15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Daniel 2

Verses 1-49

Daniel 2-3

See Keble's lines on 'Monday in Whitsunweek '.

Successive Monarchies

Daniel 2:1-30

Nebuchadnezzar has a dream sent him by God.

I. Strange as the vision had been it had left no clear impression upon his mind, but only a vague sense of great terror. He sent for the wise men of the kingdom, but for such a dilemma their art provided them with no expedient. The king threatens them and their families with death unless they make known to him his dream as well as its interpretation.

II. The king commands that all the wise men of Babylon shall be put to death. Among these were Daniel and his companions. Daniel lost neither his faith nor his presence of mind. He is taken into the king's presence, and time is granted him, and a respite for the rest, upon his promising to show the king on the day following his dream and its interpretation.

III. Daniel goes then to some apartment in the college at Babylon occupied by him in common with the wise men, and asks others to join him in prayer. They prayed 'concerning the secret' and 'then was the secret revealed to Daniel in a night vision'.

IV. And now, in full possession of the secret, Daniel goes to Arioch and demands an immediate audience of the king. It is a grand and noble speech which Daniel addresses to the king. He claims no special skill; no illumination from any earthly source, that has taught him what had troubled the king upon his bed in night vision. It was a higher power that had sent the vision, and its object was to reveal what shall be in the latter days.

R. Payne Smith, Daniel, p. 37.

References. II. 3. Bishop Boyd Carpenter, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi. p. 8. II. 3-5. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii. p. 183. II. 21. R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, p. 37.

After That, the Dark

Daniel 2:22

When the Bible tells us that God knows a thing we have to widen the thought of knowledge a good deal. So much of our knowledge is merely speculative, not vitally linked with life and character, that we are apt to forget that all God's thought and love really lie latent in what He knows.

I. He knoweth what is in the darkness of the heart. In the most ordinary life are deeps you cannot fathom. In your own heart is a darkness that you never penetrated. If we could only see into the gloom as God sees we should not surprise each other as we do. We are all far more mysterious than we know. The roots of our best and our worst are in the darkness. It is that that makes a man lean hard on God, and say He knows what is in the darkness. Now no man can doubt God's knowledge of that realm who will seriously read the life of Jesus Christ. Few things arrest us more in that high story than how Jesus explained men and women to themselves. It was the witness and proof upon the stage of history that He knoweth what is in the darkness of the heart.

The thought has a twofold bearing upon practice,

a. It is first a great comfort when we are misunderstood.

b. It is a caution against judging others.

II. He knoweth what is in the darkness of the lot. Now if there is one thing on earth it is hard to understand, it is the meaning and the content of life's darkness. There is an element of surprise in all affliction. And it is then, finding that flesh is vain, and turning full-faced to the Eternal God, we hear the exquisite music of our text, 'He knoweth what is in the darkness'.

III. He knoweth what is in the darkness of the future. I think we are all agreed that it is a very merciful provision that God has hidden the tomorrow from us. Of course to a certain limited extent we do see into the darkness of tomorrow. We live in a world of most inflexible law, and as a man soweth, so also shall he reap. But after all it is a limited vision. The fact remains that in His infinite pity we are shielded and safeguarded by our ignorance; and the quiet thinker will waken every morning saying to his own heart 'God knows'.

G. H. Morrison, Sun-Rise, p. 133.

Daniel 2:33

I am not one who in the least doubts or disputes the progress of this century in many things useful to mankind; but it seems to me a very dark sign respecting us that we look with so much indifference upon dishonesty and cruelty in the pursuit of wealth. In the dream of Nebuchadnezzar it was only the feet that were part of iron and part of clay; but many of us are now getting so cruel in our avarice, that it seems as if, in us the heart were part of iron, part of clay.

Ruskin in The Two Paths.

Ik Nebuchadnezzar's image, the lower the members, the coarser the metal; the further off the time, the more unfit. Today is the golden opportunity, tomorrow will be the silver season, next day but the brazen one, and so long till at last I shall come to the toes of clay, and be turned to dust. Grant therefore that Today I may hear Thy voice And if this day be obscure in the calendar, and remarkable in itself for nothing else, give me to make it memorable in my soul, thereupon, by Thy assistance, beginning the reformation of my life.

Thomas Fuller.

The Kingdom of the Saints

Daniel 2:35

Even one poor coincidence in the history of Rome, viz. of the anticipated and the actual duration of its greatness, does not fail to arrest our attention. We know that even before the Christian era it was the opinion of the Roman augurs, that the twelve vultures which Romulus had seen previous to the foundation of the city, represented the twelve centuries, assigned as the limit of its power; an anticipation which was singularly fulfilled by the event. Yet what is this solitary fact to the series of varied and circumstantial prophecies which ushered in, and were fulfilled in Christianity? Extend the twelve centuries of Roman dominion to an additional half of that period, preserve its monarchical form inviolate, whether from aristocratic or popular innovation, from first to last, and trace back the predictions concerning it, through an antecedent period, nearly of the same duration, and then you will have assimilated its history not altogether, but in one or two of its features to the characteristics of the Gospel Dispensation. As it is, this Roman wonder only serves to assist the imagination in embracing the marvellousness of those systematic prophecies concerning Christ's kingdom, which, from their number, variety, succession, and contemporary influence, may almost be accounted in themselves, and without reference to their fulfilment, a complete and independent dispensation.

J. H. Newman.

Reference. II. 36-49. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Daniel, p. 48.

Daniel 2:40

Let's have no more dominant races; we don't want them; they only turn men into insolent brutes.


Daniel 2:42-43

There be also two false Peaces, or Unities; the one, when the Peace is grounded, but upon an implicit ignorance; For all Colours will agree in the Darke. The other, when it is peeced up, upon a direct Admission of Contraries, in Fundamentall Points. For Truth and Falsehood, in such things, are like the Iron and Clay in the toes of Nebuchadnezzar's Image; They may Cleave, but they will not Incorporate.


The image that appeared to King Nebuchadnezzar in a dream was made of gold, of silver, of iron, and of clay. The idol of this world differs from that seen by the Babylonian monarch; for it is all gold pure gold and does not even possess the humanity of clay.

Sir Arthur Helps.

Reference. II. 44. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i. p. 44.

Daniel 2:45

Christ's religion was not a mere creed or philosophy. A creed or a philosophy need not have interfered with kingdoms of this world, but might have existed under the Roman Empire, or under the Persian. No; Christ's kingdom was a counter kingdom. It occupied ground; it claimed to rule over those whom hitherto this world's governments ruled over without rival; and if this world's governments would not themselves acknowledge and submit to its rule, and rule under and according to its laws, it 'broke in pieces' those governments.


Daniel 2:49

When Omar Khayyám was a pupil of the Imám Howaffah at Naishapur, he struck up a friendship with two other pupils who were of his own age, Hasam and Nizam. One day they made a covenant and pledge with one another that whoever should gain a high position, should share his good fortune with his less favoured companions. The vow, it seems, was kept Nizam became vizier, and did not forget his friends, both of whom received from him or through him what they desired.

Daniel 2:49

Before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mud; and He who is mighty came, and in His own mercy raised me, and lifted me up, and placed me on the top of the wall.... And me who am detested by this world He has inspired beyond others (if indeed I be such), but on condition that with fear and reverence, and without complaining, I should faithfully serve the nation to which the love of Christ has transferred me.

St. Patrick's Confessions.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Daniel 2". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.