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Part First - The Development of the World-Power - Daniel 2-7
This Part contains in six chapters as many reports regarding the successive forms and the natural character of the world-power. It begins (Daniel 2) and ends (Daniel 7) with a revelation from God regarding its historical unfolding in four great world-kingdoms following each other, and their final overthrow by the kingdom of God, which shall continue for ever. Between these chapters (Daniel 2 and 7) there are inserted four events belonging to the times of the first and second world-kingdom, which partly reveal the attempts of the rulers of the world to compel the worshippers of the true God to pray to their idols and their gods, together with the failure of this attempt (Daniel 3 and 6), and partly the humiliations of the rulers of the world, who were boastful of their power, under the judgments of God (Daniel 4 and 5), and bring under our consideration the relation of the rulers of this world to the Almighty God of heaven and earth and to the true fearers of His name. The narratives of these four events follow each other in chronological order, because they are in actual relation bound together, and therefore also the occurrences (Daniel 5 and 6) which belong to the time subsequent to the vision in Daniel 7 are placed before his vision, so that the two revelations regarding the development of the world-power form the frame within which is contained the historical section which describes the character of that world-power.
Nebuchadnezzar's Vision of the World-Monarchies, and Its Interpretation by Daniel - Daniel 2
When Daniel and his three friends, after the completion of their education, had entered on the service of the Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream which so greatly moved him, that he called all the wise men of Babylon that they might make known to him the dream and give the interpretation of it; and when they were not able to do this, he gave forth the command (Daniel 2:1-13) that they should all be destroyed. But Daniel interceded with the king and obtained a respite, at the expiry of which he promised (Daniel 2:14-18) to comply with his demand. In answer to his prayers and those of his friends, God revealed the secret to Daniel in a vision (Daniel 2:19-23), so that he was not only able to tell the king his dream (Daniel 2:24-36), but also to give him its interpretation (Daniel 2:37-45); whereupon Nebuchadnezzar praised the God of Daniel as the true God, and raised him to high honours and dignities (vv. 46-49). It has justly been regarded as a significant thing, that it was Nebuchadnezzar, the founder of the world-power, who first saw in a dream the whole future development of the world-power. “The world-power,” as Auberlen properly remarks, “must itself learn in its first representative, who had put an end to the kingdom of God the theocracy, what its own final destiny would be, that, in its turn overthrown, it would be for ever subject to the kingdom of God.” This circumstance also is worthy of notice, that Nebuchadnezzar did not himself understand the revelation which he received, but the prophet Daniel, enlightened by God, must interpret it to him.
(Note: According to Bleek, Lengerke, Hitz., Ew., and others, the whole narrative is to be regarded as a pure invention, as to its plan formed in imitation of the several statements of the narrative in Gen 41 of Pharaoh's dream and its interpretation by Joseph the Hebrew, when the Egyptian wise men were unable to do so. Nebuchadnezzar is the copy of Pharaoh, and at the same time the type of Antiochus Epiphanes, who was certainly a half-mad despot, as Nebuchadnezzar is here described to be, although he was not so in reality. But the resemblance between Pharaoh's dream and that of Nebuchadnezzar consists only in that (1) both kings had significant dreams which their won wise men could not interpret to them, but which were interpreted by Israelites by the help of God; (2) Joseph and Daniel in a similar manner, but not in the same words, directed the kings to God (cf. Genesis 41:16; Daniel 2:27-28); and (3) that in both narratives the word פּעם [ was disquieted ] is used (Genesis 41:8; Daniel 2:1, Daniel 2:3). In all other respects the narratives are entirely different. But “ the resemblance,” as Hengst. has already well remarked ( Beitr. i. p. 82), “is explained partly from the great significance which in ancient times was universally attached to dreams and their interpretation, partly from the dispensations of divine providence, which at different times has made use of this means for the deliverance of the chosen people.” In addition to this, Kran., p. 70, has not less appropriately said: “But that only one belonging to the people of God should in both cases have had communicated to him the interpretation of the dream, is not more to be wondered at than that there is a true God who morally and spiritually supports and raises those who know and acknowledge Him, according to psychological laws, even in a peculiar way.” Moreover, if the word פצם was really borrowed from Genesis 41:8, that would prove nothing more than that Daniel had read the books of Moses. But the grounds on which the above-named critics wish to prove the unhistorical character of this narrative are formed partly from a superficial consideration of the whole narrative and a manifestly false interpretation of separate parts of it, and partly from the dogmatic prejudice that “a particular foretelling of a remote future is not the nature of Hebrew prophecy,” i.e., in other words, that there is no prediction arising from a supernatural revelation. Against the other grounds Kran. has already very truly remarked: “That the narrative of the actual circumstances wants (cf. Hitz. p. 17) proportion and unity, is not corroborated by a just view of the situation; the whole statement rather leaves the impression of a lively, fresh immediateness, in which a careful consideration of the circumstances easily furnishes the means for filling up the details of the brief sketch.” Hence it follows that the contents of the dream show not the least resemblance to Pharaoh's dream, and in the whole story there is no trace seen of a hostile relation of Nebuchadnezzar and his courtiers to Judaism; nay rather Nebuchadnezzar' relation to the God of Daniel presents a decided contrast to the mad rage of Antiochus Epiphanes against the Jewish religion.)
The dream of Nebuchadnezzar and the inability of the Chaldean wise men to interpret it. - By the ו copulative standing at the commencement of this chapter the following narrative is connected with c. Daniel 1:21. “ We shall now discover what the youthful Daniel became, and what he continued to be to the end of the exile” (Klief.). The plur. חלמות (dreams, Daniel 2:1 and Daniel 2:2), the singular of which occurs in Daniel 2:3, is not the plur. of definite universality (Häv., Maur., Klief.), but of intensive fulness, implying that the dream in its parts contained a plurality of subjects. M('p@ft;hi (from פּעם , to thrust, to stroke, as פּעם , an anvil, teaches, to be tossed hither and thither) marks great internal disquietude. In Daniel 2:3 and in Genesis 41:8, as in Psalms 77:5, it is in the Niphal form, but in Daniel 2:1 it is in Hithp., on which Kran. finely remarks: “The Hithpael heightens the conception of internal unquiet lying in the Niphal to the idea that it makes itself outwardly manifest.” His sleep was gone. This is evidenced without doubt by the last clause of Daniel 2:1, עליו נהיתה . These interpretations are altogether wrong: - ”His sleep came upon him, i.e., he began again to sleep” (Calvin); or “his sleep was against him,” i.e., was an aversion to him, was troublesome (L. de Dieu); or, as Häv. also interprets it, “his sleep offended him, or was like a burden heavy upon him;” for נהיה does not mean to fall, and thus does not agree with the thought expressed. The Niph. נהיה means to have become, been, happened. The meaning has already been rightly expressed by Theodoret in the words ἐγένετο ἀπ ̓αὐτου , and in the Vulgate by the words “ fugit ab illo ;” and Berth., Ges., and others have with equal propriety remarked, that נהיתה שׁנתו corresponds in meaning with נדּת שׁנתּהּ , Daniel 6:19 (18), and שׁנת נדדה , Esther 6:1. This sense, to have been, however, does not conduct to the meaning given by Klief.: his sleep had been upon him; it was therefore no more, it had gone; for “to have been” is not “to be no more,” but “to be finished,” past, gone. This meaning is confirmed by נהייתי , Daniel 8:27: it was done with me, I was gone. The עליו stands not for the dative, but retains the meaning, over, upon, expressing the influence on the mind, as e.g., Jeremiah 8:18, Hosea 11:8, Psalms 42:6-7, 12; Psalms 43:5, etc., which in German we express by the word bei or für .
The reason of so great disquietude we may not seek in the circumstance that on awaking he could not remember the dream. This follows neither from Daniel 2:3, nor is it psychologically probable that so impressive a dream, which on awaking he had forgotten, should have yet sorely disquieted his spirit during his waking hours. “The disquiet was created in him, as in Pharaoh (Gen 41), by the specially striking incidents of the dream, and the fearful, alarming apprehensions with reference to his future fate connected therewith” (Kran.).
