Title (Hag 1:1-1:1)

“In the second year

Of King Darius,

In the sixth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai,

To Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

Governor of Judah.

It also came

To Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.”

There is a precise date to this prophetic happening, August, 520 BCE, the second year of the great King Darius of Persia (522-486 BCE).  During his reign, he ruled over nearly ½ of the known world, over 50,000,000 people.  The word of Yahweh came through the prophet Haggai, although there is no mention of his family.  Perhaps he was one of those returning from the exile in Babylon.  In the Book of Ezra, chapter 5, Haggai and Zechariah were explicitly mentioned as prophets.  There was also a eunuch servant Haggai in the Book of Esther, but there seems to be no connection to this Haggai.  This Haggai was to prophesize to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, who was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin (598 BCE).  Thus, he could be in the Davidic line.  He probably died sometime around 520 BCE, sometime around the events described here.  King Cyrus had appointed Zerubbabel to be the Governor of Judah in 538 BCE, when he was among the first exiles sent back to Jerusalem.  Joshua, the son of Jehozadak was the high priest in Jerusalem from 515-490 BCE.

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The vision in Susa (Dan 8:1-8:2)

“In the third year

Of the reign

Of King Belshazzar,

A vision appeared

To me,

Daniel.

This was after

What appeared to me

At first.

In the vision,

I was looking.

I saw myself

In Susa,

In the capital,

In the province

Of Elam.

I was by

The river Ulai.”

Daniel once again assumes the first-person singular. His second vision took place two years after the first dream, around 542 BCE, the 3rd year of King Belshazzar. In this vision, he was in Susa, the winter capital of Babylon, also mentioned in the Book of Esther. Susa was the ancient capital of the province of Elam. The Ulai River or the Eulaeus River, or as it is known today as the Karkheh River flowed through Susa. Today Susa is known as Shush, in Iran.

The new decree (Dan 6:7-6:9)

“All the presidents

Of the kingdom,

The prefects,

The satraps,

The counselors,

The governors,

All agreed.

The king

Should establish

An ordinance.

He should enforce

An interdict.

‘Whoever prays

To anyone,

Divine,

Or human,

For thirty days,

Except to you,

O king!

Shall be cast

Into a den of lions.

Now,

O king!

Establish the interdict!

Sign the document!

Thus,

It cannot be changed,

According to the law

Of the Medes,

Of the Persians.

It cannot be revoked.’

Therefore,

King Darius signed

The document.

He signed

The interdict.”

Thus, the two other presidents of the kingdom, with the prefects, the satraps, the counselors, and the governors all agreed that the king should establish an ordinance to be enforced as an interdict. This ordinance would say that anyone who prayed to any divine or human for the next 30 days, except to the king himself, should be cast into a den of lions. Then the king established this interdict and signed the document that could not be changed, according to the laws of Medes and Persia. This is somewhat reminiscent of the story of the king in Book of Esther, chapters 3-4 and 8-9, against the Jews.

Azariah stands still to pray (Dan 3:1-3:2)

“They walked around

In the midst

Of the flames.

They were singing

Hymns to God.

They were blessing

The Lord.

Then Azariah stood still

In the fire.

He prayed aloud.”

Like the Book of Esther, this Book of Daniel has several sections that were not in the Hebrew text. Thus, they did not make it into the English King James Bible, and so became known as Apocrypha. This prayer of Azariah, one of the 3 men in the furnace, and then their joint prayer that follows, can be found in the Greek Septuagint, but not in the Hebrew text. The Bible of Jerusalem also includes it here. The New Oxford Standard lists it as “additions to Daniel, inserted between 3:23 and 3:24.” I have given it its own separate verse numbers as if it were complete in itself. The 3 men in the furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, walked around in the middle of the hot flames. They were singing hymns and blessing God, the Lord. Then Azariah, who was called Abednego, stood still. He uttered his prayer out loud. The rest of this section is his beautiful prayer.