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2. The vision of the monarchies, or Nebuchadnezzar’s dream concerning the four world-kingdoms, and its interpretation by Daniel
1And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith [and] his spirit was troubled,1 and his sleep brake 2from him.2 Then [And] the king commanded3 to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldæans, for to shew [tell] the king his dreams. So [And] they came and stood before the king. 3And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled1 to know the dream.
4Then spake the Chaldæans to the king in Syriac [Aramaic], O king, live for ever! tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
5The king answered and said to the Chaldæans, The thing [word] is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with [and] the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces,4 and your houses shall be made a 6dunghill [sink]. But [And] if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of [from before] me gifts and rewards [largess], and great honour: therefore shew me the dream and the interpretation thereof.
7They answered again, and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it. 8The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing [word] Isaiah 9:0 gone from me. But [, that] if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you; for [and] ye have prepared lying and corrupt words [a lie and a corrupt word] to speak before me till the time be changed;5 therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.
10The Chaldæans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth6 that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things [a matter] at any magician, or astrologer, or Chal 11dæan. And it is a rare thing [And the matter] that the king requireth [asketh is weighty]; and there is none other that can shew it before the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
12For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded7 to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13And the decree went forth that [, and] the wise men should be slain [were about to be killed]; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
14Then Daniel answered with8 counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard,9 which was [who had] gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: 15he answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty 16from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. Then [And] Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew [even to show] the king the interpretation.
17Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions; 18that they would desire [even to request] mercies of the God of heaven [the heavens] concerning this secret, that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night-vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven [the heavens]. 20Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God10 for ever and ever [from everlasting and to everlasting]; for wisdom 21and might are his.11 And he12 changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to 22them that know understanding. Hebrews 11:0; Hebrews 11:0 revealeth the deep and secret things: Hebrews 2:0Hebrews 2:0; Hebrews 2:03knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and made known unto me now13 what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.
24Therefore Daniel went in unto14 Arioch, whom the king had ordained [appointed] to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him, Destroy not15 the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation. 25Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him,16 I have found a man of the captives [children of the captivity] of Judah that [who] will make known unto the king the interpretation. 26The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
27Daniel answered in the presence of [before] the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded [asked], cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew [the wise men.… cannot show] unto the king; 28but [yet] there is a God in heaven [the heavens] that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days [what is it that shall be in the end of the days]. Thy dream, and the visions 29of thy head upon thy bed, are these [is this]; (as for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed what should come to pass [what it is that shall be] hereafter; and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what 30shall come to pass [what it is that shall be]: but [and] as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have [is in me] more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation [but in order that the interpretation may be made known] to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart:)
31Thou, O king, sawest, and, behold, a17 great18 image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood [a great image—this image was large, and its brightness excessive—rising] before thee,19 and the form thereof was terrible. 32This image’s head [This was the image: Its head] was of fine20 gold, his breast [its breasts] and his [its] arms of silver, his belly [its bowels] and his thighs 33[its thighs] of brass [copper], his [its] legs of iron, his [its] feet part [of them] of iron and part [of them] of clay. 34Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which [and it] smote the image upon his [its] feet, that were 35of iron and clay,21 and brake them to pieces [crushed them]. Then was [were] the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together,22 and became like the chaff of [from] the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that [and] no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became [was for] a great mountain, and filled the whole [all the] earth.
36This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof [its interpretation we will tell] before the king.
37Thou, O king, art a king of kings [the kings]: for the God of heaven [the heavens] hath given thee a [the] kingdom, [the] power, and [the] strength, and [the] glory.23 38And wheresoever the children of men dwell [in every place that the sons of man are dwelling], the beasts [living thing] of the field, and the fowls [bird] of the heaven [heavens], hath he given into [in] thy hand, and hath made thee ruler [rule] over them all. Thou art this [the] head of gold. 39And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to [earthward from] thee, and another third kingdom [a kingdom the third another] of brass,24 which shall bear rule over all the earth. 40And the fourth kingdom [a kingdom the fourth] shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things [the whole]; and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. 41And whereas thou sawest the feet and [the] toes part [of them] of potter’s clay and part [of them] ofiron, the kingdom shall be divided [a divided kingdom it shall be]; but [and] there shall be in it of the strength of the 42iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron25 mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part [of them] of iron and part [of them] of clay; so the 43kingdom shall be partly26 strong, and partly [part of it shall be] broken. And27 whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men [man]; but [and] they shall not cleave one to another 44[this with this], even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the [their] days of these kings shall the God of heaven [the heavens] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other [another] people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it28 shall stand for eDaniel Daniel 2:45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the [a] stone was cut out of the mountain without [upon not with] hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron,24 the brass,24 the clay,24 the silver,24 and the gold; 24 the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter [what it is that shall be after this]: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
46Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer [to offer] an oblation and sweet odours unto him. 47The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is that your God Isaiah 29 a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing [that] thou couldest reveal this secret. 48Then the king made Daniel a great man30 and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole [all the] province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. 49Then [And | Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but [and] Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
Daniel 2:1-3. Nebuchadnezzar demands an interpretation of his dream by the Magi. And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, i.e., in the second year of his sole reign, which, as remarked in § 8, note 2, of the Introduction, must have commenced some time after the fourth—perhaps in the sixth—year of the reign of Jehoiakim. The time, therefore, is about four years later than that mentioned in Daniel 1:1, and soon after that designated in Daniel 1:18. The three years of the training of Daniel and his companions had expired, perhaps by only a few weeks or months, and their reception into the number of the royal officials, as well as among the magicians, in the broader sense of the term, was of recent occurrence, when the remarkable event transpired which is here recorded, and which raised the four Jews to a far more exalted position in the royal favor. There is, therefore, no conflict, either with those passages of chap. 1 nor with Jeremiah 25:1, where “the first year of Nebuchadnezzar,” does not designate the first year of his sole reign, but of his joint rule. Compare Hengstenberg, p. 60 et seq., who is correct, in opposition to those who find here essentially a chronological error (Berth., Bleek, Hitz., etc.); and also, as compared with the less suitable modes of reconciliations attempted by several, e.g., Wieseler (Die LXX Wochen, etc., p. 8 et seq.), who places the event narrated in this chapter before the expiration of the three years of Daniel’s training, and therefore before Daniel 1:18-20, thus regarding it as a supplementary attestation and illustration of the statement in Daniel 1:20 (also Füller, p. 33 et seq.); Hävernick (Neue krit. Unters., p. 64), who places the facts stated in Daniel 1:1 et seq. altogether at the beginning of the third year of Jehoiakim, and assumes in addition, that Nebuchadnezzar became king a whole year later; from which it follows that 38–39 months may have elapsed between the taking of Jerusalem and the transportation of Daniel (Daniel 1:1 et seq.), and the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Ewald’s opinion that עֶשְׂרֵה has been lost from after שְׁתּיִם, which would give the twelfth instead of the second year of Nebuchadnezzar, is likewise superfluous.31—The copula in וּבִשְׁנַת ש׳ probably indicates that verses l–4a were written immediately after chap. 1 and doubtless for the purpose of connecting this introductory section more closely with the Chaldaic fragment, Daniel 2:4-49Daniel 2:4-49Daniel 2:4-49, which, together with the narratives in Chaldee that follow, may have already existed in manuscript form. Compare the Intr. § 4.—Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams. [“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 (and even its final overthrow).… 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.”—Keil.] The plural הֲלֹמוֹת is used in this place with reference to the several contents of the dream, which, according to Daniel 2:31, comprises a number of scenes: (1) The sight of the great image; (2) its destruction; and (3) the growth of the stone which caused its ruin, until it became a gigantic mountain. The dream thus manifested its confused, mysterious character, that dissolved into indefiniteness. The plural may, therefore, with a certain propriety be taken as a plural of unlimited universality, which serves to prepare the way for the singular that follows in Daniel 2:3, in so far as it designates the whole of the confused and complex nature of the dream, among whose visions the image of the monarchies and its fate, were prominent in importance and in the impression they produced (cf. Hävern and Maur. on the passage). The rabbinical interpretation, which refers the plural to the dream and its explanation, is certainly to be rejected (e.g., Jos. Jacchiad.); and also the unauthorized identification of חִַלֹמוֹת with חֲלוֹם. (Sept., Vulg., Luther, etc.; and also Hävernick, who endeavors to define this as a plural of intensity, supporting his view by a comparison with חָכְמוֹת, Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 9:1, which is certainly not plural).—Wherewith his spirit was troubled. Daniel 2:3, and also Genesis 41:8 (where the awaking of Pharaoh from his dream is described) employ the Niphal וַתִּפָּעֶם in the same sense that the Hithpael in this place bears, viz.: as indicating the alarm of one who has been frightened by a dream; compare Psalms 77:5, נִפְעַמְתִּי “I am so troubled” (properly, “I am bruised, beaten,” contundor). and also the Greek ταράττεσθσι. “The Hithpael intensifies the conception of internal disturbance contained in the Niphal, so that it implies that its outward expression could not be mistaken” (Kranichf.).—And his sleep brake from him,” or “and his sleep was over for him.” So, properly, the Sept., Vulg., Luther, Berth., etc., and, in general a majority of expositors. On the Niphal יִהְיָה, in the sense of being past or completed, compare Daniel 8:27, and especially Micah 2:4. The phrase “His sleep went from him” (Daniel 6:19; Esther 6:1) conveys a somewhat different idea. עָלָיוּ, “over him,” or “for him,” expresses, as frequently with conceptions of emotional activity, the sense of the dative in a more circumstantial and emphatic manner; cf. Daniel 4:24; Daniel 6:19; Daniel 10:8, and see Gesenius’ Thesaurus, p. 1027, 3, e. Hävernick renders it incorrectly: “His sleep came on him heavily;” for the statement that the king was greatly troubled does not admit of the other, that a heavy slumber had seized on him. Rather Daniel 2:3 shows clearly that the desire to recall his dream, hence such an effort to recollect as would necessarily banish sleep, formed the real cause of his disturbance.—On the phenomenon that Nebuchadnezzar should have a dream of prophetic significance, and then forget it (with reference to many of its details, if not entirely) consult the dogmatico-ethical considerations, No. 1.
Daniel 2:2. And the king commanded to call the magicians, etc. This is exactly similar to Genesis 41:8, to which record the writer seems designedly to have conformed in expression. Of the four classes of wise men here remarked (חַכִּימִין, Daniel 2:27), the Chartummim and Ashaphim have already been mentioned, Daniel 1:20 (see on that place). The מְכַשְּׁפִים, mentioned as a third class, are clearly “enchanters;” cf. כַּשֵּׁף (properly “to mutter words of incantation;” Sept., φαρμακεύεσθαι) 2 Chronicles 33:6 and מְכַשֵּׁף (φαρμακός) Exodus 7:11; Deut. 48:10. The term designates, in correspondence with its harsher formation, a stronger and more passionate mode of incantation than אשׁם—an apparent and observable enchantment, as distinguished from the mere breathing of magical formulas. The further mention of the כַּשְׂדִּים, Chaldæans, in connection with the Chartummim, etc., and therefore, as a special class of wise men coördinate with the others, involves no abuse or carelessness of expression, but rather corresponds fully with the statement of Herodotus (I. 181), that the Chaldæans were the priests of Bel, and with that of Diodorus (II. 24), that the Babylonians termed their priests Χαλδαῐοι. Those designated in this place as כַּשְׂדִּים are therefore the sacerdotal wise men (cf. Hesychius, s. v. Χαλδαῖοι, where the Chaldæans are distinguished as a γένος Μάγων), who, it is probable, were specially occupied with astronomy, the aboriginal science of the nations about the Euphrates and the Tigris, whose founder was supposed to be Belus, the chief divinity of the Chaldæans (Pliny, H. N, vi. Dan 30: “Belus—inventor sideralis scientiœ”). As astronomers, they were probably classed with the astrologers, the גָּֽזְרִין, who are mentioned in connection with them in Daniel 4:4; Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:11, and instead of them in Daniel 2:27 of this chapter (see on that passage). The nationality of these Chaldæans was clearly different from that of the great mass of the Babylonian populace; for while these, the original inhabitants of Shinar, were pure Shemites, the former had adopted many Aryan elements into their language and customs. The Chaldæans, after inhabiting Babylonia for centuries, as a kind of priestly caste, attained to political supremacy through Belesys or Nabopolassar, whom Diodorus, ii. 26, designates as ἐπισημότατον τῶν ἱερέων οῦς Βαβυλώνιοι καλοῠαι Χαλδαίους, hence through one of their superior priests (about B. C. 637). They retained this pre-eminence until the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, hence, about a century; but this probably did not exclude the primitive Babylonian priesthood from its place beside the sacerdotal class of the dominant nationality, either in regard to office, or to consideration. Thus we may explain why the Chaldæans are only co-ordinate with the other classes of magicians in this place and in the passages of chap. 4 and 5 which have been mentioned, and also understand the fact that the official language (according to Daniel 2:4) was not the Chaldee, but continued to be the Aramæan (primitive Babylonian). The Chaldæns, Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar did not, therefore, found a one-sided, intolerant, sacerdotal dynasty; they had rather, so far as this was possible, become thorough Babylonians, or, in other words, Aramæans. The Chaldæns, however, must have formed the potior pars of the whole body of the wise men at the court, for no other supposition will explain why the entire corps are designated sometimes as הַכַּשְׂדִּים, and at others as הַכִּימֵי בָבֶל, in the following account (Daniel 2:4-5; Daniel 2:10, cf. Daniel 2:11-12, etc.). Compare Hitz. and Kranichf. on this passage, and see infra, on Daniel 2:4.—For to show the king his dreams. All of the four classes of wise men just mentioned were therefore to co-operate in interpreting the dream, “because in this important matter the facts and opinions were to be settled by various methods, and possibly, to be placed on record. The several classes of wise men supplemented each other on such occasions, and assisted each other mutually by their peculiar methods. Thus, the priests might propitiate the gods and invoke their aid, by sacrifices; the conjurers might contribute to the increase of prophetic ability, as might also the enchanters, e.g., by the use of narcotics, etc. In this way the Egyptian wise-men were constantly employed in individual cases as a αύατημα, according to Diodorus, iii. 30.” (Kranichf.)
Daniel 2:3. My spirit was troubled to know the dream. A constr. prœgnans, which signifies, “My spirit has become troubled (cf. on Daniel 2:1), and desirous to know the dream.” The king clearly desires to have his dream rehearsed, and not merely to learn its meaning. The words לָדַעַת אֶת־חִַלוֹם may certainly imply the latter, but it appears definitely from Daniel 2:5 et seq., 9 et seq. 26, and 36, that he is more immediately concerned to recover the dream itself. The reason was, without doubt, that he had really forgotten it, or, as is frequently the case with intricate dreams, many of its particulars had escaped his memory, and he retained only a general undefined impression of having seen something fearful, monstrous, and alarming, in his dream. A total forgetting of the dream cannot be supposed in this case, since it was not possible for the king to be so greatly troubled as to lose his sleep about a dream which he had forgotten entirely (Daniel 2:1). Nor can it be assumed that he really recollected the dream, and had merely pretended that he no longer remembered it (R. Gaon in Ibn-Ezra, Hengstenberg, Hävernick); for the writer would hardly have left unnoticed a representation of this nature, which aimed to test the magicians; and, in addition, the rage of the king, as described in Daniel 2:12 et seq., is too furious to be pretended. [On the other hand, Keil justly contends (with the majority of interpreters) that he had not essentially forgotten his dream. “It is psychologically improbable 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 (Genesis 41:0), by the specially striking incidents of the dream, and the fearful, alarming apprehensions with reference to his future fate connected therewith’ (Kran.). According to Daniel 2:9, Nebuchadnezzar wished to hear the dream from the wise men that he might thus have a guarantee for the correctness of the interpretations 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 that case he would neither have offered a great reward for the announcement of the dream, nor have threatened severe punishment, even death, for failure in announcing it. For then he would only have given the Chaldæans the opportunity, at the cost of truth, of declaring any dream with an interpretation. ‘The Magi boasted that by the help of the gods they could reveal deep and hidden things’ (Hengst.).” It is very probable, however, that while the king retained a lively recollection of the main features of the dream, he might have forgotten some of the particulars, which, if rehearsed again, he would be able to recognize. This justifies the whole proceeding.]