In the disquietude of his spirit the king commanded all his astrologers and wise men to come to him, four classes of whom are mentioned in this verse. 1. The חרטמּים , who were found also in Egypt (Genesis 41:24). They are so named from חרט , a “stylus” - those who went about with the stylus, the priestly class of the ἱερογραμματεῖς , those learned in the sacred writings and in literature. 2. The אשּׁפים , conjurers, from שׁאף or נשׁף , to breathe, to blow, to whisper; for they practised their incantations by movements of the breath, as is shown by the Arabic nft, flavit ut praestigiator in nexos a se nodos, incantavit , with which it is compared by Hitz. and Kran. 3. The מכשּׁפים , magicians, found also in Egypt (Exodus 7:11), and, according to Isaiah 47:9, Isaiah 47:12, a powerful body in Babylon. 4. The כּשׂדּים , the priest caste of the Chaldeans, who are named, Daniel 2:4, Daniel 2:10, and Daniel 1:4, instar omnium as the most distinguished class among the Babylonian wise men. According to Herod. i. 171, and Diod. Sic. ii. 24, the Chaldeans appear to have formed the priesthood in a special sense, or to have attended to the duties specially devolving on the priests. This circumstance, that amongst an Aramaic people the priests in a stricter sense were called Chaldeans, is explained, as at p. 78, from the fact of the ancient supremacy of the Chaldean people in Babylonia.
Besides these four classes there is also a fifth, Daniel 2:27; Daniel 4:4 (Daniel 4:7), Daniel 5:7, Daniel 5:11, called the גּזרין , the astrologers, not haruspices, from גּזר , “to cut flesh to pieces,” but the determiners of the גּזרה , the fatum or the fata, who announced events by the appearances of the heavens (cf. Isaiah 47:13), the forecasters of nativities, horoscopes, who determined the fate of men from the position and the movement of the stars at the time of their birth. These different classes of the priests and the learned are comprehended, Daniel 2:12., under the general designation of חכּימין (cf. also Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 50:35), and they formed a σύστημα , i.e., collegium (Diod. Sic. ii. 31), under a president ( סגנין רב , Daniel 2:48), who occupied a high place in the state; see at Daniel 2:48. These separate classes busied themselves, without doubt, with distinct branches of the Babylonian wisdom. While each class cultivated a separate department, yet it was not exclusively, but in such a manner that the activities of the several classes intermingled in many ways. This is clearly seen from what is said of Daniel and his companions, that they were trained in all the wisdom of the Chaldeans (Daniel 1:17), and is confirmed by the testimony of Diod. Sic. (ii. 29), that the Chaldeans, who held almost the same place in the state that the priests in Egypt did, while applying themselves to the service of the gods, sought their greatest glory in the study of astrology, and also devoted themselves much to prophecy, foretelling future things, and by means of lustrations, sacrifices, and incantations seeking to turn away evil and to secure that which was good. They possessed the knowledge of divination from omens, of expounding of dreams and prodigies, and of skilfully casting horoscopes.
That he might receive an explanation of his dream, Nebuchadnezzar commanded all the classes of the priests and men skilled in wisdom to be brought before him, because in an event which was to him so weighty he must not only ascertain the facts of the case, but should the dream announce some misfortune, he must also adopt the means for averting it. In order that the correctness of the explanation of the dream might be ascertained, the stars must be examined, and perhaps other means of divination must be resorted to. The proper priests could by means of sacrifices make the gods favourable, and the conjurers and magicians by their arts endeavour to avert the threatened misfortune.
As to the king's demand, it is uncertain whether he wished to know the dream itself or its import. The wise men (Daniel 2:4) understood his words as if he desired only to know the meaning of it; but the king replied (Daniel 2:5.) that they must tell him both the dream and its interpretation. But this request on the part of the king does not quite prove that he had forgotten the dream, as Bleek, v. Leng., and others maintain, founding thereon the objection against the historical veracity of the narrative, that Nebuchadnezzar's demand that the dream should be told to him was madness, and that there was no sufficient reason for his rage (Daniel 2:12). On the contrary, that the king had not forgotten his dream, and that there remained only some oppressive recollection that he had dreamed, is made clear from Daniel 2:9, where the king says to the Chaldeans, “If ye cannot declare to me the dream, ye have taken in hand to utter deceitful words before me; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that ye will give to me also the interpretation.” According to this, Nebuchadnezzar wished to hear the dream from the wise men that he might thus have a guarantee for the correctness of the interpretation which they might give. He could not thus have spoken to them if he had wholly forgotten the dream, and had only a dark apprehension remaining in his mind that he had dreamed. In this case he would neither have offered a great reward for the announcement of the dream, nor have threatened severe punishment, or even death, for failure in announcing it. For then he would only have given the Chaldeans the opportunity, at the cost of truth, of declaring any dream with an interpretation. But as threatening and promise on the part of the king in that case would have been unwise, so also on the side of the wise men their helplessness in complying with the demand of the king would have been incomprehensible. If the king had truly forgotten the dream, they had no reason to be afraid of their lives if they had given some self-conceived dream with an interpretation of it; for in that case he could not have accused them of falsehood and deceit, and punished them on that account. If, on the contrary, he still knew the dream which so troubled him, and the contents of which he desired to hear from the Chaldeans, so that he might put them to the proof whether he might trust in their interpretation, then neither his demand nor the severity of his proceeding was irrational. “The magi boasted that by the help of the gods they could reveal deep and hidden things. If this pretence is well founded - so concluded Nebuchadnezzar - then it must be as easy for them to make known to me my dream as its interpretation; and since they could not do the former, he as rightly held them to be deceivers, as the people did the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18) because their gods answered not by fire.” Hengst.
The Chaldeans, as speaking for the whole company, understand the word of the king in the sense most favourable for themselves, and they ask the king to tell them the dream. וידבּרוּ for ויּאמרוּ , which as a rule stands before a quotation, is occasioned by the addition of ארמית , and the words which follow are zeugmatically joined to it. Aramaic, i.e., in the native language of Babylonia, where, according to Xenoph. ( Cyrop. vii. 5), the Syriac, i.e., the Eastern Aramaic dialect, was spoken. From the statement here, that the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, one must not certainly conclude that Nebuchadnezzar spoke the Aryan-Chaldaic language of his race. The remark refers to the circumstance that the following words are recorded in the Aramaic, as Ezra 4:7. Daniel wrote this and the following chapters in Aramaic, that he might give the prophecy regarding the world-power in the language of the world-power, which under the Chaldean dynasty was native in Babylon, the Eastern Aramaic. The formula, “O king, live for ever,” was the usual salutation when the king was addressed, both at the Chaldean and the Persian court (cf. Daniel 3:9; Daniel 5:10; Daniel 6:7, Daniel 6:22 [6, 21]; Nehemiah 2:3). In regard to the Persian court, see Aelian, var. hist. i. 32. With the kings of Israel this form of salutation was but rarely used: 1 Samuel 10:24; 1 Kings 1:31. The Kethiv (text) לעבדיך , with Jod before the suffix, supposes an original form לעבדיך here, as at Daniel 2:26; Daniel 4:16, Daniel 4:22, but it is perhaps only the etymological mode of writing for the form with ā long, analogous to the Hebr. suffix form עיו for עו , since the Jod is often wanting; cf. Daniel 4:24; Daniel 5:10, etc. A form ־איא lies at the foundation of the form כשׂדּיא ; the Keri (margin) substitutes the usual Chaldee form כשׂדּאי from כּשׂדּאא , with the insertion of the litera quiescib . י , homog. to the quies. ē , while in the Kethiv the original Jod of the sing. כּשׂדּי is retained instead of the substituted , א thus כשׂדּיא . This reading is perfectly warranted (cf. Daniel 3:2, Daniel 3:8, Daniel 3:24; Ezra 4:12-13) by the analogous method of formation of the stat. emphat. plur. in existing nouns in ־י in biblical Chaldee.
