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Commentary On Daniel Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Daniel 5:29

29. Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

29. Tunc jussit Beltsazar, et vestierunt Danielem purpura, et torques aureus super collum ejus: et clamabant coram ipso quod dominaretur tertius in regno.

This order of the king may excite surprise, since he had been so sharply reproved by the Prophet. He next seemed to have lost all spirit, for he had grown pale a hundred times, and would have devoted the holy Prophet of God to a thousand deaths! How happens it, then, that he ordered him to be adorned with royal apparel, and next to be proclaimed by his own herald the third person in the kingdom? Some think this was done because the laws of kings were sacred among the Babylonians; nay, their very words were held as binding, and whatever they proclaimed, they desired it to be esteemed firm and inviolable. They suppose King Belshazzar to have acted thus through ambition, that he might keep his promises. My opinion is, that he was at first utterly astonished, and through listening to the Prophet he became like a stock or a stone! I think he did so to consult his own ease and safety; otherwise he would have been contemptible to his nobles. To shew himself unmoved, he commands Daniel to be clothed in these robes, as if his threat had been perfectly harmless. He did not despise what the Prophet had said, but he wished to persuade his nobles and all his guests of his perfect indifference to God's threats, as if he did not utter them for the purpose of executing them, but only of terrifying them all. Thus kings, when greatly terrified, are always exceedingly careful not to shew any sign of their timidity, since they think their authority would become materially weakened. To continue, therefore, his reverence among his subjects, he is desirous of appearing exceedingly careless and undisturbed; and I do not hesitate to pronounce this to have been the tyrant's intention in ordering Daniel to be clad in purple and in royal magnificence.

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