And I saw in a vision,.... The following things:
and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; not in reality, but so it seemed to him in the vision; as Ezekiel, when in Babylon, seemed in the visions of God to be at Jerusalem, Ezekiel 8:3. This city Shushan, or Susa, as it is called by other writers, and signifies a "lily", was so called from the plenty of lilies that grew about it, or because of the pleasantness of it; it was the metropolis of the country Susiana, which had its name from it, and was afterwards the royal seat of the kings of Persia. This was first made so by Cyrus; for StraboF1Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. says, that he and the Persians having overcome the Medes, observing that their own country was situated in the extreme parts, and Susa more inward, and nearer to other nations, being, as he says, between Persia and Babylon, set his royal palace in it; approving both the nearness of the country, and the dignity of the city. Here the kings of Persia laid up their treasures, even prodigious large ones; hence Aristagoras told Cleomenes, that if he could take that city, he would vie, and might contend, with Jupiter for richesF2Herodoti Terpsichore, sive l. 5. c. 48. ; for hither Cyrus carried whatever money he had in Persia, even forty thousand talents, some say fiftyF3Strabo. ib. p. 502. . AlexanderF4Curtius, l. 5. c. 2. Plutarch. in Vita Alexandri, Diador. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 17. p. 540. , when he took this city, found a vast quantity of riches in it. It is called here a palace; and so it is spoken of by HerodotusF5Terpsichore, sive l. 5. sect. 48. , Diodorus SiculusF6Bibliothec. l. 17. p. 539. , PausaniusF7Laconice, sive l. 3. p. 175. , PlinyF8Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27. , and others, as a royal city, where were the residence and palace of the kings of Persia; but the royal palace was not in it at this time; the kings of Babylon had their palace and kept their court at Babylon, where Daniel was; but in vision it seemed to him that he was in Shushan, and which was represented to him as a palace, as it would be, and as the metropolis of the kingdom of Persia, which he had a view of in its future flourishing condition, and as destroyed by Alexander; for, as before observed, it was Cyrus that first made it a royal city; whereas this vision was in the third year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon. Some versions render it, a "tower" or "castle"; and so several writers, as StraboF9Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. PlutarchF11In Vita Alexandri. and PlinyF12Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27.) , speak of the tower or castle in it. Diodorus SiculusF13Bibliothec. l. 17. p. 540. says, when Antigonus took the tower of Susa, he found in it a golden vine, and a great quantity of other works, to the value of fifteen thousand talents; and out of crowns, and other gifts and spoils, he made up five thousand more. And PolybiusF14Hist. l. 5. p. 249. relates, that though Molon took the city, yet could not take the fortress, and was obliged to raise the siege, so strong it was. It must be a mistake of PlinyF15Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27.) that this city was built by Darius Hystaspes; he could only mean it was rebuilt, or rather enlarged, by him, since it was in being long before his time, and even a royal city in the times of Cyrus. StraboF16Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. says it was built by Tithon the father of Merenon, was in compass a fifteen miles, of an oblong figure, and the tower was called after his father's name Mernnonia; and Shushan itself is called, by HerodotusF17Polymnia, sive l. 7. c. 151. , Susa Memnonia. At this day, with the common people, it goes by the name of TusterF18Hiller. Onomastic. Sacr. p. 658, 935. . The east gate of the mountain of the house, which led to the temple at Jerusalem, was called Shushan. Some sayF19Jarchi & Bartenora in Misn. Celim, c. 17. sect. 9. there was a building over this gate, on which the palace of Shushan was portrayed, from whence it had its name. The reason of this portrait is differently given; the Jewish commentators on the MisnahF20Maimon & Bartenora in Misn. Kelim, c. 17. sect. 9. & Middot, c. 1. sect. 3. commonly say that this was ordered by the kings of Persia, that the people of Israel might stand in awe of them, and not rebel against them. Their famous lexicographerF21R. Nathan, Sepher Aruch in voce ששן, fol. 160. 3. says, that this was done, that the Israelites, when they saw it, might remember their captivity in it. But a chronologerF23R. Abraham Zacuth, Sepher Juchasin, fol. 65. 2. of theirs gives this as the reason, that the children of the captivity made this figure, that they might remember the miracle of Purim, which was made in Shushan; and this, he says, is a good interpretation of it. This city was in the province of Elam; that is, Persia, as it is also called, Isaiah 21:6 for JosephusF24Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4. says the Persians had their original from the Elamites, or Elameans; and PlinyF25Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27. observes, that Elymais joined to Persia; and the country of Susiane, so called from Susa its chief city, was, according to StraboF26Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. (a1) Geograph. l. 6. c. 3. (b1) Geograph. p. 501, 505. (c1) Ut supra, (Nat. Hist.) l. 6. c. 23, 27. (d1) Geograph. l. 6. c. 3. (e1) Ut supra, (Geograph.) p. 505. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27. (f1) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 188. Terpsichore, sive l. 5. c. 49, 52. (g1) Ut supra. (Curtius, l. 5. c. 2.) (h1) Geograph. l. 15. p. 501. (i1) Travels, part 2. B. 3. c. 9. p. 153. (k1) See the Universal History, vol. 5. p. 124. (l1) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 7. and Ptolemy (a1), a part of Persia: and here Daniel in vision thought himself to be; and a very suitable place for him to have this vision in, which so much concerned the affairs of Persia.
And I saw in a vision, and I was by the river Ulai; that is, in vision; it seemed to the prophet that he was upon the banks of the river Ulai; the same with the Eulaeus of Strabo (b1), Pliny (c1), Ptolemy (d1), and others, which ran by, and surrounded, the city of Shushan, or Susa; the water of which was so light, as Strabo (e1) observes, that it was had in great request, and the kings of Persia would drink of no other, and carried it with them wherever they went. Herodotus (f1) and Curtius (g1) make mention of the river Choaspes, as running by Susa, and say the same things of its water; from whence it might be concluded it was one and the same river, called by different names; though Strabo takes notice of them together, as if they were distinct; yet he, from Polycletus (h1), makes them, with Tigris, to disembogue into the same lake, and from thence into the sea. The river which runs by Shushan, now called Souster, according to Monsieur Thevenot (i1), is Caron, and comes from the hills about it, and is thought to be the Choaspes of the ancients; near to which, as he was told, is a hill that now goes by the name of Choasp; so that, upon the whole, they seem to be one and the same river (k1). Josephus says (l1), that Daniel had this vision in the plain of Susa, the metropolis of Persia, as he went out with his friends, that is, out of the city: and the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "by the gate Ulai"; a gate of the city of Shushan so called: and so Saadiah Gaon interprets it a gate; but the former sense is best.