The meaning of the king's answer shapes itself differently according to the different explanations given of the words אזדּא מנּי מלּתה . The word אזדּא drow eh , which occurs only again in the same phrase in Daniel 2:8, is regarded, in accordance with the translations of Theodot., ὁ λόγος ἀπ ̓ἐμοῦ ἀπέστη , and of the Vulg., “ sermo recessit a me ,” as a verb, and as of like meaning with עזל , “to go away or depart,” and is therefore rendered by M. Geier, Berth., and others in the sense, “the dream has escaped from me;” but Ges. Häv., and many older interpreters translate it, on the contrary, “the command is gone out from me.” But without taking into account that the punctuation of the word אזדּא is not at all that of a verb, for this form can neither be a particip. nor the 3rd pers. pret. fem., no acknowledgment of the dream's having escaped from him is made; for such a statement would contradict what was said at Daniel 2:3, and would not altogether agree with the statement of Daniel 2:8. מלּתה is not the dream. Besides, the supposition that אזד is equivalent to אזל , to go away, depart, is not tenable. The change of the ל into ד is extremely rare in the Semitic, and is not to be assumed in the word אזל , since Daniel himself uses אזל אזל , Daniel 2:17, Daniel 2:24; Daniel 6:19-20, and also Ezra; Ezra 4:23; Ezra 5:8, Ezra 5:15. Moreover אזל has not the meaning of יצא , to go out, to take one's departure, but corresponds with the Hebr. הלך .rbe , to go. Therefore Winer, Hengst., Ibn Esr. Aben Ezra, Saad., and other rabbis interpret the word as meaning firmus : “the word stands firm;” cf. Daniel 6:13 (12), מלּתא יצּיבה (“the thing is true”). This interpretation is justified by the actual import of the words, as it also agrees with Daniel 2:8; but it does not accord with Daniel 2:5. Here (in Daniel 2:5) the declaration of the certainty of the king's word was superfluous, because all the royal commands were unchangeable. For this reason also the meaning σπουδαιῶς , studiously, earnestly, as Hitz., by a fanciful reference to the Persian, whence he has derived it, has explained it, is to be rejected. Much more satisfactory is the derivation from the Old Persian word found on inscriptions, âzanda , “science,” “that which is known,” given by Delitzsch (Herz.'s Realenc. iii. p. 274), and adopted by Kran. and Klief.
The rigorous severity of this edict accords with the character of Oriental despots and of Nebuchadnezzar, particularly in his dealings with the Jews (2 Kings 25:7, 2 Kings 25:18.; Jeremiah 39:6., Jeremiah 52:10., 24-27). In the promise of rewards the explanation of נבזבּה (in the plural נבזבּין , Daniel 5:17) is disputed; its rendering by “money,” “gold” (by Eichh. and Berth.), has been long ago abandoned as incorrect. The meaning gift, present, is agreeable to the context and to the ancient versions; but its derivation formed from the Chald. בזבז , Pealp. of בּזז , erogavit, expendit , by the substitution of נ for מ and the excision of the second ז from מבזבּזה , in the meaning largitio amplior , the Jod in the plural form being explained from the affinity of verbs ע ע and ל ה (Ges. Thes. p. 842, and Kran.), is highly improbable. The derivation from the Persian nuvâzan , nuvâzisch , to caress, to flatter, then to make a present to (P. v. Bohlen), or from the Sanscr. namas , present, gift (Hitz.), or from the Vedish bag̀ , to give, to distribute, and the related New Persian bâj ( bash), a present (Haug), are also very questionable. להן , on that account, therefore (cf. Daniel 2:9 and Daniel 4:24), formed from the prepos. ל and the demonstrative adverb הן , has in negative sentences (as the Hebr. כּי and להן ) the meaning but, rather (Daniel 2:30), and in a pregnant sense, only (Daniel 2:11; Daniel 3:28; Daniel 6:8), without להן being derived in such instances from לא and הן לא אם .
The wise men repeat their request, but the king persists that they only justify his suspicion of them by pressing such a demand, and that he saw that they wished to deceive him with a self-conceived interpretation of the dream. וּפשׁרה is not, as Hitz. proposes, to be changed into וּפשׁרה . The form is a Hebr. stat. emphat. for וּפשׁרא , as e.g., מלּתה , Daniel 2:5, is changed into מלּתא in Daniel 2:8 and Daniel 2:11, and in biblical Chaldee, in final syllables ה is often found instead of . א fo
יצּיב מן , an adverbial expression, to be sure, certainly, as קשׁט מן , truly, Daniel 2:47, and other adverbial forms. The words זבנין אנתּוּן עדּנא דּי do not mean either “that ye wish to use or seize the favourable time” (Häv., Kran.), or “that ye wish to buy up the present perilous moment,” i.e., bring it within your power, become masters of the time (Hitz.), but simply, that ye buy, that is wish to gain time (Ges., Maur., etc.). עדּן זבן = tempus emere in Cicero. Nothing can be here said of a favourable moment, for there was not such a time for the wise men, either in the fact that Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten his dream (Häv.), or in the curiosity of the king with reference to the interpretation of the dream, on which they could speculate, expecting that the king might be induced thereby to give a full communication of the dream (Kran.). But for the wise men, in consequence of the threatening of the king, the crisis was indeed fully of danger; but it is not to be overlooked that they appeared to think that they could control the crisis, bringing it under their own power, by their willingness to interpret the dream if it were reported to them. Their repeated request that the dream should be told to them shows only their purpose to gain time and have their lives, if they now truly believed either that the king could not now distinctly remember his dream, or that by not repeating it he wished to put them to the test. Thus the king says to them: I see from your hesitation that ye are not sure of your case; and since ye at the same time think that I have forgotten the dream, therefore ye wish me, by your repeated requests to relate the dream, only to gain time, to extend the case, because ye fear the threatened punishment (Klief.). דּי כּל־קבל , wholly because; not, withstanding that (Hitz.). As to the last words of Daniel 2:8, see under Daniel 2:5.
הן דּי is equivalent to אם אשׁר , quodsi. “The דּי supposes the fact of the foregoing passage, and brings it into express relation to the conditional clause” (Kran.). דּתכון does not mean, your design or opinion, or your lot (Mich., Hitz., Maur.), but dat is law, decree, sentence; דּתכון , the sentence that is going forth or has gone forth against you, i.e., according to Daniel 2:5, the sentence of death. חדה , one, or the one and no other. This judgment is founded on the following passage, in which the cop. ו is to be explained as equivalent to namely. וּשׁחיתה כּדבה , lies and pernicious words, are united together for the purpose of strengthening the idea, in the sense of wicked lies (Hitz.). הזמנתון is not to be read, as Häv., v. Leng., Maur., and Kran. do, as the Aphel הזמנתּוּן : ye have prepared or resolved to say; for in the Aphel this word ( זמן ) means to appoint or summon a person, but not to prepare or appoint a thing (see Buxt. Lex. Tal. s. v.). And the supposition that the king addressed the Chaldeans as the speakers appointed by the whole company of the wise men (Kran.) has no place in the text. The Kethiv הזּמּנתּוּן is to be read as Ithpa. for הזדּמּנתּוּן according to the Keri (cf. hizakuw הזּכּוּ for הזדּכּוּ , Isaiah 1:16), meaning inter se convenire , as the old interpreters rendered it. “Till the time be changed,” i.e., till the king either drop the matter, or till they learn something more particular about the dream through some circumstances that may arise. The lies which Nebuchadnezzar charged the wise men with, consisted in the explanation which they promised if he would tell them the dream, while their desire to hear the dream contained a proof that they had not the faculty of revealing secrets. The words of the king clearly show that he knew the dream, for otherwise he would not have been able to know whether the wise men spoke the truth in telling him the dream (Klief.).
Since the king persisted in his demand, the Chaldeans were compelled to confess that they could not tell the dream. This confession, however, they seek to conceal under the explanation that compliance with the king's request was beyond human power, - a request which no great or mighty king had ever before made of any magician or astrologer, and which was possible only with the gods, who however do not dwell among mortals. דּי כּל־קבל does not mean quam ob rem , wherefore, as a particle expressive of a consequence (Ges.), but is here used in the sense of because, assigning a reason. The thought expressed is not: because the matter is impossible for men, therefore no king has ever asked any such thing; but it is this: because it has come into the mind of no great and mighty king to demand any such thing, therefore it is impossible for men to comply with it. They presented before the king the fact that no king had ever made such a request as a proof that the fulfilling of it was beyond human ability. The epithets great and mighty are here not mere titles of the Oriental kings (Häv.), but are chosen as significant. The mightier the king, so much the greater the demand, he believed, he might easily make upon a subject.
להן , but only, see under Daniel 2:6. In the words, whose dwelling is not with flesh, there lies neither the idea of higher and of inferior gods, nor the thought that the gods only act among men in certain events (Häv.), but only the simple thought of the essential distinction between gods and men, so that one may not demand anything from weak mortals which could be granted only by the gods as celestial beings. בּשׂרא , flesh, in opposition to רוּח , marks the human nature according to its weakness and infirmity; cf. Isaiah 31:3; Psalms 56:5. The king, however, does not admit this excuse, but falls into a violent passion, and gives a formal command that the wise men, in whom he sees deceivers abandoned by the gods, should be put to death. This was a dreadful command; but there are illustrations of even greater cruelty perpetrated by Oriental despots benore him as well as after him. The edict ( דּתא ) is carried out, but not fully. Not “all the wise men,” according to the terms of the decree, were put to death, but מתקטּלין חכּימיּא , i.e., The wise men were put to death.