Daniel 2:4. The reply of the magicians. Then spake the Chaldaeans to the king in Syriac, i.e., Aramaic. אֲרָמִיּח, the Aramaic dialect of the Babylonians, which was still prevalent at the court of the Chaldæan rulers, Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar, etc., and which was distinguished from their Chaldee idiom, including numerous non-Shemitic elements, by its purely Shemitic character, and especially by its near relationship to the Aramæan of the Syrians. Hence, the Sept. and Theodotion translate Συριστί, the Vulg. Syriace, and Xenophon (Cyrop. vii. 5, 31)states directly that the Babylonians spoke Syriac. The reason for Daniel’s express statement that the Chaldæans addressed the king in Aramaic (note the verb דִּבֶּר, corresponding to the adverb; cf. Isaiah 36:11) consists simply in the fact that he desired to call the attention of his Hebrew readers to the contrast between the nationality of the כַּשְׂדִּים, i.e., the majority of the wise men who were summoned before the king, and the purely Shemitic language, which they were obliged to employ (cf. on Daniel 2:2). It is wrong to look for the reason of their use of Aramaic, with Palmblad, Hävernick, and others, in their desire to hide the confession of their ignorance from the turba adstantium. This might rather have been accomplished by the use of Chaldee, while the Aramaæan was familiar to all present as the language of the court and nation. Compare supra on Daniel 1:4, and also the correct remark of Füller (p. 37): “While the language of the Chaldæans was the language of science, this (the Aram.) was the language of popular intercourse.”—O king, live for ever. This was an introductory formula of the address to the king (cf. Daniel 3:9; v. 10; Daniel 6:7; Daniel 6:22), attested as a general Oriental formula of greeting by 1 Samuel 10:24 (Saul); 1 Kings 1:31 (David); Nehemiah 2:3 (Artaxerxes); Ælian, V. H, I. 31 (βασιλεῠ ʼΑρταξέρξη, δἰ αἰῶνος βασιλεύοις); Curtius, R., VI. 5 (Alexander the Gr.); Jdt 12:14 (Holofernes).—On the Keri לְעַבְדָּךְ, and similar omissions of ו in the Keris, Daniel 2:26; Daniel 4:16; v. 10, etc., see Hitzig and Kranichf. on this place.
Daniel 2:5-6. Renewed demand by the king, connected with a stern menace. The king … said to the Chaldæans, לְכַשְׂדָּיֵא. The uncontracted form כַּשְׂדָּאַיָּא, a stat. emphat. plur., from כַּשְׂדָּאִין, lies at the foundation of this Kethib, as well as of the Keri לְכַשְׂדָּאֵי; compare Winer, Gramm. des bibl. und targum. Chaldaism., § 32, No. 3.—The thing is gone from me, rather, “the decree is made known by me,” i.e., it is my settled purpose, I say it with all emphasis. The words מִלְּתָא מנִּי אַזְדָּא should probably be rendered in this way, as Hitz. and Kranichf. suggest; for (1) this view only is consistent with the repetition of the formula in Daniel 2:8, as well as with the parallel מִנִּי שִׂים מְעֵם, Daniel 3:29; Daniel 4:3; (2) אַזְדָּא, which is found only here and in Daniel 2:8, is most readily explained by comparison with the Persian azdâ or azanda, which is found in inscriptions, and is equivalent to publication, science, what is known; (3) the rendering which makes אזדא correspond to &תּוּקְפָא קְיָמָא, “standing fast” (Pesh., Ibn-Ezra, the rabbins in Saadia, Winer, Hengstenb.), which is closely related to the one under consideration, is untenable from the fact that an assurance of the fixed and irrevocable character of the royal decree would here be out of place, and that an identification of the root אזד with the Arabic vazada, “to be firm,” seems rather precarious; (4) the identification of אזד with אזל, abiit (Daniel 2:17; Daniel 2:24; Daniel 6:19-20), from which arises the sense, “the word has gone out from me” (Gesen., Hävern., Von Lengerke, etc.) is opposed by the extreme improbability that the two forms are identical in meaning, since an interchange of ל and ד is exceedingly rare, and especially because Daniel always employs the form with ל in other places; (5) finally, the view, “the word has escaped my recollection,” which was formerly common, and which is found as early as Theodotion and the Sept. (cod. Chis.) (ὁ λόγος ʼ ἐμοῠ ), the Vulgate (sermo recessit a me), Luther, Dereser, and others, but which here, and much more in Daniel 2:8, contradicts the whole context, and does not consist with the only admissible sense of מִלְּתָה=word, command, is wholly untenable; for the term nowhere in this chapter, not even in Daniel 2:23, signifies the dream of the king, but always his decree, his demand. [Moreover, “the punctuation of the word אַזְדָּא is not at all that of a verb, for it can neither be a participle, nor the 3d pers. præt. fem.” (Keil), but it is the fem, of an adj. אָזַד, or (as Fürst thinks), an adverbial form of the same. The meaning firm, however, which the author rejects, seems to us more suitable and better corroborated than any other.]—Ye shall be cut in pieces. אתעבד חדּמין, to be made pieces (Sept. διαμερίζεσθαι; cf. μέιλη ποιεῖν, 2Ma 1:16, and διχοτομεῖν, Matthew 24:51); a cruel punishment in vogue among till the nations of antiquity, and especially among the Chaldæans (Ezekiel 16:40; Ezekiel 23:47); compare Daniel 3:29.—And your houses shall be made a dunghill. Similarly Daniel 3:29, and also Ezra 7:11, where the form נְוָלוּ is used instead of Daniel’s נְוָלִי. This term, derived from the Pael נַוֵּל נַבֵּל:, to soil, defile, indicates the extremely disgraceful nature of the threatened penalty; the houses are to be changed into dunghills, by being razed to the ground and covered with animal and human ordure—just as Jehu turned the temple of Baal into a sink, 2 Kings 10:27. See the proofs of the frequent use of this method of disgrace and punishment in the East, adduced by Hävernick.
Daniel 2:6. Ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards, and great honors; rather, “great treasures.” The second of the terms here employed, נְבִזְבָּה, “reward “(compare the plural נְבִזְבִּין, “gifts,” chap. v. 17, and the Targ. Jonath., Jeremiah 40:5; Deuteronomy 33:24) is satisfactorily explained by its derivation from בזז, and specially from a Palpel form בַּזְבֵּז, facultates suas contemsit, prodegit. It is not necessary, therefore, to refer with Berth., Eichhorn, etc., to the Greek νόμισμα in its elucidation, nor with Haug (in Ewald’s Jahrb. d. bibl. Wissenschaft, 1853, p. 160), Gesen. -Dietr., etc., to institute a comparison with the old Persian ni-bag-vâ, “presentation,” nor, above all, with the Sanscrit namas, “present, gift,” as Hitzig attempts. Ewald prefers נְבִזְבֶּה, and the translation of this term by official stations, or promoting to office (for which he refers to the old Persic and also to Daniel 5:16)—which, however, is opposed to the entire body of exegetical tradition.—Therefore shew me the dream, etc. לָהֵן, therefore (composed of the demonstrative adverb הֵן and the preposition לְ), is found in this signification in Daniel 2:9, and Daniel 4:24, and in the Hebrew of Ruth 1:13. On the other hand it signifies “but rather” in Daniel 2:30, and “but” in Ezra 5:12.
Daniel 2:7-9. Repeated refusal of the Chaldæans, and renewed threatening of the king. They answered again. תִּנְיָנוּת, an adverb from תִּנְיָן, “the second one,” Daniel 7:5.—And we will shew the interpretation, וּפִשְׁרָה נְהַחֲוֵה. The form פִּשְׁרָח is not to be changed into פִּשְׁרֵח, as Hitzig suggests, but must rather be regarded simply as a Hebraized stat. emphat. for פּשׁרא, just as (Daniel 2:5) מִלְּתָה is used for מלְּתָא (Daniel 2:8, etc.), or כִּתְבָּה (Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:15) instead of כִּתְבָּא (ibid., Daniel 2:8; Daniel 2:16, etc.). Whether the Hebraizing orthography apparent in this and other similar instances is to be placed to the account of Daniel, and to be considered as a peculiar feature of the Chaldee in his time (Pusey, Daniel, p. 46), or whether it originated with later transcribers of Daniel’s text, cannot be definitely decided; compare Kranichf. on this passage.
Daniel 2:8. I know of certainty. מִן יַצִּיב, equivalent to מִן קְשׁוֹט, ex veritate, assuredly, Daniel 2:47.—That ye would gain the time; literally, “that ye purchase time” (Sept. and Theodotion: καιρὸν ἐξαγοράζετε); compare ἐξαγοράζωσθαι τὸν καιρόν, Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:15; also tempus emere, Cicero, Verr. Ι. 3. The time, i.e., the favorable juncture, the opportunitas, which the magicians sought to buy, i.e., to improve, consisted in the fact that the king had forgotten his dream; they aim to improve this circumstance in such a way as eventually to avoid the interpretation altogether.32 Their design is therefore properly “to gain time,” to postpone the decision. Thus Gesen., De Wette, Von Leng., Hävernick, and still earlier, Luther, are correct: “That ye seek delay.” Entirely too artificial is the view of Hitzig and Kranichf., that the favorable circumstances, of which the magicians hoped to avail themselves, consisted in the king’s desire to learn the interpretation of the dream; and that they speculated on this desire, in the hope that the king might ultimately be persuaded to disclose to them the dream, etc.—Because ye see that the thing has gone from me; rather, “that my decree is published,” i.e., because ye observe that I am in earnest about the command; compare Daniel 2:5. כָּל־קְבֵל דִּי does not, in this nor any other place, not even in Daniel 5:22, signify “despite that,” as Hitzig suggests, but “because,” properly “because that,” propterea quod. The king evidently aims to point out the motive for the artful temporizing and delay of the magicians, namely, the menace with which he has intimidated and frightened them.
Daniel 2:9. But if ye will not make known … the dream. דִּי הֵן, Heb. אֲשֶׁר אִם. quodsi. The דּי, properly “since,” “therefore,” takes up the subject of the preceding conditional clause, and places it in emphatic correlation to that clause (Kranichf.).—There is but one decree for you; i.e., one and the same sentence of condemnation shall come on all of you (Vulg. correctly, una est de vobis sententia; cf. Luther, “so ergent das Recht über euch”). דָּת, the sentence of condemnation in this passage, is clearly the same in substance as מִלָּא in Daniel 2:5; Daniel 2:8; the suffix plainly indicates this (דַּתְכוֹן, “your sentence,” i.e., that which comes upon you, which concerns you). Von Leng. and Hitzig (following Theodotion) are wrong: “But one thing forms your object,” ye entertain but one design; for דּת never designates a subjective personal opinion or aim, but rather always an objective norm, which is binding on the individual.—For ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me. כִּדְבָה, “falsehood,” and שְׁחִיתָה, properly, “corruption,” “baseness,” are in apposition with מִלָּה. The entire object is, however, placed before the infinitive לְמֵאמַר which governs it, on account of emphasis; compare Daniel 2:18; Daniel 3:16; Daniel 4:15.—The principal verb is הַזְמִנְתּוּן in the Kethib, the Aphel of זְמַן. This form, which does not occur in the Chaldee or Syriac, but is found in the Samaritan, expresses the sense of “conspiring” which is here required, as well as the Ithpa. חִזְדַּמַּנְתּוּן substituted for it in the Keri (cf.συνέθεσθε of Theodotion and the composueritis of the Vulg.).—Till the time be changed, i.e., until by the aid of some hoped for circumstance ye ascertain something more definite concerning the subject of the dream; or, also, until my anger ceases, and I withdraw the demand altogether.—And I shall know that ye can show … the interpretation thereof. The future תְּהַחֲוֻנַּנִי expresses the idea of ability, competency compare Winer, Gramm., § 44, 3, c. (p. 107).
Daniel 2:10-11. The magicians attempt to establish their declaration respecting the impossibility of gratifying the king’s desire. Therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things; rather, “since no great and mighty king (ever) asked,” etc. כָּל־קְבֵל דִּי is to be taken here, as in Daniel 2:8, in its usual sense of “since,” not as drawing a conclusion, in the sense of “wherefore, for which reason” (Gesen., Von Leng., etc.). It does not, indeed, adduce the actual reason for the assertion that no one could satisfy the royal demand; but it refers to the subjective ground that in all human experience, no king, however great, had imposed such a demand. Compare the similar probatio a posteriori, or a gnorismate, in the familiar passage, Luke 7:47.—The predicates רַב וְשַׁלִּיט are not empty titles after the manner of the Orient (Berth., Von Leng., Häv.), but imply that while the most extreme demands might be expected from precisely the most powerful kings, nevertheless, etc.
Daniel 2:11. Except the gods, whose dwelling is not (to be found) with flesh, or “with men.” בְּשַׂר, flesh, indicates the frailty of created man, encompassed by earthly limitations, as contrasted with the uncreated and divine, which is not confined within these perishable bounds; compare Isaiah 31:3; Jeremiah 17:5; Zechariah 4:6; Job 5:4; also John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16, etc. The Chaldæans include themselves in the term flesh, in order to refer excusingly to their imperfection and the limitation of their knowledge, as in no wise deserving of censure.—The fact that the dwelling of the gods is not with men, prevents such intercourse with them, as would admit of man’s instruction in their superior knowledge. This is certainly a truly heathenish, but not a specifically Babylonian thought (as Hävernick supposes). Von Lengerke’s supposition that the king must already at this juncture have re marked the prophetic rank of Daniel (cf. Exodus 8:15) is too far-fetched. On the other hand, the appeal of the wise men to the gods, becomes significant for the progress of the scene, as it might suggest to the king the consideration, so damaging to themselves, that the gods could not conceal their superior knowledge of important secrets from them, of all others, who were professional priests, in case they were not pretended, but real priests of the gods. In other words, the appeal of the magicians hastens the denunciation of the sentence with which they had been threatened.
Daniel 2:12-13. The decree for the execution of the appointed penalty. And commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon; naturally only those belonging to the capital city, who alone are to be regarded as summoned before the king (Daniel 2:2); not those of the whole realm, nor even of the province of Babylon (Daniel 2:49; Daniel 3:1). Those remaining magicians, or wise men, who were not inhabitants of Babylon itself, formed, according to Strabo 16:1; Pliny, H. N. Daniel 6:26, separate colleges, e.g., in Borsippa, Urchoe, Hipparenum. They differed in certain principles and customs from the Babylonian college, as well as from each other, and therefore, could not be held directly responsible for a mistake or a crime committed by their colleagues in the capital.
