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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Daniel 2

Verses 1-49

Nebuchandezzar’s Dream-Image

Nebuchadnezzar in his second year had a dream, which he required the wise men of his court to describe and interpret on pain of death. They said this was beyond their power, but professed their readiness to explain the dream if the king would tell them its nature. Nebuchadnezzar persisted in his first demand, and as the wise men could not satisfy him he gave orders that they should be slain (Daniel 2:1-13). Daniel, however, interposed and asked that the execution of the penalty should be delayed. In answer to his prayers and those of his three companions God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel, who gave thanks and praise for this favour (Daniel 2:14-23). Daniel was then brought before Nebuchadnezzar, and after explaining the true source of his knowledge proceeded to describe and interpret the dream (Daniel 2:24-31). What Nebuchadnezzar had seen was a great image with a head of gold, a breast and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet of iron mingled with clay. A stone fell on the feet and broke them in pieces, and the whole image crumbled into fragments, and was carried away by the wind. The stone then became a great mountain, which filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:31-35). The head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar’s empire (Daniel 2:36-38). The parts of the image made of silver, brass, and iron represented three other kingdoms that should arise, with characteristics corresponding to their various materials (Daniel 2:39-43). In the days of the last of these God would set up a universal and everlasting kingdom (Daniel 2:44-45). On hearing the interpretation of the dream Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the greatness of the true God, and made Daniel governor of the province of Babylon, and chief of the wise men (Daniel 2:46-48). At Daniel’s request his three companions also received posts of honour and authority (Daniel 2:49).

Teaching. On any interpretation of this chapter its central truth lies in the prophecy of the divine kingdom, which is to supersede all human empires—a prophecy which in NT. times is receiving an ever-increasing fulfilment. The reasons for regarding the fourth kingdom as the Greek empire have been given in the Intro. The first three are usually taken to be the Babylonian, the Median (represented by ’Darius the Mede,’ whom the writer of Daniel places before Cyrus), and the Persian. Another interpretation supposes that Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar were the only Babylonian kings known to the author (see on 57), and makes the first two kingdoms to be those of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, followed by the Medo-Persian empire as the third.

1. The second year] seems inconsistent with the statement in Daniel 1:5, that Daniel and his companions were under training during three years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. But it appears from the monuments that the Babylonian kings counted the year after their accession as their first year. The ’second’ year might therefore be really the third, while the ’three’ years of Daniel 1:5 might include, by another mode of reckoning, the year of accession, the following year, and part of the next. The ’three’ years might, therefore, be over before the end of the ’second’ year.

2. Sorcerers] another class of wise men. Astrologers.. Chaldeans] see on Daniel 1:4, Daniel 1:20.

3. Was troubled] RV ’is troubled.’

4. In Syriack] RM ’in Aramaic’ The Aramaic portion of the book begins with the words ’O king.’ The phrase ’in Aramaic’ should probably be regarded as a parenthesis indicating that at ’this point a change of language takes place: see Intro.

5. The thing is gone] RM ’the word is gone forth.’ Nebuchadnezzar had not actually forgotten the dream, but he was resolved to test the wise men’s power by insisting that they should describe as well as interpret it: so in Daniel 2:8.

Made a dunghill] cp. Ezra 6:11.

8. Gain the time] RV ’gain time.’

9. Till the time be changed] till something should divert the king’s purpose.

10. Therefore there is] RV ’forasmuch as.’

14. Arioch] Eri-Aku, ’servant of Aku,’ an old Babylonian name (Genesis 14:1).

16. Give him time] RV ’appoint him a time.’ Daniel’s request was very different from the temporising of the wise men in Daniel 2:9.

27. Soothsayers] still another class of Babylonian wise men.

28. Maketh known] RV ’he hath made known’: so in Daniel 2:29.

29.The dream was an answer to Nebuchadnezzar’s waking thoughts.

30. For their sakes that shall make known the interpretation] RV ’to the intent that the interpretation may be made known.’

38. Thou art this (RV ’the’) head of gold] The golden head may be identified either with the Babylonian empire which Nebuchadnezzar represented, or with Nebuchadnezzar personally. The latter is the more natural interpretation.

39. Another kingdom inferior] either the Median rule of Darius, which the writer of Daniel mistakenly supposed to come before that of Cyrus the Persian (see on Daniel 8:20), or the kingdom of Belshazzar, who is contrasted with Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 5. Another third kingdom] either the Persian empire, beginning with Cyrus, or the Medo-Persian empire, which is represented by a single animal (the ram) in Daniel 8.

40. The fourth kingdom] is the Greek empire, founded by the conquests of Alexander the Great.

41. The feet and toes] represent Alexander’s empire as broken up after his death. Miry clay] RM ’earthenware.’ There were elements both of strength and weakness in the rival kingdoms of the Seleucidæ and Ptolemies.

43. They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men] referring to the royal marriages by which these kingdoms sought to establish alliance: see Daniel 11:6, Daniel 11:17.

44.The Messianic kingdom of God will overpower and succeed the kingdoms of Syria and Egypt. And the kingdom.. other people] RV ’nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people.’ The Messianic kingdom will be in the hands, not of foreigners, but of the Jews. Both the national limitation and the foreshortening of view in this v. are characteristic of OT. prophecy, and do not affect the value of the central truth which is taught.

45. The dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure] Note the absoluteness of the prediction, so unlike the conditional utterances of the prophets in general: see Intro.

46.Nebuchadnezzar worshipped Daniel, but it is plain that, though Daniel is not said to have prevented him, the king really meant to give the glory to God.

47. Of a truth, etc.] RV ’of a truth your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings.’ On the view that this narrative is literal history it is difficult to account for Nebuchadnezzar’s conduct in Daniel 3.

48. Chief of the governors] RV ’chief governor.’

49. Sat] RV ’was.’ In the gate of the king] RM ’at the king’s court’: see Esther 2:19, Esther 2:21; Esther 3:2.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Daniel 2". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.