While it is manifest that the decree was not carried fully out, it is yet clearer from what follows that the participle מתקטּלין does not stand for the preterite, but has the meaning: the work of putting to death was begun. The participle also does not stand as the gerund: they were to be put to death, i.e., were condemned (Kran.), for the use of the passive participle as the gerund is not made good by a reference to מהימן , Daniel 2:45, and דחיל , Daniel 2:31. Even the command to kill all the wise men of Babylon is scarcely to be understood of all the wise men of the whole kingdom. The word Babylon may represent the Babylonian empire, or the province of Babylonia, or the city of Babylon only. In the city of Babylon a college of the Babylonian wise men or Chaldeans was established, who, according to Strabo (xv. 1. 6), occupied a particular quarter of the city as their own; but besides this, there were also colleges in the province of Babylon at Hipparenum, Orchae , which Plin. hist. nat. vi. 26 (30) designates as tertia Chaldaeorum doctrina , at Borsippa, and other places. The wise men who were called (Daniel 2:2) into the presence of the king, were naturally those who resided in the city of Babylon, for Nebuchadnezzar was at that time in his palace. Yet of those who had their residence there, Daniel and his companions were not summoned, because they had just ended their noviciate, and because, obviously, only the presidents or the older members of the several classes were sent for. But since Daniel and his companions belonged to the whole body of the wise men, they also were sought out that they might be put to death.
Daniel's willingness to declare his dream to the king; his prayer for a revelation of the secret, and the answer to his prayer; his explanation before the king.
Through Daniel's judicious interview of Arioch, the further execution of the royal edict was interrupted. וּטעם עטא התיב , he answered, replied, counsel and understanding, i.e., the words of counsel and understanding; cf. Proverbs 26:16. The name Arioch appears in Genesis 14:1 as the name of the king of Ellasar, along with the kings of Elam and Shinar. It is derived not from the Sanscr. ârjaka , venerabilis , but is probably formed from ארי , a lion, as נסרך from nisr = נשׁר רב־טבּחיּא is the chief of the bodyguard, which was regarded as the highest office of the kingdom (cf. Jeremiah 39:9, Jeremiah 39:11; Jeremiah 40:1.). It was his business to see to the execution of the king's commands; see 1 Kings 2:25; 2 Kings 25:8.
The partic. Aph. מהחצפה standing after the noun in the stat. absol. is not predicative: “on what account is the command so hostile on the part of the king?” (Kran.), but it stands in apposition to the noun; for with participles, particularly when further definitions follow, the article, even in union with substantives defined by the article, may be and often is omitted; cf. Song of Solomon 7:5, and Ew. §335 a. חצף , to be hard, sharp, hence to be severe. Daniel showed understanding and counsel in the question he put as to the cause of so severe a command, inasmuch as he thereby gave Arioch to understand that there was a possibility of obtaining a fulfilment of the royal wish. When Arioch informed him of the state of the matter, Daniel went in to the king - i.e., as is expressly mentioned in Daniel 2:24, was introduced or brought in by Arioch - and presented to the king the request that time should be granted, promising that he would show to the king the interpretation of the dream.
With להחויה וּפשׁרא the construction is changed. This passage does not depend on דּי , time, namely, to show the interpretation (Hitz.), but is co-ordinate with the foregoing relative clause, and like it is dependent on וּבעא . The change of the construction is caused by the circumstance that in the last passage another subject needed to be introduced: The king should give him time, and Daniel will show the interpretation. The copulative ו before פשׁרא (interpretation) is used neither explicatively, namely, and indeed, nor is it to be taken as meaning also; the simple and is sufficient, although the second part of the request contains the explanation and reason of the first; i.e., Daniel asks for the granting of a space, not that he might live longer, but that he might be able to interpret the dream to the king. Besides, that he merely speaks of the meaning of the dream, and not also of the dream itself, is, as Daniel 2:25. show, to be here explained (as in Daniel 2:24) as arising from the brevity of the narrative. For the same reason it is not said that the king granted the quest, but Daniel 2:17. immediately shows what Daniel did after the granting of his request. He went into his own house and showed the matter to his companions, that they might entreat God of His mercy for this secret, so that they might not perish along with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
The final clause depends on הודע (Daniel 2:17). The ו is to be interpreted as explicative: and indeed, or namely. Against this interpretation it cannot be objected, with Hitz., that Daniel also prayed. He and his friends thus prayed to God that He would grant a revelation of the secret, i.e., of the mysterious dream and its interpretation. The designation “God of heaven” occurs in Genesis 24:7, where it is used of Jehovah; but it was first commonly used as the designation of the almighty and true God in the time of the exile (cf. Daniel 2:19, Daniel 2:44; Ezra 1:2; Ezra 6:10; Ezra 7:12, Ezra 7:21; Nehemiah 1:5; Nehemiah 2:4; Psalms 136:26), who, as Daniel names Him (Daniel 5:23), is the Lord of heaven; i.e., the whole heavens, with all the stars, which the heathen worshipped as gods, are under His dominion.
In answer to these supplications, the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night-vision. A vision of the night is not necessarily to be identified with a dream. In the case before us, Daniel does not speak of a dream; and the idea that he had dreamed precisely the same dream as Nebuchadnezzar is arbitrarily imported into the text by Hitz. in order to gain a “psychological impossibility,” and to be able to cast suspicion on the historical character of the narrative. It is possible, indeed, that dreams may be, as the means of a divine revelation, dream-visions, and as such may be called visions of the night (cf. Daniel 7:1, Daniel 7:13); but in itself a vision of the night is a vision simply which any one receives during the night whilst he is awake.
On receiving the divine revelation, Daniel answered ( ענה ) with a prayer of thanksgiving. The word ענה retains its proper meaning. The revelation is of the character of an address from God, which Daniel answers with praise and thanks to God. The forms להוא , and in the plur. להון and להוין , which are peculiar to the biblical Chaldee, we regard, with Maur., Hitz., Kran., and others, as the imperfect or future forms, 3rd pers. sing. and plur., in which the ל instead of the י is to be explained perhaps from the Syriac praeform. נ , which is frequently found also in the Chaldee Targums (cf. Dietrich, de sermonis chald. proprietate , p. 43), while the Hebrew exiles in the word הוא used ל instead of נ as more easy of utterance. The doxology in this verse reminds us of Job 1:21. The expression “ for ever and ever ” occurs here in the O.T. for the first time, so that the solemn liturgical Beracha ( Blessing) of the second temple, Nehemiah 9:5; 1 Chronicles 16:36, with which also the first (Psalms 45:14) and the fourth (Psalms 106:48) books of the Psalter conclude, appears to have been composed after this form of praise used by Daniel. “The name of God” will be praised, i.e., the manifestation of the existence of God in the world; thus, God so far as He has anew given manifestation of His glorious existence, and continually bears witness that He it is who possesses wisdom and strength (cf. Job 12:13). The דּי before the להּ is the emphatic re-assumption of the preceding confirmatory דּי , for.
The evidence of the wisdom and power of God is here unfolded; and firs the manifestation of His power. He changes times and seasons. lxx, Theodot. καιροὺς καὶ χρόνους , would be more accurately χρόνους καὶ καιρούς , as in Acts 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1; for the Peschito in these N. T. passages renders χρόνοι by the Syriac word which is equivalent to זמניּא , according to which עדּן is the more general expression for time = circumstance of time, זמן for measured time, the definite point of time. The uniting together of the synonymous words gives expression to the thought: ex arbitrio Dei pendere revolutiones omnium omnino temporum, quaecunque et qualia-cunque illa fuerint . C. B. Mich. God's unlimited control over seasons and times is seen in this, that He sets up and casts down kings. Thus Daniel explains the revelation regarding the dream of Nebuchadnezzar made to him as announcing great changes in the kingdoms of the world, and revealing God as the Lord of time and of the world in their developments. All wisdom also comes from God. He gives to men disclosures regarding His hidden counsels. This Daniel had just experienced. Illumination dwells with God as it were a person, as Wisdom, Proverbs 8:30. The Kethiv נהירא is maintained against the Keri by נהירוּ , Daniel 5:11, Daniel 5:14. With the perf. שׁרא the participial construction passes over into the temp. fin.; the perfect stands in the sense of the completed act. Therefore (Daniel 2:23) praise and thanksgiving belong to God. Through the revelation of the secret hidden to the wise men of this world He has proved Himself to Daniel as the God of the fathers, as the true God in opposition to the gods of the heathen. וּכען ועתּה , and now.