Daniel 2:13. And the decree went forth. דָּת, the decree in proper form, the firman (cf. δόγμα, Luke 2:1); compare Daniel 2:9.—That the wise men should be slain. וְחַכִּימַיָּא מִתְקַטְּלִיּן probably expresses no more than this; the form of the imperf. partic. מִתְקַמְּלִין seems to be used as a gerundive, “they were (persons) to be slain, devoted to death;” or—of which, however, there is no other example—the וְ coupled with the participle, seems exceptionally to express the sense of design: “sapientes ut interficerentur” (cf. Kranichf. and Maurer on this passage, the one of whom prefers the former explanation, and the other the latter). The execution of the sentence is not to be regarded as having actually begun,33 as appears sufficiently from what follows, especially in Daniel 2:14; Daniel 2:24 (contra Hitzig, etc.).—And they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain; evidently because they were regarded as belonging to the חַכִּימִין or מָגִים in the broader sense, which could only be the case after they had passed the examination before the king mentioned in Daniel 1:19—hence, after completing the three years of their training. It follows from this that the event here recorded did not transpire during that period (cf. on Daniel 2:1), as Wieseler holds. At the same time the statement before us indicates that Daniel was not entirely unknown to the king at this time, as might appear from Daniel 2:25 et seq. The fact that Daniel and his three fellows had not appeared in person before the king, but were sought for, is easily explained by the consideration that Nebuchadnezzar did not, by any means, summon all connected with the class of magians in the capital before him (cf. Daniel 2:2, where Luther’s “all star-gazers and wise men” is decidedly inexact), but assuredly only the presidents of the several chief classes, the notables and representatives of the whole body.—On the apologetical significance of the circumstance that Daniel and his companions seem, in this place, to be at least connected or affiliated with the order of magians, if not formal members of it (as Von Lengerke, evidently going too far, supposed) see above, Dogm.-eth. considerations on chap. 1, and also Kranichf. on this passage.
Daniel 2:14-16. Daniel prevails on the king to delay the execution of the sentence. Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch, etc. עֵמָא וּמְעֵם, counsel and wisdom, i.e., words of counsel (cf. עֵצָה Isaiah 11:2; Jeremiah 32:19, etc.) and of wisdom, namely, as concerning the difficult position in which he was placed with the rest of the wise men, and in regard to the proper way to relieve the difficulty (מְעֵם, ratio, similar to Daniel 3:12). On הֲתִיב “to reply,” compare Daniel 3:16; Ezra 5:11. The connection הֲתִיב טְעֵם reminds us of מְשִׁיבֵי טַעַם, Proverbs 26:16.—The name אַרְיוֹךְ occurs as early as Genesis 14:1, as the name of a king of Ellasar. The leading element in its composition seems to be &אֲרִי אֲרְיֵה = Sanscrit arja, “lord,” and, possibly, it may even be directly identified with the Sanscrit ârjaka, “venerabilis.” This person was, therefore, a noble, of decidedly Indo-Germanic race, filling an important office at Nebuchadnezzar’s court. His title רַב־טַבִּחַיָּא, chief of the slaughterers (i.e., the executioners), is the Shemitic designation of the same official who was known in the Roman empire as the Præfectus prœtoris, and in Turkey bears the title of Kapidshi-pasha, hence a chief of the life or body guards. Besides the execution of capital punishments, warlike functions, up to those of a commander-in-chief, might occasionally be devolved on this officer, as appears from the instance of Nebuzaradan, 2 Kings 25:8 et seq. The office existed, however, even at the court of the Egyptian Pharaohs (see שַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים, Genesis 37:36; Genesis 39:1; Genesis 40:3 et seq.). His extensive influence at the Chaldæan court is indicated elsewhere than here (see especially the predicate “the powerful one of the king,” שַׁלִּיטָא דִי־מַלְכָּא Daniel 2:15), in 2 Kings 8:10; Jeremiah 39:9 et seq.; Jeremiah 40:1 et seq.; Jeremiah 41:10; Jeremiah 43:6; Jeremiah 52:12 et seq.
Daniel 2:15. Why is the decree so hasty from the king?—rather, “why this furious decree on the part of the king?” or literally, “why the decree which furious from before the king?” מְהַחְצְפָח the participle of אַחְצֵף, which, according to the Targ. Proverbs 7:13; Proverbs 21:29, is equivalent to חֵעֵז, “to rage,” is here in the stat. absol. instead of emphat., just as the Hebrew participle when in apposition is sometimes without the article, e.g., Cant. 12:5; Amos 9:12; Jon. 4:17. Some, as Hävernick, and others, prefer to translate “hurried,” “hasty,” in analogy with Daniel 3:29, where מַחְצְפָח seems to bear that sense (?); but the ancient versions support the rendering “furious, raging” (Sept. πικρῶς, Theodot. ἀναιδής, Vulg. crudelis), and the entire situation substantiates this meaning.—The writer, however, does not mention everything that Daniel must have said to Arioch on this occasion; but rather contents himself with faintly indicating that only which served to manifest his counsel and wisdom. The author employs an abbreviated style, as in Daniel 1:9-10 (see on the place); he is not, therefore, to be charged with incongruity (Hitzig), nor is the point in question to be strained by an artificially interpolating exegesis, and perhaps (with Kranichf.) to be regarded as particularly surprising and remarkable.
Daniel 2:16. And Daniel went in, namely, to the king in the palace (cf. 2 Samuel 19:6), naturally not until announced by Arioch (cf. Daniel 2:25), for none were admitted to the kings of the East without such announcement, see Esther 4:11; Herodotus, I., 99; III., 110,118. Hence, another abbreviating statement by the author, as also in what immediately follows.—That he would give him time, and that he would show the king the interpretation—and naturally, first of all, the contents of the dream itself. He hopes that God will impart both to him, during the respite that is to be granted. In the construction וּפִשְׁרָא לְחַחֲוַיָּה לְמַלְכַּא the copula is explicative, “and indeed, to,” etc., or “namely, to,” etc. The change of construction here is analogous to that in Daniel 1:5, where the verb וַיְמַן first governs a simple accusative of object, and afterward a telic infinitive clause with &ל וּלְגַדְּלָם).
Daniel 2:17-19. God reveals the secret to Daniel. Then Daniel went to his house—evidently because the king had granted the desired respite, which must be assumed in Daniel 2:16, without further question. This favor will not seem strange, nor inconsequent (Hitz.), when we reflect that Daniel and his three friends had secured the favor and good-will of the king but recently, on the occasion of their first appearance in his presence (Daniel 1:19 et seq.). None were better adapted to soothe the angry king and obtain at least a postponement of the impending punishment, than the handsome and richly endowed Hebrew youth, who had already made so favorable an impression on the monarch, and who probably would have arrested the publication of the decree of punishment, had he been among those magians that were summoned before the king, according to Daniel 2:2; compare on Daniel 2:13.—Daniel’s house may probably be considered as an official or servant’s dwelling, as well as the houses of the other wise men mentioned in Daniel 2:5; and moreover, as the context shows, as a residence which he shared with his companions, Hananiah, etc.
Daniel 2:18. To desire mercies of the God of heaven; more accurately, “and indeed in order to implore mercies.” The clause וְרַחֲמִין לְמִבְעֵא depends on the last preceding verb הוֹדַע, “he made the thing known to them;” hence the construction is the same as in Daniel 2:16 b. The design of the הוֹדַע was to impress the exigency on the prayerful consideration of his friends, and, in fact, a united prayerful consideration in which Daniel himself participated (cf. Daniel 2:23). That the execution of the design to pray is not expressly mentioned, and that we have merely Daniel’s offering of praise after the secret has been Divinely imparted to him, instead of the supplication of the friends, are additional illustrations of the abbreviating style with which our chapter abounds (cf. Daniel 2:14; Daniel 2:16). A New-Testament parallel is found in the Johannean narrative of the raising of Lazarus, John 9:40-41 et seq., where the supplication of Jesus is likewise omitted, and only his thanksgiving after his prayer is heard, is recorded.—The designation of Jehovah as the “God of heaven,” which occurs as early as Genesis 24:7, is very general with Old-Testament writers after the captivity, probably in contradistinction from the custom of the Asiatic Orientals of deifying the several stars or zodiacal regions; cf. Daniel 2:19; Daniel 2:44; Nehemiah 1:5; Nehemiah 2:4; Ezra 1:2; Ezra 6:10; Ezra 7:12; Ezra 7:21; also the related phrase “King of heaven,” Daniel 4:34 (A. V., Daniel 2:37), and συνάστης οὐρανῶν, 2Ma 15:23. In general see Hävernick, Theologie des Allen Testaments, 2d ed., p. 49.
Daniel 2:19. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. הֶזְָוא דְּי־לֵילְיָא aim, as well as הֶזְיונוֹת לַיְלָח, Job 4:13, is probably not a dream-vision, but a vision generally, and properly a vision seen by night. On the influence of night to promote the higher range and prophetic elevation of spiritual meditation, by which it readily arrives at visions, consult Tholuck, Die Propheten und ihre Weissagungen, p. 52.—Compare also the dogmat.-eth. deductions, No. 2 [below].
Daniel 2:20-23. Daniel’s praise and thanksgiving. Hitzig observes correctly, “The leading thought which Daniel wishes to express is placed first, Daniel 2:20 a; next the exclamation is justified in b, by the attributes which belong to God, and in Daniel 2:21-22, by the manner in which they are displayed; finally, Daniel 2:22 shows why Daniel felt a desire to utter the specific thought of Daniel 2:20 a. Those attributes themselves, Daniel 2:20 b, return in Daniel 2:23 as belonging to Daniel, conferred on him by God; and thus the prayer is rounded into unity.”—[Daniel answered and said, “The word עֲנֵח retains its proper meaning. The revelation is of the character of an address from God, which Daniel answers with praise and thanks to God.”—Keil.]—Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever. The form לֶהֱוֶא, like the related &לֶהֱוְיָן לֶהֱוֹן, is to be explained, either by assuming that the particle לְ used as a conjunction (that) has excluded the prefix י (Gesenius, Abhandlung zur hebr. Gramm., p. 180–194), or that the preformative י passes over into ל, as in the later Syriac it passes into נ (Beer, Inscriptiones et papyri vet. Semitici, I., 19 et seq.; Maurer, Hitz., Kranichf., etc.). The latter assumption seems the more trustworthy. On the phrase, “for ever and ever” (from eternity to eternity) compare the similar doxologies, Psa. 41:14; Psalms 106:48.—For wisdom and might are his. This is almost verbally the same as Job 12:13. The דִּי in דִּי־לֵהּ חִיא is an emphatic repetition of the former conditional דִּי.
Daniel 2:21. He changeth the times and seasons. Theodotion and the Sept. correctly render καιροὺ̀ς καὶ χρόνους, for which Act 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1, have the inverse order. עִדָּן is time in general; זְמַן, the determined time, the appointed period or point of time. Both terms are also connected in Daniel 7:12. The thought that God determines and conditions the change of times refers, like the following (“he removeth kings, and setteth up kings”), to the prophetic subject of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-vision, which had just been revealed to Daniel.—He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding. Although Daniel includes himself among these wise and understanding ones, and even has special reference to himself while mentioning them, he utters no offensive sentiment, but expresses essentially the same thought as St. Paul when he writes, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). He traces the wisdom and understanding with which he had just been endowed back to its Divine source, and places himself, as the bearer of such wisdom graciously bestowed by God, in contrast with the heathen magians, who are without it.
Daniel 2:22. He revealeth the deep and secret things, etc. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Psalms 139:12.—And the light dwelleth with him, has made its abode with him, as a visiting personage of celestial race; compare the Johannean ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμι̇ν of the Logos, as well as what is stated in Proverbs 8:30, respecting the Divine wisdom. שְׁרֵא (for which, with Hitzig, we are perhaps to read שְׁרָא) is often used in the Targums instead of נוּחַ or שָׁכַן. Instead of the Kethib נַהִירָא, illuminatio, intellectual light, the Keri has נְהוֹרָמ, physical light (compare perhaps Psalms 104:2; 1 Timothy 6:16). The Kethib, however, is sustained by the corresponding Syriac word, and also by the form נַהִירוּ, Daniel 5:14.
Daniel 2:23. God of my fathers. Daniel addresses Jehovah in this manner, because in contrast with the idols of the heathen, he has just revealed himself again as the same true God, who was known to the patriarchs of his nation.—Who hast given me wisdom and might; namely, wisdom in regard to the understanding of the king’s dream and its interpretation, and strength with reference to the danger of impending death, which he was enabled boldly to face.—And hast made known unto me now. וּכְעַן, the Chaldee וְעַתָּה, “and now,” connects the requisite special proof with the general statement just made. On the etymology of כען, probably a contraction of כְּעִדַּן, “at the time,” see Gesenius, s. v.
Daniel 2:24-26. The announcing of Daniel to the king. Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch. עַל shows the direction, like the Hebrew אֶל; cf. Daniel 4:31; Daniel 7:16. The Hebrew, however, also employs עַל occasionally in this sense, e.g., 2 Samuel 15:4.—He went and said thus unto him. The על, “he went in,” which is cue off by the insertion of a lengthened clause, is resumed by אֲזַל in an anacoluthic way.
Daniel 2:25. Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste. בְּהִתְבְּהָלָה, “hastily,” properly, “in hasting;” cf. Daniel 3:24 and בִּבְהִילוּ, Ezra 6:23, which has the same meaning.—The form חַנְעֵל, which occurs also in Daniel 4:4; Daniel 6:19, neutralizes (like אִנְדַּע, Daniel 2:9) the harshness of the Daghesh (required by the omission of a radical) by the substitution of an epenthetic נ; cf. Winer, § 19, 1. In sense הַנְעֵל does not differ from חָעֵל, Daniel 2:24. Concerning Arioch as the εἰσαγγελεύς of Daniel, see on Daniel 2:16.—I have found a man of the children of the captivity of Judah (margin), i.e., of the Jewish captives. Arioch here certainly speaks of Daniel as wholly unknown to the king, but this is sufficiently explained by the conceited pride and sovereign contempt, with which he, the dignified Indo-Germanic (Daniel 2:14) minister of police, believed himself compelled to look down upon the poor Shemitic prisoner. The etiquette of the Babylonian court, so to speak, and particularly of its military or police division, forbade the leader of the body-guard from recognizing Daniel as one known to the sovereign. The compiler can, therefore, by no means be charged with mentioning in this place what contradicts his former statements, and especially with having already forgotten the fact recorded in Daniel 2:16 (Hitz., Von Leng.). The manner in which, for instance, David is introduced as a shepherd totally unknown to Saul and Abner, 1 Samuel 17:33; 1 Samuel 17:55, might much more readily lead to the conclusion that the narrative there did not originally consist with that recorded in 1 Samuel 16:0, which had brought David into closer relations with Saul at an earlier period (cf. even Keil, on 1 Sam., p. 129 et seq., who admits the strangeness of this contradiction). The marked difference between the discrepancy in that case and the far lighter one in the passage under consideration, shows of itself how little reason there is to assume a multiplicity of compilers, or even a want of skill on the part of the sole author.
Daniel 2:26. The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar. This Babylonian name, which the king himself had caused to be conferred on Daniel (Daniel 1:7), would naturally be the only one to claim the notice of Nebuchadnezzar.—[“The question, Art thou able? i.e., ‘Hast thou ability?’ does not express the king’s ignorance of Daniel’s person, but only his amazement at his ability to make known the dream, in the sense, ‘Art thou really able?’ ”—Keil.]
Daniel 2:27-30. Introductory to the statement and interpretation of the dream. The secret … cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king. (On אָשְׁפִין and חַרְטֻמִּין, A. V. “astrologers” and “magicians,” see on Daniel 1:20.) Concerning the גָּזְרִין “star-gazers,” who are for the first time expressly mentioned in this place, see notes on Daniel 2:2. The word (from גְּזַר, “to cut in,” “incise;” cf. גְּזֵרָה, Daniel 4:14) primarily denotes “deciders,” viz.: deciders of fate, dispensers of decisive oracles concerning the fortunes of men, hence astrologers. Compare Daniel 4:4; Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:11; also Isaiah 47:13, from which passage it appears that the office of the Babylonian astrologers was not confined merely to horoscopy, but extended to every kind of fortune-telling founded on the study of the stars. The Vulg. haruspices is incorrect; for the signification of the Hebrew (and Arabic) גָּזַר, “to cut in pieces,” is foreign to the Aram. גְּזַר; and haruspicy as a specifically priestly function would seem rather to belong to the Chaldæans.
