“On the seventh day,
The king came
When he came
To the den,
He looked in.
There sat Daniel.
The king shouted
With a loud voice.
‘You are great!
God of Daniel!
There is no other
Then he pulled
He threw into the den
Those who had attempted
They were instantly eaten
Before his eyes.”
Thus, ends the great story of Daniel. On the 7th day, the king came to mourn the death of Daniel. Instead, he was surprised to see Daniel sitting in the den of lions. Then the king shouted out his praise for the God of Daniel, the Lord. There were no other gods like him. Next, he pulled Daniel out of the den. Finally, he threw those who had attempted the destruction of Daniel into the lion’s den. The lions immediately ate these men right before the eyes of the king.
Be in a stupor!
But not from wine!
But not from strong drink!
Yahweh has poured out upon you
A spirit of deep sleep.
He has closed your eyes!
He has covered your heads!
Somehow the inhabitants of Jerusalem have become unconscious, like drunkards. However, this stupor is not from drink or strong wine, even though they are blind and stagger around. Yahweh has given them a deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of the prophets and covered the heads of the wise seers.
Has enlarged its appetite.
It has opened its mouth
The nobility of Jerusalem
Go down to Sheol.
Go down to Sheol.
Go down to Sheol.
All who exult in her
Go down to Sheol.
People are bowed down.
Everyone is brought low.
The eyes of the haughty
But Yahweh of hosts
The Holy God
Shows himself holy
Then the lambs shall graze
As in their pasture.
Fatlings shall feed
Among the ruins.
Kids shall feed
Among the ruins.”
Because there were so many evil people, Sheol, the shadowy afterlife underworld, had to get bigger to hold all these people. After all, the nobility of Jerusalem would go down to Sheol. Along with them, the multitude and the throngs of people would also go down to Sheol. Everyone will be brought low, as the eyes of the haughty or proud will be humbled. However, Yahweh, the Lord, will be exalted by justice since he will show his righteous holiness. As for Jerusalem, the lambs, the fatlings, and the kid animals will graze as if they were in a pasture among those ruins of Jerusalem. This is a desolate picture.
“The souls of the righteous
Are in the hand of God.
No torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish
They seemed to have died.
Their departure was thought
To be an affliction.
Their going from us was thought
To be their destruction.
But they are at peace.
Though in the sight of others,
They were punished.
Their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little,
They will receive great good.
God tested them.
God found them worthy of himself.
Like gold in the furnace
He tried them.
Like a sacrificial burnt offering
He accepted them.”
The souls of the righteous (δίκαιον δὲ ψυχαι) or just ones are in the hands of God (ἐν χειρὶ Θεοῦ). What a great thought! They have no more torments. In the eyes of the foolish, they seem to have died. The fools thought that it was a disaster and destruction, but they are at peace (εἰρήνῃ). They seem to have been punished, but their hope is in full immortality (ἡ ἐλπὶς αὐτῶν ἀθανασίας πλήρης), the opposite of dead, fully non-dead. Once again, we have the idea that the just do not die. They were disciplined a little, but they received a great good. They were tested but found worthy. They were like gold in a furnace or an accepted sacrificial offering.
“Yahweh executes justice for the oppressed.
Yahweh gives food to the hungry.
Yahweh sets the prisoners free.
Yahweh opens the eyes of the blind.
Yahweh lifts up those who are bowed down.
Yahweh loves the righteous.
Yahweh watches over the strangers.
Yahweh upholds the orphan and the widow.
Yahweh brings to ruin the way of the wicked.”
Yahweh makes sure that there is justice for the oppressed. He gives food to the hungry. He sets prisoners free. He opens the eyes of the blind. He lifts up those who are bowed down. He loves the righteous. He watches over strangers. He helps orphans. He holds up widows. However, he brings to ruin those who are pursuing wicked ways.
“The law of Yahweh is perfect.
It revives the soul.
The decrees of Yahweh are sure.
They make wise the simple.
The precepts of Yahweh are right.
They rejoice the heart.
The commandment of Yahweh is clear.
It enlightens the eyes.
The fear of Yahweh is pure.
It endures forever.
The ordinances of Yahweh are true.
They are righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold.
They are even much finer than gold.
They are sweeter also than honey.
They are sweeter than the drippings of the honeycomb.”
In order to counteract the preceding almost pagan eulogy to the sun, the Mosaic law of Yahweh gets special mention. It is the law of Yahweh, the decrees of Yahweh, the precepts of Yahweh, the commandments of Yahweh, the ordinances of Yahweh. There can be no mistake. This is the law of Yahweh that begins with the fear of Yahweh. They revive the soul. They make the simple wise. They rejoice the heart. They enlighten the eyes. They set righteous and endure forever. They are finer than gold and sweeter than honey. Clearly the law of Yahweh is central, not the sun.
“You are not a God who delights in wickedness.
Evil will not sojourn with you.
The boastful may not stand before your eyes.
You hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies.
Yahweh abhors the bloodthirsty and the deceitful.”
Yahweh does not like wickedness since evil has no place with him. We now get a glimpse of who these wicked people are. They are the boastful ones. They speak lies. They are bloodthirsty. They are deceitful. All of these kinds of people cannot stand before the eyes of Yahweh.
“When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all as she found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. When Esther was taken to King Artaxerxes into his royal palace in the twelfth month, which is Adar, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won his favor and grace over all the virgins. He set the royal diadem crown on her head as she became queen. Then the king gave a great banquet to all his friends and officials lasting seven days to celebrate his marriage to Esther. He also granted a holiday remission of taxes to all the provinces under his rule. He gave gifts with royal liberality.”
Esther finally got her turn to audition with the king. She simply followed the advice of the eunuch Hegai. This was now the 7th year of the king’s rule, around 458 BCE. The original feast where the argument took place about Queen Vashti was in the 3rd year of his rule. Now after 4 years, Vashti was gone, without any mention of what happened to her. Now King Artaxerxes was smitten with Esther as he said that she was the one, since he loved her more than all the others. He immediately gave her the crown as she became Queen Esther. He gave a big wedding banquet in Esther’s honor. He also gave a tax holiday. Now that is a real holiday. He also gave gifts, which seems the opposite of most weddings where the bride and groom get the gifts. There is no specific mention of a wedding ceremony, but it might be presumed if they had a wedding banquet. There seems to be no problem about a Jewish woman marrying a non-Jewish person as there was in Ezra, chapters 9-10, and Nehemiah, chapter 10, which would have been about the same time frame. That prohibition was more about Jewish men marrying non-Jewish women.