Hereupon Daniel announced to the king that he was prepared to make known to him the dream with its interpretation. דּנה כּל־קבל , for that very reason, viz., because God had revealed to him the king's matter, Daniel was brought in by Arioch before the king; for no one had free access to the king except his immediate servants. אזל , he went, takes up inconsequenter the על ( intravit), which is separated by a long sentence, so as to connect it with what follows. Arioch introduced (Daniel 2:25) Daniel to the king as a man from among the captive Jews who could make known to him the interpretation of his dream. Arioch did not need to take any special notice of the fact that Daniel had already (Daniel 2:16) spoken with the king concerning it, even if he had knowledge of it. In the form הנעל , Daniel 2:25, also Daniel 4:3 (6) and Daniel 6:19 (18), the Dagesch lying in העל , Daniel 2:24, is compensated by an epenthetic n: cf. Winer, Chald. Gram. §19, 1. בּהתבּהלה , in haste, for the matter concerned the further execution of the king's command, which Arioch had suspended on account of Daniel's interference, and his offer to make known the dream and its interpretation. השׁכּחת for אשׁכּחת , cf. Winer, §15, 3. The relative דּי , which many Codd. insert after גּבר , is the circumstantially fuller form of expression before prepositional passages. Cf. Daniel 5:13; Daniel 6:14; Winer, §41, 5.
To the question of the king, whether he was able to show the dream with its interpretation, Daniel replies by directing him from man, who is unable to accomplish such a thing, to the living God in heaven, who alone reveals secrets. The expression, whose name was Belteshazzar (Daniel 2:26), intimates in this connection that he who was known among the Jews by the name Daniel was known to the Chaldean king only under the name given to him by the conqueror - that Nebuchadnezzar knew of no Daniel, but only of Belteshazzar. The question, “ art thou able?” i.e., has thou ability? does not express the king's ignorance of the person of Daniel, but only his amazement at his ability to make known the dream, in the sense, “art thou really able?” This amazement Daniel acknowledges as justified, for he replies that no wise man was able to do this thing. In the enumeration of the several classes of magicians the word חכּימין is the general designation of them all. “But there is a God in heaven.” Daniel “declares in the presence of the heathen the existence of God, before he speaks to him of His works.” Klief. But when he testifies of a God in heaven as One who is able to reveal hidden things, he denies this ability eo ipso to all the so-called gods of the heathen. Thereby he not only assigns the reason of the inability of the heathen wise men, who knew not the living God in heaven, to show the divine mysteries, but he refers also all the revelations which the heathen at any time receive to the one true God. The ו in והודע introduces the development of the general thought. That there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, Daniel declares to the king by this, that he explains his dream as an inspiration of this God, and shows to him its particular circumstances. God made known to him in a dream “what would happen in the end of the days.” אחרית יומיּא הימים אחרית designates here not the future generally (Häv.), and still less “that which comes after the days, a time which follows after another time, comprehended under the הימים ” (Klief.), but the concluding future or the Messianic period of the world's time; see Genesis 49:1.
From דּנה אחרי in Daniel 2:29 that general interpretation of the expression is not proved. The expression יומיּא בּאחרית of Daniel 2:28 is not explained by the דּנה אחרי להוא דּי מה of Daniel 2:29, but this אחרי relates to Nebuchadnezzar's thoughts of a future in the history of the world, to which God, the revealer of secrets, unites His Messianic revelations; moreover, every Messianic future event is also an דּנה אחרי (cf. Daniel 2:45), without, however, every דּנה אחרי being also Messianic, though it may become so when at the same time it is a constituent part of the future experience and the history of Israel, the people of the Messianic promise (Kran.). “The visions of thy head” (cf. Daniel 4:2 , Daniel 4:7 , Daniel 4:10 , Daniel 7:1) are not dream-visions because they formed themselves in the head or brains (v. Leng., Maur., Hitz.), which would thus be only phantoms or fancies. The words are not a poetic expression for dreams hovering about the head (Häv.); nor yet can we say, with Klief., that “the visions of thy head upon thy bed, the vision which thou sawest as thy head lay on thy pillow,” mean only dream-visions. Against the former interpretation this may be stated, that dreams from God do not hover about the head; and against the latter, that the mention of the head would in that case be superfluous. The expression, peculiar to Daniel, designates much rather the divinely ordered visions as such, “as were perfectly consistent with a thoughtfulness of the head actively engaged” (Kran.). The singular הוּא דּנה goes back to חלמך (thy dream) as a fundamental idea, and is governed by ראשׁך וחזוי in the sense: “thy dream with the visions of thy head;” cf. Winer, §49, 6. The plur. חזוי is used, because the revelation comprehends a series of visions of future events.
The pronoun אנתּה ( as for thee), as Daniel everywhere writes it, while the Keri substitutes for it the later Targ. form אנתּ , is absolute, and forms the contrast to the ואנה ( as for me) of Daniel 2:30. The thoughts of the king are not his dream (Hitz.), but thoughts about the future of his kingdom which filled his mind as he lay upon his bed, and to which God gave him an answer in the dream (v. Leng., Maur., Kran., Klief.). Therefore they are to be distinguished from the thoughts of thy heart, Daniel 2:30, for these are the thoughts that troubled the king, which arose from the revelations of the dream to him. The contrast in Daniel 2:30 and Daniel 2:30 is not this: “not for my wisdom before all that live to show,” but “for the sake of the king to explain the dream;” for ב is not the preposition of the object, but of the means, thus: “not by the wisdom which might be in me.” The supernatural revelation ( לי (<) גּלי ) forms the contrast, and the object to which דּי על־דּברת points is comprehended implicite in מן־כּל־חיּיּא , for in the words, “the wisdom which may be in me before all living,” lies the unexpressed thought: that I should be enlightened by such superhuman wisdom. יהודצוּן , “ that they might make it known:” the plur. of undefined generality, cf. Winer, §49, 3. The impersonal form of expression is chosen in order that his own person might not be brought into view. The idea of Aben Ezra, Vatke, and others, that angels are the subject of the verb, is altogether untenable.
The Dream and Its Interpretation. - Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream a great metallic image which was terrible to look upon. אלוּ ( behold), which Daniel interchanges with ארו , corresponds with the Hebrew words ראה ראוּ , or הנּה צלם is not an idol-image (Hitz.), but a statue, and, as is manifest from the following description, a statue in human form. חד is not the indefinite article (Ges., Win., Maur.), but the numeral. “The world-power is in all its phases one, therefore all these phases are united in the vision in one image” (Klief.). The words from צלמא to יתּיר contain two parenthetical expressions, introduced for the purpose of explaining the conception of שׁגיא ( great). קאם is to be united with ואלוּ דּכּן here and at Daniel 7:20. is used by Daniel as a peculiar form of the demonstrative pronoun, for which Ezra uses דּך . The appearance of the colossal image was terrible, not only on account of its greatness and its metallic splendour, but because it represented the world-power of fearful import to the people of God (Klief.).
The description of the image according to its several parts is introduced with the absolute צלמא הוּא , concerning this image, not: “this was the image.” The pronoun הוּא is made prominent, as דּנה , Daniel 4:15, and the Hebr. זה more frequently, e.g., Isaiah 23:13. חדוהי , plural חדין - its singular occurs only in the Targums - corresponding with the Hebr. חזה , the breast. מצין , the bowels, here the abdomen enclosing the bowels, the belly. ירכה , the thighs ( hüfte) and upper part of the loins. Daniel 2:33. שׁק , the leg, including the upper part of the thigh. מנהון is partitive: part of it of iron. Instead of מנהון the Keri prefers the fem. מנהן here and at Daniel 2:41 and Daniel 2:42, with reference to this, that רגליו is usually the gen. fem., after the custom of nouns denoting members of the body that are double. The Kethiv unconditionally deserves the preference, although, as the apparently anomalous form, which appears with this suffix also in Daniel 7:8, Daniel 7:20, after substantives of seemingly feminine meaning, where the choice of the masculine form is to be explained from the undefined conception of the subjective idea apart from the sex; cf. Ewald's Lehr. d. hebr. Sp. §319.