Daniel 2:28. But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets. These words imply the total inability of the heathen gods as well as of their priests and wise men, to reveal secret things; compare Isaiah 41:22 et seq.; Isaiah 43:8; Isaiah 48:3, etc.; Amos 3:7; Hosea 12:11.—And maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar—though that monarch is a heathen; compare the instances of Pharaoh (Genesis 20:3 et seq.; Genesis 41:16 et seq.), Balaam (Numbers 22:0 et seq.), the Eastern Magi (Matthew 2:1 et seq.). The ו in וְהוֹדַע is explicative or particularizing. It serves to introduce the transition from the general truth to the special case in question.—What shall be in the latter days. בְּאַחֲרִית יוֹמַיָּא=Heb. בְּאַחֲרית הַיָּמִים, is neither, directly and without qualification, “in the last time “(Hitzig), nor yet “in the course of time, in the future” generally (Maur., Häv.), but, as everywhere in the prophetic language of the Old Testament (not excepting Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14), “in the Messianic future,”—in the future theocratic period of salvation. Kranichfeld remarks correctly: “The writer at the outset of his prophetic announcement characterizes, by the use of באחרית יומיא, the whole matter as in relation to the Messianic destiny of his people.”—Thy dream, and the visions of thy head. חֶזְוֵי רֵישָׁךְ (Cf. Daniel 4:2; Daniel 4:7; Daniel 4:10; Daniel 7:1) here designate the dream-visions of the king, not because they were begotten by his head or brain in a purely subjective manner, hut because God had originated them in connection with the meditations of his head. The phrase is synonymous with “thy dream,” and with the latter forms a hendiadys, by virtue of their connection by ו; the plural is used because the king had seen a multiplicity of dreams (cf. Daniel 2:1-2), but is subordinated to the singular חֶלְמָךְ as the leading conception, so that the following הוּא דְּנָח is exclusively conformed to this; cf. Winer, § 49, 6.
Daniel 2:29. As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind (marg. “came up”) upon thy bed, i.e., presented themselves, uncalled for as it were;—a strikingly expressive personifying phrase. On the form סְלִקוּ compare Daniel 3:8; Daniel 6:13; Ezra 4:12.—The רַעְיוֹנִין, “thoughts,” are by no means to be directly identified with the “visions of thy head” in the preceding verse; they are, rather, merely the psychical substratum of those visions, the natural soil, as it were, from which the Divine communication sprang forth during the dream (correctly Ephraem, Maurer, Von Lengerke, Kranichf.). The רַעְיוֹנֵי לִבְבָךְ at the close of the following verse, again, are probably something different from both the רעיונין here mentioned, and from those “visions of the head.” They are, most likely, as the context indicates, the disquieting thoughts which occupied the king, after his dream, according to Daniel 2:1 (cf. Daniel 5:6). The pronoun of the second person אַנְתָּה (for which the Keri substitutes the later form אַנְתְּ), which precedes in the nominative absolute, is repeated by the suffix in רַעְיוֹנָיִךְ, in a manner similar to that by which the introductory absolute וַאֲנָה, “and I,” is resumed by “לי, in the next verse; cf. the same construction, Daniel 1:17.
Daniel 2:30. Not for any wisdom that I have more than any living. This denies every human agency in the imparting of such superior knowledge to Daniel, and at the same time refers to the design which governed it, concerning which the latter half of the verse is more explicit.—But for the intent, that the interpretation may be made known to the king (margin); properly, “that they should make known to the king.” The indefinite, impersonal plural יְחוֹדְעוּן (Winer, § 49, 3) was probably used with design, that the person of Daniel might be as little, conspicuous as was possible, in accordance with the thought in the former half of the verse. Compare also Daniel 4:28.
Daniel 2:31-35. The subject of the dream, and, more immediately, the general description, in Daniel 2:31, of the image observed by the king. Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. “Sawest,”—literally, “wast seeing,” wast in the condition of one who beholds a vision; cf. Winer, § 47, 1.—אֲלוּ, “behold,” is a modification of אֲרוּ (Daniel 7:5-6), which, according, to some,=the imperative ראוּ, “behold,” but seems rather to be a pronominal form from the demonstr. אל אַר; see Hupfeld in the Zeitschr. für Kunde des Morgenl., II., 133,163. The Talmud generally substitutes הֲרִי for either of these forms.—The “image” (צְלֵם), as the context shows, designates a statue in the human form, an ἀνδριάς; also, in Daniel 3:1; cf. Isaiah 44:13.—This great image, whose brightness was excellent. In the Chaldee the words “this image great and its brightness magnificent” are inserted as a parenthesis into the sentence, “and behold a great image stood before thee.” The exceeding brightness of the image results naturally from the metals which compose it.—The form (rather “appearance”) thereof was terrible; this on account of its brightness as well of its greatness; compare Song of Solomon 6:4.
Daniel 2:32. This image’s head was of fine gold. Literally, “this image, its head,” etc. The position of the absolute הוּא צַלְמָא at the beginning of the sentence, is similar to Daniel 2:29-30, and Daniel 2:33 b, Daniel 2:37, Daniel 2:42, etc.—The stat. constr. רֵאשׁ ought properly to be repeated before דּי, the sign of the genitive; cf. Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:19; also Psalms 45:7; Ezra 10:13, etc.
Daniel 2:33. His legs of iron. On שָׁקִין “shanks,” compare Song of Solomon 5:15—His feet part of iron and part of clay; literally, “of them of iron, and of them of clay.” In the Kethib the masculine suffix is appended to the partitive &מִנְּהוֹן מִן; likewise in Daniel 2:41-42. The Keri employs, in each of these cases, the form מִנְּתָן which the fem. רְגַל might lead us to expect, but which must probably be regarded as an easier reading. The masculine suffix in מִנְּהוֹן, like הִמּוֹן in Daniel 2:34, for example, and like the suffix הוֹן in Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:19, must either be regarded as a common gender (Hitzig), or these masculine forms must be explained by a more general conception of the subject, or by one modified according to the sense,—in this case by transferring the thought from the figure to the fact to which it relates, i.e., the conception “foot” to the other idea “kingdom,” which is symbolized by it (so Kranichf., following Ewald, Lehrb., p. 784, § 318,a).
Daniel 2:34. Till that a stone was cut out. Naturally a stone that lay on the side of a mountain, from whence it rolled. This stone enters suddenly and unannounced into the transaction; as often happens in dreams.—Without hands, i.e., without human, but solely through a supernatural and Divine agency; compare Daniel 8:25, בְּאֶפָס יָד; also Job 34:20; Lamentations 4:6; Hebrews 9:11.
Daniel 2:35. Then was the iron, the clay, etc., broken to pieces together. דָּקוּ instead of דַּקּוּ; the lengthening of the preceding vowel compensates for the Dag. Forte. The impersonal subject in the plural (“they broke in pieces,” cf. Daniel 2:30) refers to the invisible supernatural powers, who effected the appearance of the stone itself and the consequent destination. The several component parts of the image, iron, clay, etc., are in this place recited from below upward, because the stone smote and crushed the feet first.—And became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; hence were totally demolished, annihilated without leaving a vestige. Compare Hosea 13:3; Micah 4:13; Isaiah 41:15-16; Isaiah 57:13; Psalms 1:4; Psalms 35:5; Job 21:18.—And the stone.… became a great mountain. טוּר, mountain, is the Heb. צוּר, rock. On the hyperbolical phrase “to fill the whole earth” (not merely “the whole land,” as Van Ess, and others) compare John 21:25. and also the apocryphal parallels in Fabric., Cod. Apocr. N. T., I., 321 seq. The exaggeration, however, holds with regard to the figure only, not to the symbolized reality, see Daniel 2:44.
Daniel 2:36. Transition to the interpretation of the dream. We will tell the interpretation thereof to the king. נֵאמַר, in the plural, is used because Daniel classes himself among the worshippers of Jehovah, all of whom, as such, have access to the mysteries of Divine revelation. It is therefore an expression of modesty, similar to that contained in Daniel 2:30. [Daniel seems specially to refer to his three companions, who had been associated with him in prayer for the Divine aid in recovering and expounding the dream, Daniel 2:17-18; Daniel 2:23.]
Daniel 2:37-45. The interpretation.—Thou, O king, art a king of kings. מֶלֶךְ מַלְכַיָּא the general title of Oriental sovereigns, e.g., according to the cuneiform inscriptions, among the Persians (cf. Ezra 7:12); among the Ethiopians of modern Abyssinia (Inscr., 5138); and especially among the Babylonians; compare Ezekiel 26:7, where, as here, Nebuchadnezzar is termed a king of kings. For the rest, the form “Thou, O King” is taken up again below, in Daniel 2:38 b, by אַנְתָּה הוּא; for which reason מֶלֶךְ מַלְכַיָּא is really to be regarded as in apposition, and the period extended to the close of Daniel 2:38; for Daniel 2:37 b (דִּי to יְהַב־לִךְ) is merely a relative clause, and Daniel 2:38 a (וּבְכָל־דִּי to בְּכָלְהוֹן) is a parenthetical supplement to it.34—The God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom (or dominion), power, and strength, and glory. For the connection of the relative דִּי with the pronoun of the second person לָךְ, compare, e.g., Ecclesiastes 10:16. On the idea, Daniel 4:19; Daniel 5:18.
Daniel 2:38. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, etc. On וּבְכָל־דִּי, “and wheresoever,” compare the essentially equivalent בַּאֲשֶׁר, Judges 5:27; Ruth 1:17; Job 39:30. The inserted adverbial כָּל strengthens the idea of the relation, as in כָּל־קְבֵל דִּי, etc.—Instead of דָּארִין “dwelling” (part of דּוּר; cf. the Heb. דּוֹר, “race, generation”) the Keri has here and in Daniel 3:31; Daniel 4:32; Daniel 6:26, דָּיְרִין, which form is usual in the Targums.—Beasts of the field and fowls of the heaven. This mention of the animals as also subject to the great monarch, serves to enforce and strengthen the corresponding statement with reference to men; similarly Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 28:14—which passages Daniel probably had in view; also Bar 3:16; Jdt 11:7, etc.,—[“Nebuchadnezzar’s dominion did not, it is true, extend over the whole earth, but perhaps over the whole civilized 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.).”—Keil. “That this method of describing extensive dominion was common to the Shemitic dialects, is evident from Genesis 1:26; Psalms 8:6-8; comp. Hebrews 2:7-8.”—Stuart.]—Thou art this head of gold. [In אַנְתְּה הוּא the הוּא is an emphatic copula, as in Daniel 2:47. “It carries a kind of demonstrative force with it, like that of the Greek οὐτος, and is equivalent to Thou art the very or that same.”—Stuart. Strictly, the clause might be rendered, “Thou art it, the head of gold,” and this would yield the exact force of the expression.] Read רֵאשָׁח; the form רֵאשָׁהּ (or רֵאשֵׁהּ, as Hitzig prefers) seems to have been taken from Daniel 2:32. Still, שְׁמֵהּ, Daniel 2:20, might perhaps be adduced in support of this reading; see Hitz. on the passage.—The reason why Daniel designates Nebuchadnezzar himself as the golden head, instead of his kingdom, lies simply in the fact that the first (even though he were yet co-regent with his father Nabopolassar) gave to the Chaldæan empire its glory and world-wide greatness and importance; so that he could not only be considered the founder of this first world-monarchy, but might also, in a measure, be identified with it. Especially might this occur in the address of a speaker, who would ex-officio be compelled to magnify his fame, because he stood before the king in person, and in the presence of his court. How easily our author could identify a realm (מַלְכוּ) with its sovereign (מֶלֶךְ) is shown by Daniel 7:17, where “four kings” is almost exactly synonymous with “four kingdoms.”
Daniel 2:39. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, אַרְעָא probably does not signify “earthward, toward the earth,” as is generally assumed; nor can we, with the Keri, consider אֲרַע as an adverb.35 It may be taken instead as a casus adverbialis from עֲרַע (=Heb. שָׁפָל), “a low object,”—analogous to the adverbial עֵלָּא, “above, upward,” from עֵל, “height,” Daniel 6:3; and as there עֵלָּא מִנְּחוֹן signifies “higher than they, above them,” so here אַרְעָא מִנָּךְ may mean “below, inferior to thee.” The characterizing of the second kingdom as inferior to the first, which Nebuchadnezzar represented, does not, however, relate to its external power; for it is certainly also conceived of as a world-controlling kingdom, a universal monarchy, as appears abundantly from Daniel 6:26. Its inferiority to the former kingdom can only consist in a lower standard of morals, as also the third and fourth kingdoms can only be regarded as below their immediate predecessors in an ethical sense, but not physically or politically. This follows with the utmost clearness from the descending gradation of gold, silver, brass, and iron, as compared with he increasing magnitudes of the corresponding parts, the head, breast, belly, and legs of the image, a thought which lies at the foundation of the whole description (cf. on Daniel 2:40, and especially Dogmat.-eth. deductions, No. 3). Considering all this, it seems decidedly superfluous and inappropriate to refer the second kingdom to Belshazzar, as the successor of Nebuchadnezzar, and reserve the third for Medo-Persia (Hitzig, Heidelberg. Jahrb., 1832. p. 131 ff., and Redepenning, Stud. und Krit., 1833, p. 863). The suffix in בַּתְרָךְ and in מִנָּךְ does not at all compel us to assume that only Nebuchadnezzar’s reign is designated by the golden head, and that therefore the breast of silver must refer to his successor on the throne of Babylon. Daniel probably conceived of the first and second kingdoms as monarchies under the rule of a succession of kings, as well as the fourth (see Daniel 2:43-44); and the courtesy simply, which he was obliged to observe toward the great monarch who was personally before him, led him, in this and the preceding verses, to mention Nebuchadnezzar only as the representative of the first kingdom (see above).—And another, third kingdom of brass which shall bear rule over all the earth. Its ethical inferiority to both its predecessors is indicated by the brass, while the relative clause דִּי תִשְׁלַט בְּכָל־אַרְעָא (compared with Daniel 2:38 d) seems to imply that the extent of its power should even exceed theirs. It may be remarked, in passing, how clearly this indicates the Macedonian world-monarchy.
Daniel 2:40-43. The fourth kingdom, corresponding to the fourth beast, Daniel 7:7 et seq., and like it signifying the divided Greek supremacy under the successors of Alex. the great. The fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron. On the relation of the form רְבִיעָיָא in the Kethib, which is analogous to the usage of the Syriac, to the purer Chaldaic Keri רְבִיעָאָח (here and Daniel 3:25; Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:23), see Kranichfeld on the passage. The following explains the meaning of the predicate “strong as iron.—Forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; rather, “crusheth all things.” כָּל־קְבֵל דִּי is clearly not to be taken in its usual signification, “since,” but comparatively, “just as;” compare Daniel 6:11. The opinion that it stands here in its usual sense as=because (Kranichf., etc.), is opposed by the Athnach under the preceding כְּפַרְזְלָא, which shows that “to break in pieces and crush everything” is not merely stated to be a constant property of iron, but has its application to the nature of the fourth kingdom. [Keil labors at length to sustain this illative rather than illustrative sense of כָּל־קְבֵל דּי, but the arguments on both sides are very trivial, and the difference is not important.]—As iron that breaketh in pieces all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. The וּכְפַרְזְלָא דִּי־מְרָעַע is no “offensive and dragging repetition of the already completed comparison,” but rather serves to powerfully emphasize the iron-like destructive character of the fourth kingdom. The hardness and firmness of iron, however, and still more its solidity and durability, are not involved in the comparison, so much as its destructive power, as appears from the multiplication of verbs that express the idea of destroying (הדק, to divide, חשׁל, to crush, רעע, to break in pieces—the first and last of which are repeated). כָּל־אִלֵּין, “all these,” an individualizing resumption of the more general כֹּלָּא, does not belong to the relative clause וּכְפַרְזְלָא דִּי־מְרָעַע (Kranichf.), but to תַּדִּק וְתֵרֹעַ, which verbs would otherwise stand too disconnected at the close of the verse. There is nothing suspicious in the fact that, by this construction a breaking to pieces of “all these,”—i.e., the materials already mentioned, gold, silver, etc.—by the fourth kingdom, is stated; for it does not assert the destruction of all former kingdoms as such, but only the increasing diminution and shattering of their politico-ethnological material. The passage thus merely represents, in general, the separating and destructive influence which, naturally to its own injury, emanates from the fourth kingdom. The way is thus paved for the description which follows, of the divisions, internal confusion, and weakness of that kingdom (Daniel 2:41-43).
