - גדבריא gedaberaiya, from גנז ganaz, (the ז zain being changed into ד daleth, according to the custom of the Chaldee), to treasure up, and בר bar, pure. Those who kept the current coin, or were over the mint; the treasurers of the exchequer in Babylon.
The Counsellors - דתבריא dethaberaiya, from דת dath, a statute, and בר bar, "to declare the meaning of the law;" for in all ages and countries there has been what is termed the glorious uncertainty of the law; and therefore there must be a class of men whose business it is to explain it. What a pity that law cannot be tendered to the people as other sciences are, in plain, unsophisticated, and intelligible terms, and by persons whose business it is to show what is just and right, and not pervert truth, righteousness, and judgment.
The Sheriffs - תפתיא tiphtaye, from תפת taphath, in Hebrew, שפת shaphath, "to set in order." Probably civil magistrates.
And all the rulers of the provinces - All other state or civil officers, not only to grace the solemnity, but to maintain order. My old Bible renders them: Satrapis, or wise men. Magistratis. Jugis. Duykis, Tyrauntis, or stronge men. Prefectis, and alle the Princes of Cuntreese.
on Daniel 3 :2
Then, Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes - It is difficult now, if not impossible, to determine the exact meaning of the words used here with reference to the various officers designated; and it is not material that it should be done. The general sense is, that he assembled the great officers of the realm to do honor to the image. The object was doubtless to make the occasion as magnificent as possible. Of course, if these high officers were assembled, an immense multitude of the people would congregate also. That this was contemplated, and that it in fact occurred, is apparent from Daniel 3:4, Daniel 3:7. The word rendered "princes" (אחשׁדרפניא 'ăchashedarepenayâ') occurs only in Daniel, in Ezra, and in Esther. In Daniel 3:2-3, Daniel 3:27; Daniel 6:1-4, Daniel 6:6-7, it is uniformly rendered "princes;" in Ezra 8:36; Esther 3:12; Esther 8:9; Esther 9:3, it is uniformly rendered "lieutenants." The word means, according to Gesenius (Lex.), "satraps, the governors or viceroys of the large provinces among the ancient Persians, possessing both civil and military power, and being in the provinces the representatives of the sovereign, whose state and splendor they also rivaled." The etymology of the word is not certainly known. The Persian word "satrap" seems to have been the foundation of this word, with some slight modifications adapting it to the Chaldee mode of pronunciation.
The governors - סגניא sı̂genayâ'. This word is rendered "governors" in Daniel 2:48 (see the note at that place), and in Daniel 3:3, Daniel 3:27; Daniel 6:7. It does not elsewhere occur. The Hebrew word corresponding to this - סגנים segânı̂ym - occurs frequently, and is rendered "rulers" in every place except Isaiah 41:25, where it is rendered "princes:" Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 2:16; Nehemiah 4:14 (7); Nehemiah 5:7, Nehemiah 5:17; Nehemiah 7:5; Jeremiah 51:23, Jeremiah 51:28, Jeremiah 51:57; Ezekiel 23:6, Ezekiel 23:12, Ezekiel 23:23, et al. The office was evidently one that was inferior to that of the "satrap," or governor of a whole province.
And the captains - פחותא pachăvâtâ'. This word, wherever it occurs in Daniel, is rendered "captains," Daniel 3:2-3, Daniel 3:27; Daniel 6:7; wherever else it occurs it is rendered governor, Ezra 5:3, Ezra 5:6, Ezra 5:14; Ezra 6:6-7, Ezra 6:13. The Hebrew word corresponding to this (פחה pechâh) occurs frequently, and is also rendered indifferently, "governor" or "captain:" 1 Kings 10:15; 2 Chronicles 9:14; Ezra 8:36; 1 Kings 20:24; Jeremiah 51:23, Jeremiah 51:28, Jeremiah 51:57, et al. It refers to the governor of a province less than satrapy, and is applied to officers in the Assyrian empire, 2 Kings 18:24; Isaiah 36:9; in the Chaldean, Ezekiel 23:6, Ezekiel 23:23; Jeremiah 51:23; and in the Persian, Esther 8:9; Esther 9:3. The word "captains" does not now very accurately express the sense. The office was not exclusively military, and was of a higher grade than would be denoted by the word "captain," with us.
The judges - אדרגזריא 'ădaregâzerayâ'. This word occurs only here, and in Daniel 3:3. It means properly great or "chief judges" - compounded of two words signifying "greatness," and "judges." See Gesenius, (Lex.)
The treasurers - גדבריא gedâberayâ'. This word occurs nowhere else. The word גזבר gizbâr, however, the same word with a slight change in the pronunciation, occurs in Ezra 1:8; Ezra 7:21, and denotes "treasurer." It is derived from a word (גנז gânaz) which means to hide, to hoard, to lay up in store.
The counselors - דתבריא dethâberayâ'. This word occurs nowhere else, except in Daniel 3:3. It means one skilled in the law; a judge. The office was evidently inferior to the one denoted by the word "judges."
The sheriffs - A sheriff with us is a county officer, to whom is entrusted the administration of the laws. In England the office is judicial as well as ministerial. With us it is merely ministerial. The duty of the sheriff is to execute the civil and criminal processes throughout the county. He has charge of the jail and prisoners, and attends courts, and keeps the peace. It is not to be supposed that the officer here referred to in Daniel corresponds precisely with this. The word used (תפתיא tı̂ptâyē') occurs nowhere else. It means, according to Gesenius, persons learned in the law; lawyers. The office had a close relation to that of "Mufti" among the Arabs, the term being derived from the same word, and properly means "a wise man; one whose response is equivalent to law."
And all the rulers of the provinces - The term here used is a general term, and would apply to any kind of officers or rulers, and is probably designed to embrace all which had not been specified. The object was to assemble the chief officers of the realm. Jacchiades has compared the officers here enumerated with the principal officers of the Turkish empire, and supposes that a counterpart to them may be found in that empire. See the comparison in Grotius, in loc. He supposes that the officers last denoted under the title of "rulers of the provinces" were similar to the Turkish "Zangiahos" or "viziers." Grotius supposes that the term refers to the rulers of cities and places adjacent to cities - a dominion of less extent and importance than that of the rulers of provinces.
To come to the dedication of the image ... - The public setting it apart to the purposes for which it was erected. This was to be done with solemn music, and in the presence of the principal officers of the kingdom. Until it was dedicated to the god in whose honor it was erected, it would not be regarded as an object of worship. It is easy to conceive that such an occasion would bring together an immense concourse of people, and that it would be one of peculiar magnificence.
on Daniel 3 :2