The image appears divided as to its material into four or five parts - the head, the breast with the arms, the belly with the thighs, and the legs and feet. “Only the first part, the head, constitutes in itself a united whole; the second, with the arms, represents a division; the third runs into a division in the thighs; the fourth, bound into one at the top, divides itself in the two legs, but has also the power of moving in itself; the fifth is from the first divided in the legs, and finally in the ten toes runs out into a wider division. The material becomes inferior from the head downward - gold, silver, copper, iron, clay; so that, though on the whole metallic, it becomes inferior, and finally terminates in clay, losing itself in common earthly matter. Notwithstanding that the material becomes always the harder, till it is iron, yet then suddenly and at last it becomes weak and brittle clay.” - Klief. The fourth and fifth parts, the legs and the feet, are, it is true, externally separate from each other, but inwardly, through the unity of the material, iron, are bound together; so that we are to reckon only four parts, as afterwards is done in the interpretation. This image Nebuchadnezzar was contemplating (Daniel 2:34), i.e., reflected upon with a look directed toward it, until a stone moved without human hands broke loose from a mountain, struck against the lowest part of the image, broke the whole of it into pieces, and ground to powder all its material from the head even to the feet, so that it was scattered like chaff of the summer thrashing-floor. בידין לא דּי does not mean: “which was not in the hands of any one” (Klief.), but the words are a prepositional expression for without; ב לא , not with = without, and דּי expressing the dependence of the word on the foregoing noun. Without hands, without human help, is a litotes for: by a higher, a divine providence; cf. Daniel 8:25; Job 34:20; Lamentations 4:6. כּחדה , as one = at once, with one stroke. דּקוּ for דּקּוּ is not intransitive or passive, but with an indefinite plur. subject: they crushed, referring to the supernatural power by which the crushing was effected. The destruction of the statue is so described, that the image passes over into the matter of it. It is not said of the parts of the image, the head, the breast, the belly, and the thighs, that they were broken to pieces by the stone, “for the forms of the world-power represented by these parts had long ago passed away, when the stone strikes against the last form of the world-power represented by the feet,” but only of the materials of which these parts consist, the silver and the gold, is the destruction replicated; “for the material, the combinations of the peoples, of which these earlier forms of the world-power consist, pass into the later forms of it, and thus are all destroyed when the stone destroys the last form of the world-power” (Klief.). But the stone which brought this destruction itself became a great mountain which filled the whole earth. To this Daniel added the interpretation which he announces in Daniel 2:36. נאמר , we will tell, is “a generalizing form of expression” (Kran.) in harmony with Daniel 2:30. Daniel associates himself with his companions in the faith, who worshipped the same God of revelation; cf. Daniel 2:23.
The interpretation begins with the golden head. מלכיּא מלך , the usual title of the monarchs of the Oriental world-kingdoms (vid., Ezekiel 26:7), is not the predicate to אנתּה , but stands in apposition to מלכּא . The following relative passages, Daniel 2:37 and Daniel 2:38, are only further explications of the address King of Kings, in which אנתּה is again taken up to bring back the predicate. בּכל־דּי , wherever, everywhere. As to the form דּארין , see the remarks under קאמין at Daniel 3:3. The description of Nebuchadnezzar's dominion over men, beasts, and birds, is formed after the words of Jeremiah 27:6 and Jeremiah 28:14; the mention of the breasts serves only for the strengthening of the thought that his dominion was that of a world-kingdom, and that God had subjected all things to him. Nebuchadnezzar' dominion did not, it is true, extend over the whole earth, but perhaps over the whole civilised world of Asia, over all the historical nations of his time; and in this sense it was a world-kingdom, and as such, “the prototype and pattern, the beginning and primary representative of all world-powers” (Klief.). ראשׁה , stat. emphat. for ראשׁא ; the reading ראשׁהּ defended by Hitz. is senseless. If Daniel called him (Nebuchadnezzar) the golden head, the designation cannot refer to his person, but to the world-kingdom founded by him and represented in his person, having all things placed under his sway by God. Hitzig's idea, that Nebuchadnezzar is the golden head as distinguished from his successors in the Babylonian kingdom, is opposed by Daniel 2:39, where it is said that after him (not another king, but) “another kingdom” would arise. That “Daniel, in the words, 'Thou art the golden head,' speaks of the Babylonian kingdom as of Nebuchadnezzar personally, while on the contrary he speaks of the other world-kingdoms impersonally only as of kingdoms, has its foundation in this, that the Babylonian kingdom personified in Nebuchadnezzar stood before him, and therefore could be addressed by the word thou, while the other kingdoms could not” (Klief.).
In this verse the second and third parts of the image are interpreted of the second and third world-kingdoms. Little is said of these kingdoms here, because they are more fully described in Daniel 7, 8 and 10. That the first clause of Daniel 2:39 refers to the second, the silver part of the image, is apparent from the fact that Daniel 2:38 refers to the golden head, and the second clause of Daniel 2:39 to the belly of brass. According to this, the breast and arms of silver represent another kingdom which would arise after Nebuchadnezzar, i.e., after the Babylonian kingdom. This kingdom will be מנּך ארעא , inferior to thee, i.e., to the kingdom of which thou art the representative. Instead of the adjective ארעא , here used adverbially, the Masoretes have substituted the adverbial form ארץ , in common use in later times, which Hitz. incorrectly interprets by the phrase “downwards from thee.” Since the other, i.e., the second kingdom, as we shall afterwards prove, is the Medo-Persian world-kingdom, the question arises, in how far was it inferior to the Babylonian? In outward extent it was not less, but even greater than it. With reference to the circumstance that the parts of the image representing it were silver, and not gold as the head was, Calv., Aub., Kran., and others, are inclined to the opinion that the word “inferior” points to the moral condition of the kingdom. But if the successive deterioration of the inner moral condition of the four world-kingdoms is denoted by the succession of the metals, this cannot be expressed by מנּך ארעא , because in regard to the following world-kingdoms, represented by copper and iron, such an intimation or declaration does not find a place, notwithstanding that copper and iron are far inferior to silver and gold. Klief., on the contrary, thinks that the Medo-Persian kingdom stands inferior to, or is smaller than, the Babylonian kingdom in respect of universality; for this element is exclusively referred to in the text, being not only attributed to the Babylonian kingdom, Daniel 2:37, in the widest extent, but also to the third kingdom, Daniel 2:39, and not less to the fourth, Daniel 2:40. The universality belonging to a world-kingdom does not, however, require that it should rule over all the nations of the earth to its very end, nor that its territory should have a defined extent, but only that such a kingdom should unite in itself the οἰκουμένη , i.e., the civilised world, the whole of the historical nations of its time. And this was truly the case with the Babylonian, the Macedonia, and the Roman world-monarchies, but it was not so with the Medo-Persian, although perhaps it was more powerful and embraced a more extensive territory than the Babylonian, since Greece, which at the time of the Medo-Persia monarchy had already decidedly passed into the rank of the historical nations, as yet stood outside of the Medo-Persian rule. But if this view is correct, then would universality be wanting to the third, i.e., to the Graeco-Macedonian world-monarchy, which is predicated of it in the words “That shall bear rule over the whole earth,” since at the time of this monarchy Rome had certainly passed into the rank of historical nations, and yet it was not incorporated with the Macedonian empire.
The Medo-Persian world-kingdom is spoken of as “inferior” to the Babylonian perhaps only in this respect, that from its commencement it wanted inner unity, since the Medians and Persians did not form a united people, but contended with each other for the supremacy, which is intimated in the expression, Daniel 7:5, that the bear “raised itself up on one side:” see under that passage. In the want of inward unity lay the weakness or the inferiority in strength of this kingdom, its inferiority as compared with the Babylonian. This originally divided or separated character of this kingdom appears in the image in the circumstance that it is represented by the breast and the arms. “Medes and Persians,” as Hofm. ( Weiss. u. Ef. i. S. 279) well remarks, “are the two sides of the breast. The government of the Persian kingdom was not one and united as was that of the Chaldean nation and king, but it was twofold. The Magi belonged to a different race from Cyrus, and the Medes were regarded abroad as the people ruling with and beside the Persians.” This two-sidedness is plainly denoted in the two horns of the ram, Daniel 8.
