on Daniel 6 :10
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed - He saw what was designed, and he knew whom he served.
His windows being open - He would not shut them to conceal himself, but "kneeled down with his face turned toward Jerusalem, and prayed thrice each day, giving thanks to God as usual." When the Jews were in distant countries, in prayer they turned their faces towards Jerusalem; and when in Jerusalem, they turned their faces towards the temple. Solomon, in his prayer at the dedication of the temple, 1 Kings 8:48, had entreated God to hear the prayers of those who might be in strange lands, or in captivity, when they should turn their faces towards their own land, which God gave unto their fathers; and towards the city which he had chosen, and the house which was dedicated to his name. It was in reference to this that Daniel turned his face towards Jerusalem when he prayed.
on Daniel 6 :10
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed - Probably there was some proclamation made in regard to that decree.
He went into his house - That is, he went in in his usual manner. He made no change in his habits on account of the decree.
And his windows being open in his chamber - Open in the usual manner. It does not mean that he took pains to open them for the purpose of ostentation, or to show that he disregarded the decree, but that he took no care to close them with any view to avoid the consequences. In the warm climate of Babylon, the windows probably were commonly open. Houses among the Jews in later times, if not in the time of the exile, were usually constructed with an upper chamber - ὑπερῷον huperōon - which was a room not in common use, but employed as a guest chamber, where they received company and held feasts, and where at other times they retired for prayer and meditation. See the note at Matthew 9:2. Those "upper rooms" are often the most pleasant and airy part of the house. Dr. Robinson (Researches, vol. iii. p. 417), describing the house of the American consularagent in Sidon, says, "His house was a large one, built upon the eastern wall of the city; the rooms were spacious, and furnished with more appearance of wealth than any I saw in the country. An upper parlour with many windows, on the roof of the proper house, resembled a summer palace; and commanded a delightful view of the country toward the east, full of trees and gardens, and country-houses, quite to the foot of the mountains."
Toward Jerusalem - It is not improbable that the windows were open on each side of the chamber, but this is particularly mentioned, because he turned his face toward Jerusalem when he prayed. This was natural to an exile Hebrew in prayer, because the temple of God had stood at Jerusalem, and that was the place where he abode by a visible symbol. It is probable that the Jews in their own country always in their prayers turned the face toward Jerusalem, and it was anticipated when the temple was dedicated, that this would be the case in whatever lands they might be. Thus in the prayer of Solomon, at the dedication, he says, "If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name," etc., 1 Kings 8:44. And again 1 Kings 8:46-49, "If they sin against thee, and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent - and pray unto thee toward their land which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name, then hear thou their prayer," etc.
Compare 1 Kings 8:33, 1 Kings 8:35, 1 Kings 8:38. So in Psalm 5:7 : "As for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." So Jonah it. 4: "Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple." So in the first book of Esdras (Apocrypha), 4:58: "Now when this young man was gone forth, he lifted up his face to heaven, toward Jerusalem, and praised the King of heaven." Compare Intro. Section II. V. C. Daniel, therefore, in turning his face toward Jerusalem when he prayed, was acting in accordance with what Solomon had anticipated as proper in just such a supposed case, and with the prevailing habit of his people when abroad. This was not, indeed, particularly prescribed as a duty, but it was recognized as proper; and it was not only in accordance with the instinctive feelings of love to his country and the temple, but a foundation was laid for this in the fact that Jerusalem was regarded as the peculiar dwelling-place of God on earth.
In the Koran it is enjoined as a duty on all Mussulmen, in whatever part of the earth they may be, to turn their faces toward the Caaba at Mecca when they pray: "The foolish men will say, What hath turned them from their Keblah toward which they formerly prayed? Say, unto God belongeth the East and the West; he directeth whom he pleaseth in the right way. Thus have we placed you, O Arabians, an intermediate nation, that ye may be witnesses against the rest of mankind, and that the apostle may be a witness against you. We appointed the Keblah, toward which thou didst formerly pray, only that we might know him who followeth the apostle from him that turneth back on his heels: though this change seem a great matter, unless unto those whom God hath directed. But God will not render your faith of none effect, for God is gracious and merciful unto man. We have seen thee turn about thy face toward heaven with uncertainty, but we will cause thee to turn thyself toward a Keblah that will please thee.
Turn, therefore, thy face toward the holy temple of Mecca; and wherever ye be, turn your faces toward that place." - Sale's Koran, chapter ii. Wherever Mussulmen are, therefore, they turn their faces toward the temple at Mecca when they pray. Daniel complied with what was probably the general custom of his countrymen, and what was natural in his case, for there was, in the nature of the case, a reason why he should turn his face toward the place where God had been accustomed to manifest himself. It served to keep up in his mind the remembrance of his beloved country, and in his case could be attended with no evil. As all visible symbols of the Devine Being are now, however, withdrawn from any particular place on the earth, there is no propriety in imitating his example, and when we pray it is wholly immaterial in what direction the face is turned.
He kneeled upon his knees three times a day - In accordance, doubtless, with his usual custom. The amount of the statement is, that he did not vary his habit on account of the command. He evidently neither assumed a posture of ostentation, nor did he abstain from what he was accustomed to do. To have departed from his usual habit in any way would have been a yielding of principle in the case. It is not mentioned at what time in the day Daniel thus kneeled and prayed, but we may presume that it was evening, and morning, and noon. Thus the Psalmist says: "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and he shall hear my voice" Psalm 55:17. No one can doubt the propriety of thus praying to God; and it would be well for all thus to call upon their God.
As he did aforetime - Without making any change. He neither increased nor diminished the number of times each day in which he called upon God; nor did he make any change in the manner of doing it. He did not seek ostentatiously to show that he was a worshipper of God, nor was he deterred by the fear of punishment from doing as he had been accustomed to do. If it should be said that Daniel's habit of worship was ostentatious; that his praying with his windows open was contrary to the true spirit of retiring devotion, and especially contrary to the spirit required of worshippers in the New Testament, where the Saviour commands us when we pray to "enter into the closet, and to shut the door" Matthew 6:6, it may be replied,
(1) That there is no evidence that Daniel did this for the purpose of ostentation, and the supposition that he did it for that purpose is contrary to all that we know of his character;
(2) As we have seen, this was the customary place for prayer, and the manner of the prayer was what was usual;
(3) The chamber, or upper part of the house, was in fact the most retired part, and was a place where one would be least likely to be heard or seen; and
(4) There is no evidence that it would not have been quite private and unobserved if these men had not gone to his house and listened for the very purpose of detecting him at his devotions. No one could well guard against such a purpose.
on Daniel 6 :10