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Cyrus from their bulwarks. . However he persisted for nearly two years, till at length gaining intelligence that a great annual festival was to be kept in Babylon, on which it was usual for the Babylonians to spend the whole night in drunkenness and riot, he thought it a proper time to surprise them, which he did, by breaking down a dam that was between the river, and a famous canal ; by which means he drained off the water, so that the river soon became fordable, and two parties of soldiers marching by the channel of it, and finding the gates open, they entered and advanced to the palace, where they slew the king. The inhabitants soon yielded to the conqueror, and Cyrus became master of the place, and thus concluded his conquests, after a war of twenty-one years.
His victories were so extensive, that his empire was the greatest that had ever been in Asia; and to the honour of Cyrus it is related, that he conquered still more by his humanity and courtesy than by his sword.
Thus ended the Babylonish empire, after it had continued from the reign of Nabonassar 200 years, just 50 years after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple at Jerusalem. The head of gold, which Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of, was now broken to pieces, according to the prediction of Daniel *; and the stone (cut out without hands) which smote it, became a great mountain, as he foretold.
Cyrus, as long as his uncle lived, allowed him a joint title in the empire, and yielding him the first place of honour in it, though he was the principal agent under Divine Providence in obtaining it, Cyaxares accordingly was called King, and distinguished by the name of Darius the Median.
After Cyrus had settled his affairs in Babylon, he went to Persia; and in his return through Media married the daughter of Darius the Median : Darius then accompanied him to Babylon; on their arrival, they took counsel together for the settling of the whole empire,
HISTORY OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE UNDER THE JOINT
GOVERNMENT OF DARIUS AND CYRUS.
From Dan. Chap. vi. Ir pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes which should be over the whole kingdom:
And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts utito tnem, and the king should have no damage.
Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find
occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.
All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have
consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
Now O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house: and his windows being open in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.
Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree. Hast thou not signed a decree that every man that shall ask a petition of any god or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, Oking, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.
Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and he set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, o king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, that no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.
Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually he will deliver thee.
And a stone was brought and laid upon the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.
Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night in fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him, and his sleep went from him.
Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel; and the king spake and said to Daniel, o Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions ?
Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
My God hath sent his angel and hath shut the lions mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also be. fore thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and cominanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him because he believed in his God.
And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives: and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces, or ever they came to the bottom of the den. Then king Darius wrote unto all the people, nations,
and languages, that dwell in all the earth, Peace be multiplied unto you.
I make a decree, that in every dominion of my kingdom, men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel ; for he is the living God, and steadfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. Daniel was renowned throughout the east country for his wisdom; and having great experience, he was certainly a very proper person for the high office to which he was appointed. He had been employed full sixty-five years as prime minister under the kings of Babylon: the high station of chief of the presidents placed him next to the king in dignity. Cyrus was gone to settle some affairs in Syria when the cruel plot, related in this Section, was concerted against Daniel.
It is pleasing to read, that Daniel's inflexible honesty and faithful service, met with a proper reward. The reason which Darius gave for placing him in a post of distinction, reflects honour on himself as well as on Daniel.
But we find that even the extraordinary merit of this good prophet could not secure him from that envy which is usually the attendant of favourites. Unable to bear the lustre of his superior merit, and impatient to obtain for themselves the honours which were so liberally bestowed on him, the courtiers determined to watch for an opportunity of bringing him into disgrace K 5