on Daniel 3 :30
Then the king promoted, etc. - He restored them to the offices which they held before the charge of disobedience and treason was brought against them.
At the end of this verse the Septuagint add, "And he advanced them to be governors over all the Jews that were in his kingdom." This may be the meaning of the latter verse. They were more likely to be set over the Jews than over the Chaldeans.
on Daniel 3 :30
Then the king promoted Shadrach ... - Margin, "made to prosper." The Chaldee means no more than "made to prosper." Whether he restored them to their former places, or to higher honors, does not appear. There would be, however, nothing inconsistent with his usual course in supposing that he raised them to more exalted stations.
In the province of Babylon - See the notes at Daniel 2:49. The Greek and the Arabic add here, "And he counted them worthy to preside over all the Jews that were in his kingdom." But nothing of this is found in the Chaldee, and it is not known by whom this addition was made.
In the Vulgate and the Greek versions, and in some of the critical editions of the Hebrew Scriptures (Walton, Hahn, etc.), the three first verses of the following chapter are subjoined to this. It is well known that the divisions of the chapters are of no authority, but it is clear that these verses belong more appropriately to the following chapter than to this, as the reason there assigned by the monarch for the proclamation is what occurred to himself Daniel 3:2, rather than what he had witnessed in others. The division, therefore, which is made in our common version of the Bible, and in the Syriac and the Arabic, is the correct one.
I. The instance recorded in this chapter Daniel 3:1-7 is not improbably the first case which ever occurred in the world of an attempt to produce "conformity" in idolatrous worship by penal statute. It has, however, been abundantly imitated since, alike in the pagan and in the nominally Christian world. There are no portions of history more interesting than those which describe the progress of religious liberty; the various steps which have been taken to reach the result which has now been arrived at, and to settle the principles which are now regarded as the true ones. Between the views which were formerly entertained, and which are still entertained in many countries, and those which constitute the Protestant notions on the subject, there is a greater difference than there is, in regard to civil rights, between the views which prevail under an Oriental despotism, and the most enlarged and enlightened notions of civil freedom. The views which have prevailed on the subject are the following:
1. The "general" doctrine among the pagan has been, that there were many gods in heaven and earth, and that all were entitled to reverence. One nation was supposed to have as good a right to worship its own gods as another, and it was regarded as at least an act of courtesy to show respect to the gods that any nation adored, in the same way as respect would be shown to the sovereigns who presided over them. Hence, the gods of all nations could be consistently introduced into the Pantheon at Rome; hence, there were few attempts to "proselyte" among the pagan; and hence, it was not common to "persecute" those who worshipped other gods. Persecution of idolaters "by" those who were idolaters was, therefore, rarely known among the pagan, and "toleration" was not contrary to the views which prevailed, provided the gods of the country were recognized. In ancient Chaldea, Assyria, Greece, and Rome, in the earliest ages, persecution was rare, and the toleration of other forms of religion was usual.
2. The views which have prevailed leading to persecution, and which are a violation, as we suppose, of all just notions of liberty on the subject of religion, are the following:
(a) Those among the pagan which, as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, require "all" to worship a particular god that should be set up. In such a case, it is clear that while all who were "idolaters," and who supposed that "all" the gods worshipped by others should be respected, could render homage; it is also clear that those who regarded "all" idols as false gods, and believed that "none" of them ought to be worshipped, could "not" comply with the command. Such was the case with the Jews who were in Babylon Daniel 3:8-18, for supposing that there was but one God, it was plain that they could not render homage to any other. While, therefore, every idolater could render homage to "any" idol, the Hebrew could render homage to "none."
(b) The views among the pagan "prohibiting" the exercise of a certain kind of religion. According to the prevailing views, no mode of religion could be tolerated which would maintain that "all" the gods that were worshipped were false. Religion was supposed to be identified with the best interests of the state, and was recognized by the laws, and protected by the laws. To deny the claim, therefore, of any and of all the gods that were worshipped; to maintain that all were false alike; to call on men to forsake their idols, and to embrace a new religion - all this was regarded as an attack on the state. This was the attitude which Christianity assumed toward the religions of the Roman empire, and it was this which led to the fiery persecutions which prevailed there. While Rome could consistently tolerate any form of idolatry that would recognize the religion established by the state, it could not tolerate a system which maintained that "all" idolatry was wrong. It would allow another god to be placed in the Pantheon, but it could not recognize a system which woud remove every god from that temple. Christianity, then, made war on the system of idolatry that prevailed in the Roman empire in two respects: in proclaiming a "purer" religion, denouncing all the corruptions which idolatry had engendered, and which it countenanced; and in denying altogether that the gods which were worshipped were true gods - thus arraying itself against the laws, the priesthood, the venerable institutions, and all the passions and prejudices of the people. These views may be thus summed up:
(aa) all the gods worshipped by others were to be recognized;
(bb) new ones might be introduced by authority of the state;
(cc) the gods which the state approved and acknowledged were to be honored by all;
(dd) if any persons denied their existence, and their claims to homage, they were to be treated as enemies of the state.
It was on this last principle that persecutions ever arose under the pagan forms of religion. Infidels, indeed, have been accustomed to charge Christianity with all the persecutions on account of religion, and to speak in high terms of "the mild tolerance of the ancient pagans;" of "the universal toleration of polytheism;" of "the Roman princes beholding without concern a thousand forms of religion subsisting in peace under their gentle sway." - Gibbon. But it should be remembered that pagan nations required of every citizen conformity to their national idolatries. When this was refused, persecution arose as a matter of course. Stilpo was banished from Athens for affirming that the statue of Minerva in the citadel was no divinity, but only the work of the chisel of Phidias. Protagoras received a similar punishment for this sentence: "Whether there be gods or not, I have nothing to offer." Prodicus, and his pupil Socrates, suffered death for opinions at variance with the established idolatry of Athens. Alcibiades and Aeschylus narrowly escaped a like end for a similar cause. Cicero lays it down as a principle of legislation entirely conformable to the laws of the Roman state, that "no man shall have separate gods for himself; and no man shall worship by himself new or foreign gods, unless they have been publicly acknowledged by the laws of the state." - "De Legibus," ii. 8. Julius Paulus, the Roman civilian, gives the following as a leading feature of the Roman law: "Those who introduced new religions, or such as were unknown in their tendency and nature, by which the minds of men might be agitated, were degraded, if they belonged to the higher ranks, and if they were in a lower state, were punished with death." See M'Ilvaine's "Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity," pp. 427-429.
on Daniel 3 :30