Daniel 2:41. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter’s clay. מִנְּהוֹן as in Daniel 2:33. The addition of דִּי־פֶהָר, “of the potter,” to חֲסַף, “clay,” strengthens the conception of weakness and lack of power which is implied in that term. The same idea results from the genitive combination חֲסַף טִינָא “miry clay, potsherds,” which occurs at the end of the verse; it designates the finished work of the potter (Vulg. testa), which, as sherd, is capable of being easily broken.—The kingdom shall be divided, i.e., a kingdom that contains in itself the principle of an increasing disruption and self-division. The dual number of the legs, which might have been made to indicate such division (especially if the colossus were conceived as standing with widely-extended legs), is, evidently, not regarded by the composer. Nothing but the mixture of iron and clay forms the symbol of division in his view; and this mixture, according to him, pertains only to the feet, and does not extend to the legs, which are represented in Daniel 2:33 a, as composed entirely of iron. This indicates that the division, although its principle was inherent in the iron-kingdom (see on the preceding verse),36 should only be thoroughly manifested, and its ruinous consequences become apparent in the course of the development of this kingdom; facts which were very fully realized in the history of the Macedonian empire after Alexander, whose rulers endeavored to maintain the unity of the realm down to the battle of Ipsus, although engaged in many conflicts and bloody quarrels with each other, and which only, from the period of that event, permanently dissolved into a number of kingdoms (originally four, from which, however, a constantly increasing number of smaller independent states was developed). Compare infra.—But there shall be in it of the strength of iron. Luther renders “of the iron’s plant,” corresponding to נִיצְבָּא in the Targums, and to the Syr. nezbeto (cf. also Theodot. ἀπὸ τῆς ῥίζης and Vulg.: de plantaris). But נִצְבְּתָא is probably derived from יְצַב in Pa. “to fortify, strengthen,”—and therefore to be rendered firmness, strength (cf. יַצִּיב, firm, certain, Daniel 2:8; Daniel 2:45; also Daniel 3:24; Daniel 6:13, etc.), rather than from נְצַב, to plant.
Daniel 2:42. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay. The nominative which precedes is really disconnected (cf. Daniel 2:32), but, since it is in comparison with the latter half of the verse, “as,” or “just as,” it may properly be supplied. The composition of even the toes out of the fatal mixture of iron and clay, indicates the weakness of the feet which support the great colossus, despite the fact that iron enters into its constitution throughout, as a principal element. That Daniel, while mentioning the toes, already refers to the ten kings of the Seleucidæ, who are represented later (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:24) as the ten horns of the fourth beast, cannot be certainly shown. At any rate, he follows this thought no further, as will be seen from the fact that while he mentions the toes, he does not premise their tenfold number (cf. Hitzig on this passage, against Hengstenb., p. 211. The latter clearly forces the symbol of the toes too far).—So the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly brittle (margin). Concerning מִן קְצָת, “chiefly, partly,” see on Daniel 1:2.
Daniel 2:43. They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; i.e., the several kingdoms, or rather their rulers, shall seek to establish harmony by means of marriage and voluntary relationship (hence in this way of sexual propagation).37 On the expression, compare Jeremiah 31:27; on the subject, Daniel 11:6 et seq. and 17, where the prophet enters more fully into the subject here referred to, of the adoption of the marriage policy, and of its failure.—But they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay; properly, “does not mingle itself with clay.” ’ The reflexive Ithpaal of עֲרַב designates the process of mixing or uniting itself, while the Pael, employed above in Daniel 2:41 b, expresses a passive sense. This involves the idea that the elements of iron and clay might be externally mixed, but could not be internally united, because their qualities do not blend, i.e., they contribute nothing themselves to their coherence and permanent union.
Daniel 2:44-45. The fifth, or Messianic kingdom. And in the days of these kings; hence, while these kings, the Seleucidæ, Lagidæ, and the other Diadochi, are still reigning; and therefore not without being involved in strife and conflict with them: cf. b, and Daniel 7:13; Daniel 7:25 et seq.; Daniel 8:10 et seq.; Daniel 9:24,et seq.—Shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom. On “God of heaven,” compare on Daniel 2:18; Daniel 2:37. The highest and only true God appears there as the originator and supreme lord of all kingdoms (cf. Daniel 2:21); but this fifth and last kingdom alone, is, in the full sense of the word and with unqualified truth, a kingdom of specifically divine and heavenly character. This implies its miraculous origin as well as its never-ending duration.—The kingdom (rather, “its dominion”38) shall not be left to other people. This had occurred at the end of each of the former kingdoms; compare Sir 10:18. The cessation of such transfers of dominion circumscribes the idea of eternal duration in a realizing manner. The term מַלְכוּ in וּמַלְכוּתָהּ is evidently no longer used in the same sense as before, but signifies “dominion,” “government.” The suffix does not refer to the God of heaven as the founder of the kingdom (Theodotion, ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ), but to the kingdom itself.—It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, וְתָסֵף is literally, “and bring to an end”—annihilate them. The Divine kingdom is not merely to destroy the fourth world-kingdom, but also the three that preceded it, inasmuch as all had been incorporated with the former; which is shown by the figure of the stone that crushes the legs of the colossus, and thereby destroys the whole image. All these kingdoms are thus described as arrayed in hostile opposition to the divine kingdom, and as objects of its destructive influence; but this does not prevent the existence of certain gradations in their hostility to God and in their untheocratic tendencies; nor that, for instance, the golden head (Babylon) and the breast of silver (Medo-Persia) show greater favor and ethical approximation to God’s people, than the brazen belly, etc. Compare supra, on Daniel 2:39.
Daniel 2:45. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain, etc. כָּל־קְבֵל דִּי is employed here as in Daniel 2:40, in a comparative sense, like כַּאֲשֶׁר, “accordingly,” or “forasmuch.” From this usage results a closer connection of the former half of this verse (as far as וְדַהֲבָא) with what precedes it. The somewhat loosely connected and abrupt position which the second period, beginning with אֱלָהּ רַב, is thus made to occupy, need not deter us from this construction (against Hitzig and Kranichf.), which was employed by all the old translators (and also by Luther, Dereser, Von Leng., Maur., etc.).—On the subject compare Matthew 21:44; Luke 20:18, where Jesus clearly refers this Messianic prophecy to himself and his kingdom.—The (rather “a”) great God hath made known to the king, etc. “A great God,” says Daniel, because he desires to refer to the infinite power of that God, who is not only able to disclose wonderful revelations respecting the future, but also to bring his promises to pass. The mode of expression is not exactly poetical, as Kranichfeld supposes, but generalizing. But compare אֱלָחָא רַבָּא, with the article, Ezra 5:8. [On the contrary, Keil more justly remarks, “That אלהּ יב 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.” The sign of definiteness (as the art. in Heb.) is omitted on the general principle that the construction by a qualifying adjective renders the term sufficiently definite, inasmuch as there could be no doubt what deity is referred to.]—What shall come to pass hereafter. אַחֲרֵי דְנָה, “after this, hereafter,” refers specially to the time of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Daniel 2:29), and not merely to the incident in the former half of the verse, as Hitzig contends, in order to find here an additional trace of the composition of this book in Maccabæan times.—And the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. This is an emphatic affirmation at the close of the truly prophetic character of the dream and of the interpretation that had been submitted. The predicate יַצִּיב with חֶלְמָא hardly refers, as Kranichfeld supposes, to the fact that the king had forgotten the particulars of his dream, and now recovered them accurately and perfectly. It is better to hold, in harmony with the preceding context, that Daniel aims to set forth the trustworthiness and prophetic force of the dream, as he afterward certifies the correctness of the interpretation by מְהֵימַן, “faithful, trustworthy.”
Daniel 2:46-49. The influence of Daniel’s interpretation. Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel. Evidently סְגִד does not here signify a mere προσκύνησις, such as was sometimes offered to men (cf. Genesis 31:7; Genesis 2:0 Sam. 25:23; 1 Kings 1:16; Esther 3:2), but rather a properly divine adoration (λατρεία), as is shown by the connected religious acts of sacrifice and burning incense. This he offers to Daniel as a great prophet of the highest God (see Daniel 2:47), and not because he considered him a god in human form, as the inhabitants of Lystra regarded Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:13 et seq.). For this reason the course of Daniel is unlike that of the apostles on the latter occasion. He no more rejects the homage of the heathen king, than did the high-priest Jaddua, when Alexander the great bowed himself to the earth before him, in order to honor the God of Israel (Josephus, Anti. XI. 8, 5); at any rate, he has not definitely recorded that he protested against it and pointed from himself, the human instrument, to his God—which might, however, be explained on the ground of his abbreviating style (cf. on Daniel 2:15 et seq.). [We must not forget that Daniel had already explicitly disclaimed before the king the possession of supernatural powers as of himself (Daniel 2:36), and had repeatedly ascribed foreknowledge to God alone (Daniel 2:28; Daniel 2:45).] The opinion of Geier, Calov, and others, that Nebuchadnezzar merely worshipped in the presence of Daniel, without addressing his homage to the prophet (—as if סְגִד לְ were synonymous with ס׳ קְָדָם), must be rejected; and no less the assertion of Hitzig, that the objective aim of the Maccabæan compiler is again betrayed in this instance, by the “highly improbable behavior of the king” (!?).39—And commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. נְסַךְ, in the Pael “to pour out, deal out, libare” (not “to dedicate, offer,” as Hitzig, with an unnecessary reference to the corresponding Arabic verb, prefers), is zeugmatic in this place, and relates not only to the bringing of the מִנִחָח, “meat-offering,” which included an actual libare, but also the נִיחֹחִין i.e., sweet-smelling savors, offerings of incense, which were connected with all meat-offerings. The offering of incense, therefore, which was really implied in the מִנְחָח (Leviticus 2:1; Leviticus 2:15, etc.), is again explicitly noticed, in like manner as the קְטֹיֶת is specially mentioned beside the עלה and the מִנְחָח, in Exodus 30:9. On the term נִיחוֹחַ (literally “satisfaction, pleasantness”), here used elliptically without רֵיחַ, which is constantly joined to it in the Hebrew (cf. Ezra 6:10, Chaldee text), see Gesenius-Dietr. in the Handwörterbuch.—The tropical conception of the offering of sacrifice and incense as a purely civic testimonial of honor (Bertholdt) is decidedly improper, and leads to a rationalizing of the passage hostile to both the language and the context. Compare the well-known Persian custom of offering sacrifices to kings as the representatives of Ormuzd, which is mentioned in Curtius, Daniel 8:5-6; Daniel 6:6; Daniel 6:2; Arrian, Daniel 6:27.
Daniel 2:47. Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods. On מִן־קְשׁוֹט see above, on Daniel 2:8; compare בִּקְשׁוֹט, Judges 9:15; also Jeremiah 22:13.— דִּי stands emphatically before the remark, similar to ὅτι in the Greek, but has greater significance than the latter. “God of gods” does not, in the mouth of the heathen Nebuchadnezzar, designate the only true God (Von Leng.), but the mightiest of all gods. The phrase here expresses a different sense from Daniel 11:36; Psalms 136:2; Deuteronomy 10:17.
Daniel 2:48. Then the king made Daniel a great man. רַבִּי the Pael of רְבָח, “to become great” (Daniel 4:8) hence, “to make great, exaltare.” [“It is more fully defined by the following clauses.”—Keil.]—And made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon; not as Von Leng. supposes, over the whole kingdom, but simply over the province, מְדִינָא, therefore, as in Daniel 3:2. The bestowal of a formal governorship or satrapy is not implied in the verb אשׁלט here, or in Daniel 2:38. What really was conferred on the prophet, was probably merely a decisive influence over the administration of the province of Babylon, as is illustrated by Daniel 2:49. [Still this civil appointment, in distinction from the literary or professional one immediately added, was tantamount to an official position as recognized vice-regent over the province in which the capital was situated.]—And chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. וְרַב־סִגְנִיו still depends on חַשְׁלְטֵהּ, which verb therefore zeugmatically designates, first his elevation to political power, and then to the dignity of chief priest. סְגַן (related to סכן, periclitari, tentare, in the Heb. utilitati esse, officia, praestare; cf. סֹכֵן, minister) is equivalent to “business-manager, president, overseer;” a רַב־סִגְנִין is therefore a superintendent or chief præfect, and the “Rab-Signin over all the wise men of Babylon” accordingly seems to have been identical with the רַב־מג or “chief magian” mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3. On the probable identity of the terms חַכִּימִין and מָגִים and the relation of both to כַּשְׂדִּים, see above on Daniel 2:2.
Daniel 2:49. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set, etc. וּמַֹנִּי properly, “and (so) he set;” for ו must be joined to the imperfect, in order to express the sense of “that” (Winer, § 44, 4). בְּעָא therefore signifies an effectual asking in this passage, a prevailing with the king.—Over the affairs of the province of Babylon. עֲבִידְתָּא, “management of business, administration” (cf. &עֲבדַת חַמֶּלֶךְ 1 Chronicles 26:30). The effect of this “placing over the administration of the province of Babylon,” was, evidently, to include the three friends of Daniel among the &כֹּל שִלְטוֹנֵי מְדִינָתָא Daniel 3:2, whatever may have been their official title. But their elevation to the rank of Shiltonim to the king involved no receding on the part of Daniel from the political dignity conferred on him, according to Daniel 2:48 (Porphyry, Berth., Hitz., etc.). It rather serves to illustrate the powerful influence of the new royal favorite and councillor. But Daniel was only this, not an actual chief satrap of Babylon, to whom the three friends might have been subordinate. See Daniel 2:48, and compare Daniel 3:12, which clearly indicates that Daniel did not belong to the number of prominent civil functionaries of the province of Babylon. [On the contrary, the passage here referred to only shows that Daniel’s three friends were, as here stated, the persons directly responsible for the civil functions in a certain district; evidently as subordinates under some single higher officer, who in this case could be no other than Daniel himself—a personage too high for direct impeachment by these officious underlings.]—But Daniel sat in the gate of the king, i.e., within the bounds of his palace, at his court. Compare שַׁעַר חַמֶּלֶךְ Esther 2:1; Esther 2:9; Esther 2:21; Esther 3:2 et seq.; also αἱ πυλαί (of the Medo-Persian court), Cyropædia, VIII. 1, and the Turkish “Porte,” —and generally, Rosenmüller, Altes u. Neues Morgenland, III. 399 ff. Incorrectly Bertholdt and Gesenius (Jesaias, i. 697), “He became intendant of the royal castle,”—on which Hävernick remarks, with justice: “It is hardly conceivable how such nonsense could be imputed to our book.” [“The chief ruler of the province had a number of ὑπαρχοι, 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 himself be able as chief ruler to reside continually at the court of the king.”—Keil.]
ethico-fundamental principles related to the history of salvation, apologetical remarks, and homiletical suggestions
We are compelled, in view of the great importance of the image of the monarchies for a correct estimate of the Messianic and practical bearing of all that follows, to separate our dogmatical and ethical observations on this vision into several sections. Accordingly, we treat first of its form; next of the circumstances of the times, which afforded suitable analogies for its prophetico-historical composition; in the third place, of the symbolism of the image as a-whole; fourthly, of the interpretation of the four world-kingdoms, and especially of the second, third, and fourth; and finally, of the relation of the prophetic vision to the history of the founding and development of the Messianic kingdom—the whole to be followed by practical homiletical remarks.