Daniel 2:39 treats of the third world-kingdom, which by the expression אחרי , “another,” is plainly distinguished from the preceding; as to its quality, it is characterized by the predicate “of copper, brazen.” In this chapter it is said only of this kingdom that “it shall rule over the whole earth,” and thus be superior in point of extent and power to the preceding kingdoms. Cf. Daniel 7:6, where it is distinctly mentioned that “power was given unto it.” Fuller particulars are communicated regarding the second and third world-kingdoms in Daniel 8 and Daniel 10:1.
The interpretation of the fourth component part of the image, the legs and feet, which represent a fourth world-kingdom, is more extended. That kingdom, corresponding to the legs of iron, shall be hard, firm like iron. Because iron breaks all things in pieces, so shall this kingdom, which is like to iron, break in pieces and destroy all these kingdoms.
Instead of רביציא , which is formed after the analogy of the Syriac language, the Keri has the usual Chaldee form רביעאה , which shall correspond to the preceding תליתאה , Daniel 2:39. See the same Keri Daniel 3:25; Daniel 7:7, Daniel 7:23. דּי כּל־קבל does not mean just as (Ges., v. Leng., Maur., Hitz.), but because, and the passage introduced by this particle contains the ground on which this kingdom is designated as hard like iron. חשׁל , breaks in pieces, in Syriac to forge, i.e., to break by the hammer, cf. חוּשׁלא , bruised grain, and thus separated from the husks. כּל־אלּין is referred by Kran., in conformity with the accents, to the relative clause, “because by its union with the following verbal idea a blending of the image with the thing indicated must first be assumed; also nowhere else, neither here nor in Daniel 7, does the non-natural meaning appear, e.g., that by the fourth kingdom only the first and second kingdoms shall be destroyed; and finally, in the similar expression, Daniel 7:7, Daniel 7:19, the הדּק stands likewise without an object.” But all the three reasons do not prove much. A mixing of the figure with the thing signified does not lie in the passage: “the fourth (kingdom) shall, like crushing iron, crush to pieces all these” (kingdoms). But the “non-natural meaning,” that by the fourth kingdom not only the third, but also the second and the first, would be destroyed, is not set aside by our referring כּל־אלּין to the before-named metals, because the metals indeed characterize and represent kingdoms. Finally, the expressions in Daniel 7:7, Daniel 7:19 are not analogous to those before us. The words in question cannot indeed be so understood as if the fourth kingdom would find the three previous kingdoms existing together, and would dash them one against another; for, according to the text, the first kingdom is destroyed by the second, and the second by the third; but the materials of the first two kingdoms were comprehended in the third. “The elements out of which the Babylonian world-kingdom was constituted, the countries, people, and civilisation comprehended in it, as its external form, would be destroyed by the Medo-Persia kingdom, and carried forward with it, so as to be constituted into a new external form. Such, too, was the relation between the Medo-Persian and the Macedonian world-kingdom, that the latter assumed the elements and component parts not only of the Medo-Persian, but also therewith at the same time of the Babylonian kingdom” (Klief.). In such a way shall the fourth world-kingdom crush “all these” past kingdoms as iron, i.e., will not assume the nations and civilisations comprehended in the earlier world-kingdoms as organized formations, but will destroy and break them to atoms with iron strength. Yet will this world-kingdom not throughout possess and manifest the iron hardness. Only the legs of the image are of iron (Daniel 2:41), but the feet and toes which grow out of the legs are partly of clay and partly of iron.
Regarding מנהון , see under Daniel 2:33. חסף means clay, a piece of clay, then an earthly vessel, 2 Samuel 5:20. פּחר in the Targums means potter, also potter's earth, potsherds. The פּחר דּי serves to strengthen the חסף , as in the following the addition of טינא , clay, in order the more to heighten the idea of brittleness. This twofold material denotes that it will be a divided or severed kingdom, not because it separates into several (two to ten) kingdoms, for this is denoted by the duality of the feet and by the number of the toes of the feet, but inwardly divided; for פּלג always in Hebr., and often in Chald., signifies the unnatural or violent division arising from inner disharmony or discord; cf. Genesis 10:25; Psalms 55:10; Job 38:25; and Levy, chald. Worterb. s. v. Notwithstanding this inner division, there will yet be in it the firmness of iron. נצבּא , firmness, related to יצב , Pa. to make fast, but in Chald. generally plantatio , properly a slip, a plant.
In Daniel 2:42 the same is aid of the toes of the feet, and in Daniel 2:43 the comparison to iron and clay is defined as the mixture of these two component parts. As the iron denotes the firmness of the kingdom, so the clay denotes its brittleness. The mixing of iron with clay represents the attempt to bind the two distinct and separate materials into one combined whole as fruitless, and altogether in vain. The mixing of themselves with the seed of men (Daniel 2:43), most interpreters refer to the marriage politics of the princes. They who understand by the four kingdoms the monarchy of Alexander and his followers, think it refers to the marriages between the Seleucidae and the Ptolemies, of which indeed there is mention made in Daniel 11:6 and Daniel 11:17, but not here; while Hofm. thinks it relates to marriages, such as those of the German Kaiser Otto II and the Russian Grand-Duke Wladimir with the daughters of the Kaiser of Eastern Rome. But this interpretation is rightly rejected by Klief., as on all points inconsistent with the text. The subject to מתערבין is not the kings, of whom mention is made neither in Daniel 2:43 nor previously. For the two feet as well as the ten toes denote not kings, but parts of the fourth kingdom; and even in Daniel 2:44, by מלכיּא , not kings in contradistinction to the kingdoms, but the representatives of the parts of the kingdom denoted by the feet and the toes as existing contemporaneously, are to be understood, from which it cannot rightly be concluded in any way that kings is the subject to מתערבין ( shall mingle themselves).
As, in the three preceding kingdoms, gold, silver, and brass represent the material of these kingdoms, i.e., their peoples and their culture, so also in the fourth kingdom iron and clay represent the material of the kingdoms arising out of the division of this kingdom, i.e., the national elements out of which they are constituted, and which will and must mingle together in them. If, then, the “mixing themselves with the seed of men” points to marriages, it is only of the mixing of different tribes brought together by external force in the kingdom by marriages as a means of amalgamating the diversified nationalities. But the expression is not to be limited to this, although התערב , Ezra 9:2, occurs of the mixing of the holy nation with the heathen by marriage. The peculiar expression אנששׁא זרע , the seed of men, is not of the same import as זרע שׁכבת , but is obviously chosen with reference to the following contrast to the divine Ruler, Daniel 2:44., so as to place (Kran.) the vain human endeavour of the heathen rulers in contrast with the doings of the God of heaven; as in Jeremiah 31:27 אדם זרע is occasioned by the contrast of בּהמה זרע . The figure of mixing by seed is derived from the sowing of the field with mingled seed, and denotes all the means employed by the rulers to combine the different nationalities, among which the connubium is only spoken of as the most important and successful means.
But this mixing together will succeed just as little as will the effort to bind together into one firm coherent mass iron and clay. The parts mixed together will not cleave to each other. Regarding להון , see under Daniel 2:20.
The world-kingdom will be broken to pieces by the kingdom which the God of heaven will set up. “In the days of these kings,” i.e., of the kings of the world-kingdoms last described; at the time of the kingdoms denoted by the ten toes of the feet of the image into which the fourth world-monarchy extends itself; for the stone (Daniel 2:34) rolling against the feet of the image, or rather against the toes of the feet, breaks and destroys it. This kingdom is not founded by the hands of man, but is erected by the God of heaven, and shall for ever remain immoveable, in contrast to the world-kingdoms, the one of which will be annihilated by the other. Its dominion will not be given to another people. מלכוּתהּ , his dominion, i.e., of the kingdom. This word needs not to be changed into מלכוּתהּ , which is less suitable, since the mere status absol. would not be here in place. Among the world-kingdoms the dominion goes from one people to another, from the Babylonians to the Persians, etc. On the contrary, the kingdom of God comprehends always the same people, i.e., the people of Israel, chosen by God to be His own, only not the Israel κατὰ σάρκα , but the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). But the kingdom of God will not merely exist eternally without change of its dominion, along with the world-kingdoms, which are always changing and bringing one another to dissolution, it will also break in pieces and destroy all these kingdoms ( תסף , from סוּף , to bring to an end, to make an end to them), but itself shall exist for ever. This is the meaning of the stone setting itself free without the hands of man, and breaking the image in pieces.
