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Bible Commentaries

Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

Daniel 5

Verses 1-31

FROM NEBUCHADNEZZAR TO CYRUS

The effect of the interpretation of his dream on Nebuchadnezzar is the inflation of his pride. To be sure, he was grateful to Daniel (Daniel 2:46-49 ), to whom he offered worship, although the latter rejected it no doubt, as did Paul later (Acts 14:11-18 ). His apprehension of Daniel’s God, however, is yet only as one amongst the national or tribal gods, although greater than they. This is clear from what follows in Daniel 3:1-7 , which is an attempt “to unify the religions of his empire by self-deification.” The tower of Babel (Genesis 11:0 ) was an attempt of the same kind in the same place, and it will be again tried there by the “Beast,” the last head of Gentile world dominion (Daniel 7:8 ; Revelation 13:11-15 ; Revelation 19-20).

Speaking of the “Beast” brings to mind the tribulation Israel shall suffer at his hands; and the three faithful Jews of Daniel 3:8-18 are a type of the faithful remnant in that day which will not bow the knee to him (Isaiah 1:9 ; Romans 11:5 ; Revelation 7:14 ).

“The Son of God” (Daniel 3:25 ) is translated in the RV, “A son of the gods,” and possibly refers to an angel which the king beheld (Psalms 34:7 ) though some apply it to the Second Person of the Trinity (Isaiah 43:2 ). The result of Nebuchadnezzar’s experience in this instance is a further confession of the true God, but still He is only the God of the Hebrews, ruler of angels and the rewarder of them who honor Him. At the conclusion of the next chapter his vision is cleared considerably.

THE KING’S CONFESSION (Daniel 4:0 )

This next chapter is his confession in the nature of a general proclamation (Daniel 4:1 ). The tree he saw in vision (Daniel 4:10 ) symbolized himself grown great in the earth, as God, through Daniel, had foretold. Its hewing down (Daniel 4:14 ) was the punishment coming on him for his pride. The stump left in the earth (Daniel 4:15 ) was his return to power again after the lesson of his humiliation was learned. He became a lunatic, and lived like a beast for seven years (Daniel 4:16 ). The reason for it all is in Daniel 4:17 . Daniel is kind and sympathetic towards him though obliged to speak the awful truth (Daniel 4:19 ). He is faithful also (Daniel 4:27 ), and who can tell what the outcome may have been had the king heeded his warning? In twelve months, however, the stroke fell (Daniel 4:29-33 ). At the end of the experience the king has a different testimony to bear of God (Daniel 4:34-35 ).

PASSING OF BABYLON (Daniel 5:0 )

Many years have elapsed since the events of the last chapter. Nebuchadnezzar is dead and his son-in-law Nabonidus is reigning, with his son (and Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson) Belshazzar as co-regent (Daniel 5:1 ). His name means “Bel protect the king,” while Belteshazzar, the name assigned to Daniel, means “Bel protect his life.” In Daniel 5:2 Nebuchadnezzar is called his father, but there is no discrepancy here, because the Semitic tongues have no equivalent for grandfather or grandson. A corroboration of the position here assigned Belshazzar is found in Daniel 5:7 , where the interpreter of the mysterious handwriting is promised the “third” place in the kingdom Nabonidus being first and Belshazzar himself second.

The queen (Daniel 5:10 ) is probably the aged widow of Nebuchadnezzar and grandmother of the present king, who has not forgotten Daniel, though her offspring and his court seem to have done so in their degeneracy. Like herself, the prophet is now old, perhaps eighty, but as the result shows, God has more service in store for him, and the honor that accompanies it. Note his words and character of his indictment against the king (Daniel 5:17-28 ). And yet the king acts like a king in Daniel 5:29 . In that night the power was wrested from the Babylonians by the Medes and Persians, and the breast and arms of the image had become realized in history.

Darius the Mede (Daniel 5:31 ) is unknown to history by that name outside of this book, and is not to be confounded with the later Darius of Ezra (Daniel 5:5 ). When it says he “took the kingdom,” some think it means that it was taken in his name merely, but really by his general, who was also his relative, Cyrus, who afterward became king, and who is named at the close of chapters 1 and 6.

There is obscurity surrounding this subject on which our space will not permit elaboration.

DANIEL IN THE LION’S DEN (Daniel 6:0 )

Darius had heard of Daniel and his prophecies, and desired to honor him (Daniel 6:1-3 ), but human jealousy is at work (Daniel 6:4-5 ). How does the first word of Daniel 6:7 prove that these rulers told a falsehood to the king? Is not this sin into which he fell practically the same sin committed by Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 3? Was ever faith more beautifully displayed than by God’s aged servant in Daniel 6:10 ? Referring to our last lesson, how does Daniel 6:14 illustrate the inferiority in character of this kingdom over the preceding?

As another says, “Well may we think here of another law and another love.” God’s holy law condemned man, and justly so, yet He found a way to save him (2 Corinthians 5:21 ). An absolute monarchy is what man wants, if only it be a holy monarchy. It was a terrific judgment that fell on Daniel’s accusers, but remember the age in which it occurred, and also that it was not commanded by God, although permitted as a judicial retribution.

Notice in closing, the last verse of the chapter. Do we recall that Isaiah had prophesied of Cyrus between one and two hundred years before his birth (Dan. 6:44-45)? He is the one under whom the Medo-Persian kingdom was consolidated, and who later gave liberty to the Jews to return to Jerusalem at the close of their seventy years’ captivity, as we saw in Ezra (Ezra 1:1-4 ). Doubtless Daniel’s influence had much to do with this.

QUESTIONS

1. How was Nebuchadnezzar affected by his dream?

2. Illustrate his development in the knowledge of the true God.

3. What was the motive or aim of his action in chapter 3?

4. To what event in the end period does this point?

5. Of what is the faithfulness of the three Jews a type?

6. Give the story of chapter 4 in your own words.

7. What was Belshazzar’s relation to Nebuchadnezzar?

8. Who was the real conqueror of Babylon?

9. Quote from memory 2 Corinthians 5:21 .

10. Tell what you know of the story of Cyrus.

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Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Daniel 5". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/daniel-5.html. 1897-1910.