1. The form of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision is distinguished from that of almost all the other prophetic visions of the Old Testament, by the peculiarity, that it is a dream-vision, under which mysterious form its highly important prophetic contents are revealed first to a powerful heathen monarch. The dreams of certain heathen princes of patriarchal times, e.g., of Abimelech, Laban, and Pharaoh (Genesis 20:3; Genesis 31:24; Genesis 41:1 et seq.), present the only analogy to this fact, so far as they were divinely occasioned, and had a direct reference to the fortunes of God’s people. But their contents lack the rich, lively dramatic and symbolic character of this vision; and in the double dream of Pharaoh, the single instance where this approximately exists (Genesis 41:0), we miss the far-reaching vision that covers all history, and the wealth of Messianic references, by which the dream-vision under consideration is so remarkably distinguished. The observation of Hävernick (Komm., p. 42 et seq.) respecting the dreams of heathen persons in the Scripture history, although instructive and worthy of approval in other respects, has only a partial application in this case: “We often (?) make the observation in the Scriptures, that whenever it became necessary to magnify the theocracy and the kingdom of God on earth—which could only be aided to accomplish its final destiny by means of miracles,—and whenever the welfare of the faithful required a special interference, revelations were imparted to heathen and unbelievers, and generally by means of dreams. Compare Genesis 20:3 (where it is expressly stated, with reference to Abimelech, ויבא אלח־ם וגו׳), Genesis 31:24; Genesis 41:0; Judges 7:13-14. At the same time, the Scriptures assign as the reason for such revelations the subjective aim, ‘to withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man,’ Job 33:17. This Divine purpose was directly favored by the solemn awe with which the heathen world regarded dreams (ὅνειροι θεῖοι, θεόπεμπτοι), as is proven by the characteristic and probably proverbial expression of Homer: και γαρ τʼ ὄναρ ἐκ Διός εστιν (Il. I. 63); cf. further, Il. II. 26 et seq.; Odys. VI. 13 et seq.; xxiv. 11, 12; Herod. VII. 16; also Knapp, Scripta varia arg., p. 103 ss.; Rosenmüller, A. u. N. Morgenl., III. 33 et seq.; Jahn, Einl. ins A. T., II. 391 et seq.”—An instructive article in the Evangel. Missions-Magazin, 1863, No. 1, which was written by Ostertag and entitled Der Traum und seine Wirkung in der Heidenwelt, treats of the important part which dreams continually play in the religious life of heathendom, and more especially, when it is aroused and influenced by Christian missionary efforts. Cf. also Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychologie, §14, p. 283 et seq., and Splittgerber, Schlaf und Tod, nebst den damit zusammenhängenden Erscheinungen des Seelenlebens (Halle, 1866), p. 144 et seq. The two latter distinguish more carefully than Hävernick, in the above passage, the dreams inspired merely by conscience and those of a divinely caused and presaging character, which were more frequent within the domain of heathendom, from the dreams of revelation in the proper sense, whose occurrence was much less common among gentile nations, being generally limited in the Old and New Testaments to the people of God. Among the former class they reckon, e.g., the dreams of Pharaoh; among the latter, the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, in chap. 2 and 4 of our prophet.
The important circumstance must be observed, in this connection, that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-vision relating to the four world-kingdoms was evidently imparted to this heathen monarch while in a state of violent and guilty terror, but in so confused and indefinite a form as to exceed his understanding, and as even to prevent a clear reproduction of its nature by the unaided efforts of his memory. In both respects he was compelled to seek the aid of an Israelitish prophet, as an instrument of the only true God to make known the purport of His revelation (cf. supra, on Daniel 2:1; Daniel 2:3). This feature is certainly remarkable, but by no means incomprehensible. The heathen experienced but a single impulse in the direction of prophecy; the clearly connected description and analysis of the image of the future which he had seen were reserved for the spiritual art of the theocratic seer. The startling impression which had been made on the mind of the king while dreaming, by the appearance of the bright colossus, its sudden fall, and its total destruction and annihilation predominated to an extent that destroyed his recollection, and left him, on awaking, with a mere sense of having seen something highly important and of great significance for his own future and for that of his kingdom. It was natural that this should at once give rise to the wish to recall the vision clearly, in order to ascertain more fully what it might portend; and that this desire should finally excite such alarm as to banish sleep. His condition is not without many parallels in the history of man’s spiritual life. The Egyptian ruler had, indeed, retained the contents of his prophetic dreams, and required Joseph for the purpose merely of interpreting their meaning;—in connection with which the much less startling character of the dreams must be regarded. But in more recent times many instances have been recorded, in which significant dreams were forgotten,—either wholly, or so far as details were concerned,—while they left a powerful impression in the mind of the dreamer (cf. Reitz, Historie der Wiedrgeborenen, I., p. 132 et seq.; Schubert, Symbolik des Traums, p. 211 [3d ed.]; by the same, Geschichte der Seele, II., p. 94 et seq.; Splittgerber, as above, p. 118 et seq.). And the ancient Roman poet Attius (Cicero, de divinitat., II. 21) has at least described the alarm produced, on the sudden awaking of the subject, by an impressive dream, in a manner which thoroughly recalls the behavior of Nebuchadnezzar as described in this chapter:
“Rex ipse Priamus somnio mentis metu
Perculsus, curis sumptus suspirantibus
Exsacrificabat hostiis balantibus.
Tum conjectorem postulat, pacem petens,
Ut se edoceret, obsecrans Apollinem,
Quo sese vertant tantæ sortes somnium.”
In view of all this there is nothing in the external form and dress of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision that removes it materially beyond the influence of conditioning circumstances, such as are elsewhere apparent in the surroundings of prophetic dream-visions. Consequently the credibility of the narrative cannot be assailed on psychological grounds, nor on any other; and the attempt of Von Lengerke, Bleek, Hitzig, and others, to stamp it as an imitation of the history of Pharaoh and Joseph, designed to encourage and strengthen the faith of the Israelites in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, must especially be rejected, as being decidedly arbitrary, since the peculiarities in the conduct and character of Nebuchadnezzar by far exceed the traits he manifests in common with his precursor Pharaoh, and also with his alleged imitator Antiochus.
2. In regard to the points of connection which existed in the state of the world for the prophetic image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, see Kranichfeld’s observation on Daniel 2:10 : “It is not recorded, as being unessential, how much information, in regard to his spiritual state at the time of the dream, the king imparted to the wise men, nor yet how much they were able to apprehend themselves in view of the political aspect of the times. The historical point of departure for the knowledge of the dream as a revelation, is found in a consideration that must pre-eminently concern a king as such, at the beginning of a newly-founded realm, and in the presence of a powerful and threatening contiguous state, viz.: the question respecting the fate of his dynasty and of his kingdom.” Cf. page Dan 120: “But the political constellation, even in the early years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, was not of a nature to prevent the writer from recognizing a powerful rival of the Chaldæan empire in the Median kingdom. Isaiah and Jeremiah had already pointed to the nations of the north, or specifically to Persia (Elam) and Media as the executors of the judgment that should come upon Babylon, cf. Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 21:2; Jeremiah 50:3; Jeremiah 50:9; Jeremiah 50:41; Jeremiah 51:11; Jeremiah 51:28.—Above all, Media stood as a powerful rival to the Chaldæan kingdom upon the historical arena, at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s entrance. The Medes were allied with the Babylonians in the destruction of Nineveh, and in that joint undertaking of an earlier period were already able to render powerful assistance; there are even indications that on that occasion the Babylonians saw the direction of their military enterprises principally in the hands of the Medes. They shared with the Babylonians in the possession of the Assyrian empire—the latter taking the western portion, while the former claimed chiefly the regions east and north-east of the Tigris. How greatly Nebuchadnezzar was obliged to dread the power of his neighbor is shown by his fortifications in the north, which were begun soon after his accession to the throne, and prosecuted with vigor during the greater part of his reign (cf. Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs und Babels, p. 218 et seq., p. 223); an Elamitic-Median war against Babylon appears to have transpired as early as the 11th or 12th year of his reign.”—If to these observations on the relations of Babylon to Medo-Persia, we add the remarks of the same exegete in relation to Javan, i.e., Greece, which was looming up in the distant political horizon of Nebuchadnezzar, and remember, that his western rival and probable successor to the power and greatness of Medo-Persia might be well known to a Chaldæan king about B. C. 600—since Sennacherib had already been engaged in a warm contest with an army of Greek mercenaries in Cilicia, about a century before; since further, such mercenaries were accustomed to serve in the Assyrian armies from the time of Esar-haddon, and in the Egyptian from the time of Psammetichus, and since the Lydian kings were involved in exhaustive and bloody wars with the Ionians, Dorians, and Æolians of Western Asia from about B. C. 610 (see Herod., I. 6; II. 152, 163, 169; Abydenus, in Euseb. Armen. ed. Aucher, I., p. 53; Berosus, Fragm. hist. Græcæ, II., 504 ed. Müller;—cf. supra, Introd. § 7, note 2),—it will be evident that all the conditions were present which could possibly be required for the originating of a dream-vision, by which a Chaldæan monarch about B. C. 600 was forewarned of the future overthrow of his dynasty through the agency of warlike neighboring states. More than an external historical occasion or impulse for the dream-vision, was not probably derived by the king from the peculiar state of existing political affairs. All that bears a really prophetic character in his vision is to be traced back to the direct agency of God, which was able to construct a majestic and united vision of the deepest prophetical significance, out of the extremely sporadic and imperfect natural materials that were provided in the range of the king’s political observation. Left to himself, Nebuchadnezzar, whether awake or dreaming, could merely have originated certain presentiments, or combinations of political wisdom, which at the best, must remain mere images of the fancy, or acute speculations. If his dream became a picture of the future that embraced the world and displayed the profoundest prophetic truths, a vision that was “certain, and the interpretation thereof sure” (see above, Daniel 2:45), this was entirely owing to the all-enlightening and revealing influence of the Divine Logos (John 1:9), who sought to glorify Himself and His prophet at the court of the powerful heathen king, in order thereby to kindle a shining light of Messianic consolation for His faithful ones of that age, as well as for those of the still darker periods of the future. Cf. infra, Ethico-fundamental principles, etc., on chap. 8, No. 3.
3. The symbolism of the image of the monarchies in general, namely, the succession of the four metals, gold, silver, brass, and iron, as also the distribution of these metals over the several parts of a colossal idol or statue in the human form, the contrast between the brittleness and weakness of this image and the world-filling greatness and solidity of the stone which takes its place, etc.; all these, like the fundamental conditions of the vision itself, may find their point of departure, or so to speak, their root, in certain relations and estimates of the time that naturally prevailed in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, while the peculiarity of their arrangement is doubtless, as before, to be traced back to the revealing influence of God. An underlying natural basis cannot be mistaken.
a. In the symbolizing of a succession of four world-kingdoms by a connection of four metals of steadily decreasing value. “A comparative view of the idea of a separation of the course of temporal development into four world-periods, which occurs elsewhere also, is instructive in this connection. We meet it in the Indian transformations within the limits of the four Yugs, in the Græco-Roman conception of four metallic œons (the ages of gold, silver, etc.), and also in the Parsee idea of four trees that have sprung from a single root, composed respectively of gold, silver, steel, and iron.40 Hesiod indeed, destroys the number four, by introducing a fifth kingdom between the kingdoms of brass and of iron, which is not of metal, and thus corresponds, in a measure, to the Messianic kingdom of Daniel, namely, the δικαιότερον καὶ ἄρειον, θεῖον γένος of the heroes; but irrespective of this feature, the constant and decided combination of the idea of world-periods with the precise number four, remains a noteworthy fact. And although the correspondence that has been indicated, for instance, in the case of Ovid as coming under the influence of Greek conceptions, must in all probability be regarded as based on that idea, and moreover, although the Persian idea of the four metallic trees, which has been referred to, may not have been uninfluenced by the representations of Daniel,—it will still be apparent, that the natural application of the number four to the ages of the world rests upon a profounder reason that inheres in the nature of things, and evidently, upon a natural and simple association with the four stages of human life. This connection of the number four with the periods of human life is especially easy in Daniel, since the four phases of development are illustrated by the image of man, as a personification of heathendom” (Kranichfeld, p. 118 et seq.). To what extent the application, in this case, of the idea of four ages of the world to the succession of Asiatic monarchies, is to be placed to the account of the natural or political meditations of Nebuchadnezzar, and how far it is of supernatural suggestion or positively revealed, cannot, of course, be definitely decided, especially in view of our extremely fragmentary knowledge respecting the scope of religious thought and the philosophy of human life among the Babylonians.
b. The comparison of the successive kingdoms with the several parts of a colossal human or idol image is also probably based on some heathen mode of conceiving and representing things, with which the dream-originating Divine principle of revelation may have connected itself. Daniel himself, indeed, indicates nothing whatever, either in his recapitulation of the dream or in the interpretation, that can show that the form, size, and natural dignity of the several parts (head, breast, belly, legs), contained any special symbolical reference to the character of the four world-kingdoms; and any attempt to construct such relations between the image and the objects symbolized is exposed to the danger of being involved in useless interpretations and idle pastimes, as may be seen in many older expositors, and even as late as in Starke (on Daniel 2:39; Daniel 2:41). But at any rate the size and position of the various parts merit consideration as a tertium compar., so far as the first kingdom, which is represented by the head, as the highest and most important, but also the smallest organ, may be conceived of as intensively more, but extensively less considerable, than the succeeding ones; as also each successive organ may signify an aggregation of peoples or states (cf. supra, on Daniel 2:39), which becomes steadily more worthless and degraded, from an internal (ethical) point of view, but as regularly increases in size and extent. In one respect, therefore, namely, so far as the decrease of internal moral worth (or dignity, according to the theocratic standard) among the four successive kingdoms is concerned, the symbolism of the various bodily parts yields the same result as that of the metals; while in another respect it leads to a contrary result, inasmuch as it represents these kingdoms as constantly extending their boundaries.
c. The final consideration,—whether the mysterious stone, that descends from the mountain and shatters the metallic image, representing, Messiah’s kingdom or the fifth world-monarchy, also contains features that may be traced back to the religio-political ideas of the ancient Babylonians, or whether, on the other hand, this closing incident of the whole vision must be regarded as purely supernatural in its character,—can hardly lead to a definite conclusion. Some approach to Messianic ideas and expectations, however, may have been contained in the religious estimate of the world current among that people, as well as in that of the Persians, the Greeks (compare what was remarked above concerning Hesiod and the Zoroastrian myth of the four trees), the ancient Germans and Scandinavians, etc. The stone that crushes the image of the monarchies or world-periods may, therefore, have been a conception taken from the Chaldæan or Babylonian circle of ideas, similar in its nature and tendency to those remarkable mythological approximations to the fundamental dogma of Christianity, which have justly been characterized as “mythological foreshadowings of the great truth: ‘The word was made flesh’ ” (Kahnis, Lutherische Dogmatik, III. 334; cf. 5. Osterzee, Das Bild Christi nach der Schrift, 69 et seq.; J. P. Lange, Das Apostolische Zeitalter, I., p. 237 et seq.).