The מטּוּרא before אתגּזרת , which is wanting in Daniel 2:34, and without doubt is here used significantly, is to be observed, as in Daniel 2:42 “the toes of the feet,” which in Daniel 2:33 were also not mentioned. As it is evident that a stone, in order to its rolling without the movement of the human hand, must be set free from a mountain, so in the express mention of the mountain there can be only a reference to Mount Zion, where the God of heaven has founded His kingdom, which shall from thence spread out over the earth and shall destroy all the world-kingdoms. Cf. Psalms 50:2; Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2.
The first half of the 45th verse (down to ודהבּא ) gives the confirmation of that which Daniel in Daniel 2:44 said to the king regarding the setting up and the continuance of the kingdom of God, and essentially belongs to this verse. On the other hand, Hitz. (and Kran. follows him) wishes to unite this confirmatory passage with the following: “because thou hast been that the stone, setting itself free from the mountain, breaks in pieces the iron, etc., thus has God permitted thee a glimpse behind the veil that hides the future,” - in order that he may conclude from it that the writer, since he notes only the vision of the stone setting itself free as an announcement of the future, betrayed his real standpoint, i.e., the standpoint of the Maccabean Jew, for whom only this last catastrophe was as yet future, while all the rest was already past. This conclusion Kran. has rejected, but with the untenable argument that the expression, “what shall come to pass hereafter,” is to be taken in agreement with the words, “what should come to pass,” Daniel 2:29, which occur at the beginning of the address. Though this may in itself be right, yet it cannot be maintained if the passage Daniel 2:45 forms the antecedent to Daniel 2:45. In this case דּנה ( this), in the phrase “ after this ” (= hereafter, Daniel 2:45), can be referred only to the setting loose of the stone. But the reasons which Hitz. adduces for the uniting together of the passages as adopted by him are without any importance. Why the long combined passage cannot suitably conclude with ורהבּא there is no reason which can be understood; and that it does not round itself is also no proof, but merely a matter of taste, the baselessness of which is evident from Daniel 2:10, where an altogether similar long passage, beginning with דּי כּל־קבל ( forasmuch as), ends in a similar manner, without formally rounding itself off. The further remark also, that the following new passage could not so unconnectedly and baldly begin with רב אלהּ , is no proof, but a mere assertion, which is set aside as groundless by many passages in Daniel where the connection is wanting; cf. e.g., Daniel 4:16, Daniel 4:27>. The want of the copula before this passage is to be explained on the same ground on which Daniel uses רב אלהּ ( stat. absol., i.e., without the article) instead of אלהא רבּא , Ezra 5:8. For that רב אלהּ means, not “a (undefined) great God,” but the great God in heaven, whom Daniel had already (Daniel 2:28) announced to the king as the revealer of secrets, is obvious. Kran. has rightly remarked, that רב אלהּ may stand “in elevated discourse without the article, instead of the prosaic אלה רב , Ezra 5:8.” The elevated discourse has occasioned also the absence of the copula, which will not be missed if one only takes a pause at the end of the interpretation, after which Daniel then in conclusion further says to the king, “The great God has showed to the king what will be hereafter.” דּנה אחרי , after this which is now, does not mean “at some future time” (Hitz.), but after that which is at present, and it embraces the future denoted in the dream, from the time of Nebuchadnezzar till the setting up of the kingdom of God in the time of the Messiah.
The word with which Daniel concludes his address, יצּיב , firm, sure, is the dream, and certain its interpretation, is not intended to assure the king of the truth of the dream, because the particulars of the dream had escaped him, and to certify to him the correctness of the interpretation (Kran.), but the importance of the dream should put him in mind to lay the matter to heart, and give honour to God who imparted to him these revelations; but at the same time also the word assures the readers of the book of the certainty of the fulfilment, since it lay far remote, and the visible course of things in the present and in the proximate future gave no indication or only a very faint prospect of the fulfilment. For other such assurances see Daniel 8:26; Daniel 10:21, Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:5; Revelation 22:6.
We shall defer a fuller consideration of the fulfilment of this dream or the historical references of the four world-kingdoms, in order to avoid repetition, till we have expounded the vision which Daniel received regarding it in Daniel 7.
The impression which this interpretation of the dream made upon Nebuchadnezzar, and the consequences which thence arose for Daniel.
The announcement and the interpretation of the remarkable dream made so powerful an impression on Nebuchadnezzar, that he fell down in supplication before Daniel and ordered sacrifice to be offered to him. Falling prostrate to the earth is found as a mark of honour to men, it is true (1 Samuel 20:41; 1 Samuel 25:28; 2 Samuel 14:4), but סגד is used only of divine homage (Isaiah 44:15, Isaiah 44:17, Isaiah 44:19; Isaiah 46:6, and Daniel 3:5.). To the Chaldean king, Daniel appeared as a man in whom the gods manifested themselves; therefore he shows to him divine honour, such as was shown by Cornelius to the Apostle Peter, and at Lystra was shown to Paul and Barnabas, Acts 10:25; Acts 14:13. מנחה , an unbloody sacrifice, and ניחחין , are not burnt sacrifices or offerings of pieces of fat (Hitz.), but incensings, the offering of incense; cf. Exodus 30:9, where the קטרת is particularly mentioned along with the עלה and the מנחה נסּך is, with Hitz., to be taken after the Arabic in the general signification sacrificare, but is transferred zeugmatically from the pouring out of a drink-offering to the offering of a sacrifice. Daniel 2:47, where Nebuchadnezzar praises the God of the Jews as the God of gods, does not stand in contradiction to the rendering of divine honour to Daniel in such a way that, with Hitz., in the conduct of the king we miss consistency and propriety, and find it improbable. For Nebuchadnezzar did not pray to the man Daniel, but in the person of Daniel to his God, i.e., to the God of the Jews; and he did this because this God had manifested Himself to him through Daniel as the supreme God, who rules over kings, and reveals hidden things which the gods of the Chaldean wise men were not able to reveal. Moreover, in this, Nebuchadnezzar did not abandon his heathen standpoint. He did not recognise the God of the Jews as the only, or the alone true God, but only as God of gods, as the highest or the most exalted of the gods, who excelled the other gods in might and in wisdom, and was a Lord of kings, and as such must be honoured along with the gods of his own country. מן־קשׁט דּי , of truth (it is) that, stands adverbially for truly.
After Nebuchadnezzar had given honour to the God of the Jews, he rewarded Daniel, the servant of this God, with gifts, and by elevating him to high offices of state. רבּי , to make great, is more fully defined by the following passages. השׁלטהּ , he made him a man of power, ruler over the province of Babylon, i.e., vicegerent, governor of this province. According to Daniel 3:2, the Chaldean kingdom consisted of several מדינתא , each of which had its own שׁלטון . The following סגנין ורב depends zeugmatically, however, on השׁלטהּ : and (made him) president over all the wise men. סגנין , Hebr. סגנים , vicegerent, prefect, is an Aryan word incorporated into the Hebrew, ζωγάνης in Athen., but not yet certainly authenticated in Old Persian; vide (Spiegel in Delitzsch on Isaiah 41:25. The wise men of Babylon were divided into classes according to their principal functions, under סגנין , chiefs, whose president (= רב־מג , Jeremiah 39:3) Daniel was.
At Daniel's request the king made his three friends governors of the province. וּמנּי is not, with Häv. and other older writers, to be translated that he should ordain; this sense must be expressed by the imperfect. The matter of the prayer is not specially given, but is to be inferred from the granting of it. But this prayer is not, with Hitz. and older interpreters, to be understood as implying that Daniel entreated the king to release him from the office of vicegerent, and that the king entrusted that office to his three friends; for if Daniel wished to retain this dignity, but to transfer the duty to his friends, there was no need, as Hitz. thinks, for this purpose, for the express appointment of the king; his mere permission was enough. But whence did Hitz. obtain this special information regarding the state arrangements of Babylon? and how does he know that מנּי , to decree, means an express appointment in contradistinction to a royal permission? The true state of the matter Häv. has clearly explained. The chief ruler of the province had a number of ὕπαρχοι , under-officers, in the province for the various branches of the government. To such offices the king appointed Daniel's three friends at his request, so that he might be able as chief ruler to reside continually at the court of the king. עבידתּא , rendering of service = המּלך עבדת , service of the king, 1 Chronicles 26:30, according as the matter may be: the management of business. מלכּא בּתרע , near the gate, i.e., at the court of the king, for the gate, the door, is named for the building to which it formed the entrance; cf. המּלך שׁער , Esther 2:19, Esther 2:21; Esther 3:2. Gesenius is in error when he explains the words there as meaning that Daniel was made prefect of the palace.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Daniel 2". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26