Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jerome on the Jewish Tradition that Daniel was a Eunuch of the Royal Line of David

Here is what Jerome says in his Commentary on Daniel:

This is in disagreement with the Hebrew edition as it is accurately read; I have translated it as "rulers," especially because it is preceded by the words "of the seed royal." From this passage the Hebrews think that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were eunuchs, thus fulfilling that prophecy which is spoken by Isaiah regarding Hezekiah: "And they shall take of thy seed and make eunuchs of them in the house of the king of Babylon" (Isa. 37: 7). If however they were of the seed royal, there is no doubt but what they were of the line of David. But perhaps the following words are opposed to this interpretation: "... lads, or youths, who were free from all blemish, in order that he might teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans." Philo supposes that Chaldee is the same thing as the Hebrew language, because Abraham came from the Chaldeans. But if we accept this we must ask how the Hebrew lads could now be bidden to be taught a language which they already knew; unless, perchance, we should say, as some believe, that Abraham was acquainted with two languages.

Verse 7. "And the overseer of the eunuchs imposed names upon them, calling Daniel Belteshazzar (Balthasar), and Hananiah Shadrach, and Mishael Meshach, and Azariah Abednego." It was not only the overseer or master of the eunuchs (as others have rendered it, the "chief-eunuch") who changed the names of saints, but also Pharaoh called Joseph in Egypt (Gen. 41) (F) Somtonphanec [Heb.: Zaphenath-paaneah], for neither of them wished them to have Jewish names in the land of captivity. Wherefore the prophet says in the Psalm: "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" (Ps. 136:4). Furthermore the Lord Himself changes names benignly, and on the basis of events imposes names of special significance, so as to call Abram Abraham, and Sarai Sarah (Gen. 17). Also in the Gospel, the former Simon received the name of Peter (Mark 3), and the sons of Zebedee are called "sons of thunder"----which is not boanerges, as most people suppose, but is more correctly read benereem [a reading for which there is no manuscript support, but which would be the Hebrew for "sons of thunder"].

Verse 8. "Daniel, however, purposed in his heart that he would not be defiled by food from the king's table, nor by the wine which he drank, and he asked the chief of the eunuchs that he might not be polluted." He who would not eat or drink of the king's food or wine lest he be denied (especially if he should be aware that the wisdom and teaching of the Babylonians is mistaken), would never consent to utter what was wrong. On the contrary they [i.e., the Hebrew youths] speak it forth, not that they may follow it themselves, but in order to pass judgment upon it and refute it. Just as anyone would expose himself to ridicule if he being untrained in mathematics should desire to write in confutation of mathematicians, or, being ignorant of the teachings of philosophers should desire to write in opposition to philosophers. Hence they [i.e., the Hebrew youths] study the teaching of the Chaldeans with the same intention as Moses studied the wisdom of the Egyptians.
[Jerome Commentary on Daniel]

Now what is so significant here is that Daniel isn't just understood by an ancient and early Jewish tradition to be a 'eunuch' but strangely - a castrated descendant of the Davidic line.

I think some of you can see where I am going with this.

The Christian conception is that becoming an initiated eunuch transforms the individual in such a way that he takes on a higher form of consciousness. He is now able to have visions and understanding not afforded the ordinary people of the flesh.

Yet Christianity is also built around Daniel's expectation of the end of Judaism after the appearance of the messiah. (Daniel 9:26) And the messiah will be 'cut off.' The Hebrew word here is karath. Take a guess what one of the shades of meaning of karath are:

Strong's Number: 3772 כרת "to cut, cut off, cut down, cut off a body part, cut out, eliminate, kill, cut a covenant."

And take a guess what one of the most frequent cut off body parts that 'karath' refers to? You guessed it. One possible interpretation of Dan 9:26's messiah who will be 'karathed' is that he will be castrated.

As I have noted many times before, the author of the original gospel uses Daniel 9:24 - 27 as the basis to Jesus's 'little Apocalypse.' LGM 1 of Secret Mark (according to my interpretation) has Jesus instruct his beloved neaniskos (who I have always believed ends up sitting enthroned at the end of the gospel as the Christ cf Irenaeus AH iii.10.5) to castrate himself before baptism (the Marcionite practice).

Could someone have connected with karathed messiah of Daniel 9:26 with LGM 1? Again, just a thought not meant in any way to be a 'definitive pronouncement' of the truth.

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