4. The historical interpretation of the four kingdoms, or the application of the image of the monarchies to the facts of history in detail, involves no really serious difficulty upon the symbolic principles that have been established, in view of the definite statement by the prophet in Daniel 2:37-38, by which the golden head designates the Chaldæan empire of Nebuchadnezzar. The three succeeding kingdoms may therefore be discovered, without leaving room for doubt. They necessarily represent the three phases of development in the great Oriental universal monarchy, which followed next after the Chaldæan period; for the prophetic horizon, whether of the king or Daniel, did not embrace the Occident. The four world-kingdoms are developed without exception on one and the same geographical stage, on the soil of the Orbis orientalis, thus harmonizing with the Biblical representation under the symbol of a single colossal human image; and the only world-kingdoms of the Orient that arose after the overthrow of Babylon, and that equalled it in importance, were the Medo-Persian founded by Cyrus, and the Macedonian-Hellenistic, originated by Alexander the Great, the latter of which passed through two stages, viz.: the period of its undivided existence, and that of its constantly increasing division and disintegration under the post-Alexandrian Diadochi. These two, or, by a more correct enumeration three, final forms of the Oriental universal monarchy, are represented with the utmost clearness by the silver breast, the brazen (copper) belly, and the nether extremities which are at first of iron and then of intermingled iron and clay. The breast of silver designates the Medo-Persian kingdom, which first succeeded the golden head, or Babylon. It does not signify Media simply, for (1) at the time when the Median king Cyaxares (=Darius the Mede, see Introd. § 8, note 4) and his nephew and son-in-law Cyrus overthrew Babylon, the Persian tribe had already become so prominent within the Median realm as to warrant the designation of the whole kingdom by the names of both tribes, the Median, which was formerly predominant, and the Persian which had now become its equal. (2) Daniel accordingly refers to the whole world-kingdom which succeeded Babylon as a kingdom of “the Medes and Persians” (chap. Daniel 2:28; cf. the exposition of that passage), and even in the section relating to the reign of Darius the Mede (Daniel 6:9; Daniel 6:13; Daniel 6:16) he designates the religious code, which was in force throughout the kingdom, as “the law of the Medes and Persians,” thus characterizing it as a sacred ordinance that rested on the common consent of both the nationalities that had united under a single government.41 (3) In exact correspondence with this is his representation of the Medo-Persian kingdom, in chap. 8. under the figure of a warlike ram, and his designation of a succession of two dynasties—a Median and a Persian—simply by the growth of two horns from the head of the ram, of which the smaller comes up first (Daniel 2:3; cf. Daniel 2:20). (4) Consequently, the instances in which he distinguishes Darius, or Cyrus, or succeeding kings, by the titles, respectively, of “king of the Medes,” or “king of the Persians,” must be regarded as referring, not to a diversity of realms, but simply to a difference of tribal relations among these rulers. (5) Further the vision of the four successive beasts, which is described in chap. 7. and which is doubtless parallel to that of the four elements in the image of the monarchies, does not accord with the assumption, on which the second beast, a carniverous bear, represents the kingdom of the Medes, while the third, a leopard with four wings, designates the Persian monarchy, which fact was scarcely distinct from the former (see infra on that passage). (6) Nor does Zechariah 6:0, which is an alleged parallel to the vision before us, warrant a conclusion in favor of the opinion that distinguishes between the Median and Persian kingdoms; for the red, black, white, and grizzled, and bay horses, mentioned in that place, do not designate various lands or kingdoms any more than do the horses with similarly varied colors, which are introduced by the same prophet in Daniel 1:7 et seq. (see Köhler, Die Nachexilischen Propheten 2:1, 69 et seq., 189 et seq.). (7) Finally, no conclusion in favor of the Median hypothesis can be deduced from the remark by Daniel in Daniel 2:39 a, that the second kingdom should be inferior to that of Nebuchadnezzar; for an ethical inferiority of the Persian kingdom to that of the Chaldæans might be readily asserted from a theocratic point of view, inasmuch as it clearly displayed a greater moral and social depravation under its later kings, than the former. Only Cyrus excelled the Chaldæan rulers in friendly and benevolent conduct toward the theocracy, while his immediate successors, Cambyses and Pseudo-Smerdis, treated the people of God with greater severity than had any Chaldæan king whatever (cf. also the sufferings inflicted on the Jews by Xerxes, according to the book of Esther, and also by Artaxerxes I, according to Ezra and Nehemiah).
But if, in view of these considerations, the second kingdom of the image of the monarchies represents Medo-Persia, there can be no further doubt as to the interpretation of the third, which is symbolized by the brazen, belly. It must necessarily designate the Macedonian world-kingdom of Alexander the Great, whose grand and rapid introduction, as if borne on the wings of the tempest, is represented in the parallel vision of chap. 7 by the figure of a leopard with four wings, but which receives consideration in this case (chap. 2), only so far as its ethical and religious inferiority in relation to its predecessors is concerned, and as the remark that it should “bear rule over all the earth” (Daniel 2:39 b) characterizes its external greatness. The kingdoms of the Hellenistic Diadochi, which arose from the universal monarchy of Alexander the Great, cannot be included in the third or brazen kingdom, since they present a picture of internal disruption, such as is clearly symbolized by the fourth monarchy of Daniel. The nether extremities of the colossus only, which were at first (in the legs) of iron, but afterward (in the feet and toes) a mixture of iron and clay, can be made to harmonize with the period of the Diadochi. In their interpretation, the legs, which are yet of iron, will probably refer to the time during which the immediate successors of Alexander endeavored at least to maintain the unity of the realm, despite their incessant quarrels and bloody conflicts,—hence down to the battle near Ipsus (B. C. 323–301); while the feet, which are in part of iron, and in part of clay, represent the succeeding state of growing dismemberment and hostile divisions (in which the kingdom of the Seleucidæ in Syria, and that of the Lagidæ in Egypt, were alone able to maintain, during a considerable period, a position of commanding power); cf. above, on Daniel 2:41-43. That this tom and corrupted state of the post-Alexandrian Hellenistic empire, so analogous to a putrefying gigantic carcass, and also that the vain attempts to heal the sores by means of intermarriages among the contending princely families, etc., should be already described and prefigured in the visions of a Chaldæan king about B. C. 600, can, of course, find an explanation only in the direct operations of the Divine Logos, by which the future is revealed (cf. No. 3). To base these features on a reference to the historical condition of Hellenism during the Chaldæan period, to its internal divisions and incurable discords, which were, at that early day, as apparent as was their warlike bravery, and further, to the custom of political marriages among princes, which was already frequently observed (Kranichfeld), seems inadequate, and involves the danger of an exaggerated naturalizing of the prophetic process in question. Nor can the custom of political marriages be shown to have existed in the time of Nebuchadnezzar among the Greeks (with whom we have chiefly to do, in this connection), although it prevailed in Medo-Persia and Egypt.
Finally, the fourth kingdom was, at an early period, made to signify the Roman universal dominion, so that its first stadium of unimpaired strength (the legs of iron) represented the period of the republic and the first emperors, and the second, divided and powerless stage (the feet of iron and clay) referred to the later empire, or even to the middle ages and more recent times (in which, according to Auberlen’s exposition of Daniel 2:43, the German and Sclavic nationalities were intermingled with the Roman); but this interpretation is opposed by many considerations. (1) It ascribes a range of vision over the future to the dreaming king and the prophetic interpreter, which lacks every support based on the actual condition of the times, since, as is well known, the greatness and world-historical importance of Rome were unknown until four hundred years after the captivity. Unlike the sections of the prophecy which relate to Persia and Javan, this would have no foundation in existing relations, but rather, would be of an abstractly supernatural character. (2) The כִּתִּים mentioned in Daniel 11:30, although already identified with the Romans by the Septuagint and the Vulgate, must rather be regarded as a race of Greek islanders, in view of the constant usage of the word elsewhere in the Old Testament, and more especially, because there is no indication of the identity of these Chittim with the fourth world-kingdom, either in chap. 11, or elsewhere. They are simply noticed in that connection, like the northern and southern kingdoms, as a constituent part of the Javanic or Hellenistic empire. (3) The symbolic details comprehended in the fourth or lowest world-kingdom according to Nebuchadnezzar’s vision—the legs of iron, the feet and toes part of iron and part of clay, etc., appear natural and suitable when applied to the development of Hellenism after Alexander, and particularly in the era of the Seleucidæ and the Ptolemies, while they lead to results of a more or less arbitrary character, with every attempt to demonstrate the Roman hypothesis; e.g., the view of Buddeus, Hengstenberg, and others, by, which the two legs of iron designate the eastern and western empires after Honorius and Arcadius, and that of Cocceius, which regards the iron and the clay as indicating the separation of the Roman power into a spiritual and a material kingdom (papacy and empire), etc. (4) That the collocation of the world-monarchy of Alexander and the kingdoms of the Diadochi as forming one and the same מַלְכוּ, a position that becomes necessary on this view, although supported by Daniel 8:21 (where a grouping into a מַלְכוּת יָיָן has actually come to pass), is yet shown by Daniel 11:4, to be decidedly opposed to the real meaning of the prophet (cf. 1 Macc. (Daniel 1:1; Daniel 1:7 et seq.). (5) Finally, the figure of a stone, that destroys the image, is positively false as a representation of the triumph of Christianity over the world-power, if the Roman power be regarded as the fourth and final phase of the development of the latter; for this was not overthrown and destroyed suddenly and at a blow by the kingdom of Christ, like the statue by the stone, but instead, it incorporated Christianity with itself, and continued, as Christianized Rome, to bear rule over the earth during more than a thousand years. It might, therefore, be more properly identified with the stone, than described as a potency inimical to it; but it can, in any case, find no place in the series of pre-Messianic world-kingdoms that were hostile to His reign. [To these arguments we add the marked coincidences, between the several visions of Daniel respecting these four great world-powers, as exhibited in the harmonic table inserted in the introduction; and we call especial attention to the almost perfect parallel between the two “little horns” in each case. Now as one of these is admitted on all hands to refer to Antiochus Epiphanes, the other, if identical, is, of course, a constituent likewise of the Syrian empire of the Seleucidæ, as the fourth Oriental monarchy. The discrepancies alleged by Keil, p. 258 et seq., as arguing a different interpretation of the little horns respectively, will be duly noticed in the exposition of the passages themselves.]
For these reasons we adopt that exposition of the four kingdoms which Bertholdt (Daniel, 1:192 et seq.) has recently advocated with penetration and fairness, after Polychronius, Grotius, Tossanus, Zeltner, and others, had asserted its principal features. We differ from Bertholdt, however, in failing to deduce anything that argues the composition of Daniel’s prophecy in the period of the Seleucidæ and Asmonæans, from the reference of the feet of iron and of clay to the times of the later Diadochi, since, as will be shown more in detail hereafter, we regard the reference of passages like Daniel 7:8 et seq.; Daniel 9:24 et seq. to Antiochus Epiphanes as not conflicting with the authenticity of the book. We accordingly reject the following interpretations, which differ from ours in various particulars:
(a.) That of Bunsen (cf. Introd. § 4, note 1), which applies the golden head to Assyria, in harmony with the alleged original interpretation by Daniel, the breast of silver to Babylon, the brazen belly to Media, and the iron legs to Persia, but which is thus guilty, not only of a direct contradiction of Daniel 2:38 (“thou art this head of gold”), but also of a misconception that conflicts with history, in relation to the intimate; connection, and even essential identity of the kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon, which could never have been contrasted as gold and silver, or the lion and the bear (cf. Daniel 7:5 et seq.)42
(b.) That of Hitzig and Redepenning (see above, on Daniel 2:39 a), which refers the head and breast to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, as the only Babylonian kings whom the author is said to have known, and which is therefore, at least, a partial reproduction of the scheme formerly attempted by the Swede, H. Benzel (Dissert, de quatuor orbis monarchiis, 1745), and by Harenberg, Dathe, and Hezel, to personify the four kingdoms (regarding them as metonymies for four Babylonian kings).
(c.) The view of Ephraem Syrus, Venema, Eichhorn, V. Lengerke, Bleek, de Wette, Kirmss, Hilgenfeld, Delitzsch, Kranichfeld (and conditionally, i.e., so far as it conforms to the views under a and b, also of Ewald, Bunsen, and Hitzig), that the head represents Babylon, the breast Media, the belly Persia, and the legs Greece and the Diadochian kingdoms (see for the contrary, above, No. 4).
(d.) The “orthodox” view, which refers the first three kingdoms to Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece, but the fourth to Rome and the states which have sprung from it since the empire; early represented by Josephus (Ant. X. 10, 4), by a majority of church-fathers—especially by Jerome, Orosius, and Theodoret; also by all the expositors of the Middle-age church after Walafrid Strabo, and by a majority of moderns, of whom we mention Buddeus (Hist. eccles. p. 2. sect. 5, p. 619 ss.), Joach. Lange, Starke, Zeis, Velthusen (Animadversiones ad Daniel 2:27-45; Prag, 1783), Menken (Das Monarchienbild, Brem, and Aurich, 1809), Hengstenberg, Hävernick, Caspari (Die vier daniel. Weltmonarchien, in the Zeitschrift für luth. Theologie und Kirche, 1841, No. 4), Hofmann (Weissagung und Erfüllung, I. 276 et seq.), Keil (Einl. ins A. T. § 134, p. 443, [also in his Commentary on Daniel]), Gaussen (Daniel le Prophète, 2d. edit. 1850, I. 250 ss.), Auberlen (Daniel, etc., p. 42 et seq.), Zündel (Krit Unterss. etc., p. 74 et seq.), Kliefoth, Füller, Gärtner (in their expositions), Pusey (p. 58 ss.), Volck (Vindiciœ Dan., p. 7 ss.), [and the monographs added in the Introduction].—For the history of this orthodox-churchly interpretation of the image of the monarchies in older times, see Antiquœ et pervulgatœ de quatuor Monarchiis sententiœ plenior et uberior assertis, auct. J. G. Jano, 1728 (also in Breyer’s Histor. Magazin, vol. I, p. 114 et seq.); and in relation to its influence on the conception and representation of universal history during the 16th and 17th centuries, see Meusel, Bibliotheca historica, vol. I, pt. 1, p. 176 ss.43
5. The relation of the image of the monarchies, when correctly interpreted, to the history of the founding of Christianity, must be found, in view of the foregoing considerations, in the assumption that the destroying stone represents the kingdom of Christ at the time of its introduction on the historical arena, while the growth of the stone until it fills the earth, indicates its gradual extension over all the countries of the earth. The fulfillment of this closing incident of the prophetic vision as a whole, is therefore not confined exclusively to the initial period of the history of Christianity—as if the stone represented the pre-Messianic Israel, or any other historical agency preparatory to the advent of Christ; nor is it to be referred entirely to the future of Christianity—as if the destruction of the colossus of world-powers had not yet transpired, and the overthrow of the fourth monarchy were reserved for the final judgment or some other eschatological event. The descent of the stone and the overthrow of the image were rather realized in the history of salvation, when Christ, the stone that was rejected by the builders, ground His enemies to powder, and became the elect and precious corner-stone in Zion, upon which all the foes of God’s kingdom are henceforth to fall, and by which they are to be shattered and put to shame (Mat 21:42-44; 1 Peter 2:6-8; cf. Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 28:16). This closing scene of the vision is in the course of being steadily and increasingly fulfilled, inasmuch as, on the one hand, the destruction and dissolution of the world-powers, and on the other, the growth of the stone into a mighty mountain that fills the whole earth, are yet far from their Divinely appointed goal—however surely the world, together with Satan, its head, may have been long since judged in principle by the Spirit of Christ, and however clearly the only true God, who is declared in Christ, may have demonstrated, in a certain measure, his nature as the all supporting rock, from all eternity in the congregation of His faithful ones (as the “Rock of Israel,” Genesis 49:24; Deuteronomy 32:4 et seq., Isaiah 30:29; Isaiah 44:8; 1 Samuel 2:2, etc.; cf. the “rock of strength,” Isaiah 17:10; “rock of eternities,” Isaiah 26:4; “rock of refuge,” Psalms 94:22, etc.).—Here again we are compelled to reject several partial conceptions:
(a.) The identification of the stone or fifth monarchy with the Roman dominion (Grotius), which clearly leads to an improper naturalizing of the passage, so far as it confines itself simply to the earthly relations of the historical Roman empire; but which certainly includes an important measure of truth in so far as it regards the Roman world-power as a Divinely chosen and sanctioned bearer and promoter of the royal Messianic cause at the stage of its introduction (cf. supra, No. 4).
