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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 4

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-37

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream and its fulfilment

In the form of a proclamation Nebuchadnezzar records his experience of the power of the Most high God (Daniel 4:1-3). He had a dream which none of his wise men could interpret (Daniel 4:4-7). He then called Daniel, and told him the dream, in which he had seen a lofty and spreading tree, which at the bidding of an angel had been cut down, its stump being bound among the grass for seven ’times’ (Daniel 4:8-18). Daniel explained that the tree was Nebuchadnezzar in his greatness, that he would lose his reason and live a beast’s life for seven years, after which he would be restored to his throne (Daniel 4:19-27). All this has come to pass (Daniel 4:28-33), and Nebuchadnezzar now magnifies the King of heaven who is able to abase the proud (Daniel 4:34-37).

The picture here given of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride is in keeping with the evidence of his own boastful inscriptions. The form of madness attributed to him is not an uncommon one, and is generally known as ’lycanthropy.’ No historical record of such an event in his life has come to light. There is, however, a tradition, quoted by the church historian Eusebius from Abydenus, a Greek writer of the 2nd cent. a.d., which, though quite different as a whole from the story in this c., has one or two points of contact with it.

Teaching. The example of pride brought low which this chapter contains would afford a significant lesson to the Jews under the tyranny of Antiochus. It is suggestive also that the conduct of Antiochus led some to substitute for the title Epiphanes (’the illustrious’) that of Epimanes (’the madman’).

1. People] RV ’peoples.’

2. High] RV ’Most High,’

7. Astrologers] RV ’enchanters.’

8. According to the name of my god] This is merely an assonance, not a strict derivation. The chief god of Nebuchadnezzar was Marduk (Merodach). The word Belteshazzar does not contain the name of the god Bel: see on Daniel 1:7.

9. Master of the magicians] see on Daniel 2:48.

13. A watcher and an holy one] Both terms refer to the same being. The name ’watcher’ is first used for ’angel’ in Daniel, and is common in the later apocalyptic books.

16. In this v. the figure of the tree is dropped. Times] years.

17. Matter] RV ’sentence.’ The angels are represented as entrusted with the power of deciding the destinies of men.

19. One hour] RV ’a while.’

The dream be] i.e. be fulfilled on.

27. If it may be] RV ’if there may be.’

28-33. In these vv. the narrative, which has hitherto been in the terms of Nebuchadnezzar’s proclamation, passes into the third person. The first person is resumed in Daniel 4:34.

30. House of the kingdom] RV ’royal dwelling place.’

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Daniel 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/daniel-4.html. 1909.
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