(b.) The one-sided and exclusive reference of the stone to the people of Israel (older Jewish expositors; Porphyry;—see, on the other hand, Jerome on the passage).
(c.) That interpretation of the stone by which it symbolizes merely the person of the Messiah, as distinct from the kingdom founded by Him (Cosmos Indicopleustes, and several rabbins, as Saadia, Ibn-Ezra, etc.; and, after them, especially J. Chr. Beermann. De monarchia quarta, in his Meditatt. politicœ, 1679, where he submits an interpretation of the several kingdoms that is otherwise entirely correct; cf. Bertholdt, as above, p. 215 et seq., in relation to Beermann, and partially against him).
(d.) The reference of the stone, not to the first, but to the second advent of Christ, and also to the erection of the Apocalyptic millennium, which is said to constitute the “fifth monarchy,” according to the true and actual meaning of the prophet. This view was held by the Chiliasts (Enthusiasts, Anabaptists) of the 16th and 17th centuries, and especially by the fanatical sect of Quintomonarchists or Fifth-monarchy men in England at the time of Cromwell (see Weingarten, Die Recolutionskirchen Englands, Berlin, 1868, p. 180 et seq.); also by several recent expositors of a subtile-chiliastic tendency, especially Auberlen (p. 42 et seq.; 248 et seq.;—in opposition to him see Kranichfeld. p. 113 et seq.). Several earlier exegetes of pietistic-chiliastic or theosophic temper, e.g., Joach. Lange, Starke, M. Fr. Roos, Mencken, etc., contented themselves with finding a prophetic reference to the millennium in the final destiny of the stone, hence in its development to a greatness that fills and controls the earth, which is entirely admissible in view of the above.
6. The practical and homiletical treatment of this chapter will dwell predominantly on either its historical or its prophetic features. The leading subjects for consideration will be either the answer to Daniel’s prayer and his promotion above the heathen wise-men, or the triumph of the kingdom of God over the world-powers.
a. The former theme is immediately connected with the subject of the preceding chapter, since Daniel’s promotion and honor were merely additional fruits of the faithful obedience, which had already in that connection been praised as the source and basis of his greatness. Especially suitable texts may be found in the prayer of Daniel and his friends, Daniel 2:16-23, and in the closing Daniel 2:46-49. Compare Calvin’s observation on Daniel 2:16 : “Videmus, quo consilio, et qua etiam fiducia Daniel postulaverit, tempus sibi dari. Consilium hoc fuit ut Dei gratiam implo-raret …. Non dubium est, quin speraverit Daniel, quod adeptus est, nempe somnium regis sibi revelatum iri. Exponit ergo sociis suis, ut simul postulent misericordiam a Deo.” Also Chr. B. Michaelis on the same passage: “Daniel eadem fide, qua postmodum ora leonum obstrinxit (Hebrews 11:3), hic solutionem somnii, quod necdum noverat, Nebuchadnezari promittit, certus jam de exauditione precum, quas super hac re ad Deum fusurus erat (James 1:6).”—On Daniel 2:19 cf. Jerome: “Somnium regis suo discit somnio; immo et somnium et
interpretationem ejus Dei renelatione cognoscit, quod dœnones ignorabant, sapientia sœculi scire non poterat. Unde et Apostoli mysterium, quod cunctis retro generationibus fuerat ignotum, Domino revelante cognoscunt (Ephesians 3:5).”44—On Daniel 2:22 see Starke: “If many things in the Word of God are too deep and hidden for thee, the fault is not in the Word, but in thyself. Beseech God to enlighten thy dark heart, and thou shalt understand the depths of God’s Word with ever-increasing clearness.”—Notice also the evidence of Daniel’s profound humility and modesty in Daniel 2:23 b: Thou “hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee;” on which Jerome (and after him Theodoret, Calvin, etc.) correctly observes: “Quod quatuor rogant, uni ostenditur, ut et arrogantiam fugiat, ne solus impetrasse videatur, et agat gratias, quod mysterium somni solus audierit.”—In treating the closing paragraph, Daniel 2:46-49, notice particularly that it is a heathen, ruler, a worshipper of idols, who is compelled to exalt and glorify Daniel and his God. Calvin (on Daniel 2:47): “Profani homines interdum rapiuntur in admirationem Dei, et tunc large et prolixe fatentur, quicquid posset requiri a veris Dei cultoribus. Sed illud est momentaneum: deinde interea manent impliciti suis superstionibus. Extorquet igitur illis Deus verba, quum ita pie loquuntur, sed intus retinent sua vitia, ut facile postea reoidant ad pristinos mores, quemadmodum memorabile exemplum postea sequetur. Quicquid sit, voluit Deus ore profani regis gloriam suam promulgari, et illum esse prœconem suœ potentiœ et sui numinis.”
b. With regard to the prophetic contents of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as brought out in Daniel’s interpretation, Daniel 2:37-44, Melancthon justly comprehends that the political element must in this connection be decidedly subordinate to the religious and Messianic factor, and observes: “Hœe enarratio non tantum est politica de imperiis, sed prœbet etiam occasionem Danieli concionandi de toto regno Christi, de novissimo judicio, de causa peccati, de redemptione et instauratione humani generis; cur sit tanta mundi brevitas; quale sit futurum perpetuum regnum, utrum in hac natura immunda vel alia; qualis sit futurus Redemtor, et quomodo ad hoc regnum perveniatur. Ita hoœc brevis narratio complectitur summam Evangelii.”—Cf. Calvin (on Daniel 2:44): “Summa igitur est: qnamvis visuri sint Judœi potentissima imperia, qua malum et terrorem ipsis incutiant, immo reddant fere attonitos, tamen nihil in illis fore stabile vel firmum, quod scilicet contraria sint regno filii Dei. Atqui male- dictionem denuntiat Jesaias (c. LX. 12) omnibus regnis, quœ non servierint ecclesiœ Dei. Quum ergo omnes illi monarchœ diabolica audacia erexerint cristas adversus filium Dei, oportuit deleri, et in illis conspicuam fieri Dei maledictionem, quœ habetur apud prophetam. Sie ergo contrivit Christus omnia mundi imperia.—Hortatur propheta (Psalms 2:12) omnes reges terrœ, ut osculenbur Filium. Quum neque Babylonii, neque Persœ, neque Macedones, neque Romani Christo sese subjecerint, immo omnes suas vires contulerint ad ipsum oppugnandum et fuerint hostes pietatis, opportuit deleri a Chrislo regno, … . Neque etiam hic Daniel ea tantum attingit, quœ patent oculis hominnm, sed altius attollit mentes nostras, nempe ut sciamus, non alibi veram fulturam, in qua quiescamus, posse reperiri, quam in imo Christi (1 Corinthians 3:2). Extra Christum ergo pronuntiat quicquid splendoris et potentiœ est in mundo et opulentiœ et roboris, hoc esse caducum et invalidum et nullius momenti.”—Starke (after Geier, on Daniel 2:44): “All the kingdoms of earth are subject to change, but Christ’s kingdom shall endure for ever, and no violence can accomplish its overthrow” (Matthew 14:19).–Id. (on Daniel 2:37 et seq.): “If God foreknows so exactly all changes in the world-kingdoms, and if He governs them all by His wisdom, should He not know the changes which are to transpire in His church? Should He not control them for good?” (Matthew 10:29-30).—Menken (Das Monarchienbild, p. 82): “The object for which God created the world, and the end for which He governs it, is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the invisible root which holds and sustains the world-kingdoms, the invisible power which smites and destroys them. Their more or less intimate connection with the kingdom of God decides the duration, the importance, the significance of world-kingdoms. The fate and the history of all the kingdoms of earth, that have no important connection with the kingdom of God, or no connection at all, would be of no value. Whatever may be their history, it is always unimportant, because they exert no influence whatever, or at best a very limited influence, upon the postponing or hastening of the final development of things, upon the supplanting of the world-kingdoms by the kingdom of God.”
יַתִּפָּעֶם beat itself to and fro, was agitated with conflicting thoughts and feelings.
נִהְיְתָה עָלָין was become upon him, a Chaldaizing sense of the verb, like our colloquial “was all over with him”.
וַיֹּאמֶר said the Chaldee sense.
הַדָּמִין תִּתְעַבְּדוּן, bits ye shall be made, i.e., “chopped into mince meat;” probably a Babylonian form of punishment like “killing by inches.”
יִשְׁתַּנֵּא be turned, i.e., pass by.
יַבֶּשְׁתָּא the dry ground, an emphatic term for the world.
וַיֹּאמֶר said the Chaldee sense.
חֲתיב returned in answer.
סַבָּחַיָּא the executioners, such being in Oriental courts an important part of the royal body-guard.
אֱלָהָא the God, like הָאֱלהִֹים i.e., the true God.
דִּילֵהּ הִיא, for (I say) his, i.e., each of the preceding qualities.
יְהוּא is emphatic, and He. The pronoun is understood with the following clauses.
וּכְעַן and now; the position makes these terms emphatic; q. d., at once, promptly in this emergency.
עַל, upon, seems here to denote the abruptness of the interview, q. d., came upon.
אַל־תְּהוֹבֵד the deprecatory form, mayest thou not destroy!
The דּי following is expletive, like ὅτι before direct quotations.
חַד one, i.e., a single one, standing alone and conspicuous.
שַׂגִּיא, huge or colossal; a different and stronger term than the רַב immediately following.
לְקָבְלָךְ in front of thee; a stronger term, like the Heb. נֶגֶד, than קָדָם so frequently used in the context.
טָב, good, i.e., pure.
פַּרִזְלָא וְחַסָפָּא the iron and the clay, i.e., the materials just described. The art. is emphatic, as in the following verse.
כַּחֲדָהֹ like one thing, all at once; denoting suddenness as well as simultaneousness.
With these epithets compare the similar terms in the (spurious or late) doxology at the close of the Lord’s Prayer.
גְחָשָׁא is rather copper, the simple metal; for zinc, which is a component of brass, was anciently unknown.
פַּרְזְלָא The article here, though present, as in all the preceding verses, should not be expressed in English, as it merely indicates the material.
מִן־קְצָת in part (lit. from the end); a different expression from the partitives elsewhere used in this connection.
The ו connective is wanting in the text, but is supplied in the Masoretic margin.
The הִיא it, is emphatic=itself.
The הֹוּא is an emphatic copula=he is.
לְדָנֵיֵּאל רַבִּי lit. magnified Daniel, i.e., promoted him.]
[It would be very natural for a Jewish writer, looking at events from the Palestinian point of view, as Jeremiah, to date occurrences according to the actual arrival of Nebuchadnezzar as apparent sovereign in Syria, although in reality only a viceroy in place of his father. A precisely parallel reckoning occurs in Luke 3:1, with reference to the associate instead of the sole reign of Tiberius, as chronologers are now pretty well agreed. Daniel on the other hand, writing at Babylon, although by courtesy he applies the general title “king” to Nebuchadnezzar, while yet but a deputy, is exact in his statement of the years of the reign itself.]
[But it is difficult to see how the supposed circumstance that the king had forgotten the dream can here be called “a favorable time.” אַדְנָא here is evidently to be taken in the sense of delay. The Magians are charged with trying to postpone the matter indefinitely, by the plea of requiring the statement of the dream by the king himself, which they presume cannot be done.]
[Keil, however, insists that this must be the meaning of the passive participle here, and renders “the work of putting to death was begun.” This is a straining of the sense. The execution being ordered, and preparations going on for it; it was regarded as virtually, but not actually in progress.]
[Keil takes the same view of the construction, Commentary, p. 104. The rendering of the whole clause would then be as follows: “Thou, O King, the king of kings (for the God of heaven hath given to thee the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the glory; and wherever the sons of man dwell, the beast of the field, and the fowl of the heavens hath he given into thy hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all)—thou art the head of gold”]
[Yet the author’s explanation below amounts to this interpretation of אַרְעָא, which is substantially adopted by Gesenius and Fürst as being the most natural and agreeable to the form of the word.]
[“פלג always in Hebr., and often in Chald., signifies the. unnatural or violent division arising from inner disharmony or discord; cf. Genesis 10:25; Psa. 4:10; Job 38:25; and Leng., Chald. Worterb., s. v.”—Keil.]
[Keil, however, contends, with Klief., that the mixing is not solely nor properly on the part of the kings, but is only spoken of the vain efforts of the heterogeneous elements of the fourth kingdom to coalesce by juxtaposition or even by intermarriage among themselves. The general character of מִתְעָֽרְבִין and especially the fact that no subject for it is expressed in the text, favor the opinion that both references are intended, namely, to the rulers as well as the people.]
[The authorized rendering, however, is correct, if, with most editions of the Masoretic text, we read וּמַלְכוּתָח as the emphatic state simply; but if with others, we read וּמַלְכוּתָהּ as the suffixed state, we must translate its realm or dominion. We may adduce, as an objection to the latter, such a variation in the sense of מַלְכוּת in the game verse, as well as the unusual and somewhat tautological application of the pronominal suffix to its own noun as an antecedent, i.q., the kingdom’s kingdom.]
Porphyry early took offence at this passage, but his objection was properly dispatched by Jerome in a pointed manner: “Hunc locum caluminatur Porphyrius, quod numquam superbissimus rex captivum adoraverit: quasi non et Lycaones ob signorum magnitudinem Paulo et Barnabœ noluarint hostias immolare. Error ergo Gentilum, qui omne quod supra se est Deos putant, Scriptures non debet imputare, quœ simpliciter refert universa quœ gesta sunt.”
Cf. Wollheim da Fonseca, Mythologie des Alten Indien, p. 26 et seq.; Hesiod, Εργα καὶ ἡμέραι 106 ss.; Ovid, Metam. 1, 89 ss.; and in relation to the old-Persic doctrine of four ages of the world, especially Genesis and Avesta in Ausland, 1868, Nos. 12 and 28, and also Delitzsch, Art. Daniel, in Herzog’s Real-Encyklop., p. 276. According to the two latter, the book Bahman Jesht, for instance, contains the following remarkable statement of the myth respecting the four ages of the world: “… Zerdusht demanded immortality tom Ormuzd, then Ormuzd showed to Zerdusht the all-embracing wisdom; whereupon he saw a tree having such a root that four trees had sprung from it, one of gold, another of silver, another of steel, and the fourth of iron. … Ormuzd said to the holy Zerdusht: ‘The root of this single tree, which thou hast seen (is the world), and these four trees are the four times which shall come: this golden one, when I and thou entertain each other, and Cstasp-Shah accepts the law, and the body of the Deos is broken and they conceal themselves: this silver one is the reign of the royal Artashir; the steel one is the rule of Anosheveran-Chosru, the son of Kobat: that of iron the evil reign of the Deos’ ” (on which, according to the Parsee teaching, the time of the Saviour Sofiosh is finally to follow).
The force of the expression “the law of the Medes and Persians” (דָּת מָדַי וּפָרָס) in chap. 6. as an evidence of the union of the two neighboring Iranian nations in a single state us early as the period of the Chaldæan supremacy, and perhaps earlier still, has been recognized, e.g., by Kranichfeld, despite his preference for the interpretation which refers the second world-kingdom to Media, and the third to Persia. In a note on page 123 et seq. he contests the assertion of Von Lengerke, that this formula really originated after the time of Cyrus, and is therefore a gross anachronism in the mouth of Daniel, by arguing that the union of the two peoples in a single nation, or at least under a single government, dates considerably beyond the time of Cyrus, and accordingly, that an exclusively Median realm was never in existence. The conformity of this view to the actual historical development of the ancient Iran is shown by Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs und Babels, p. 186; cf. Spiegel in Ausland, 1866, p. 355 et seq.
Cf. Zündel, Krit. Unterss., p. 82; and generally as respects the continuity of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires and their inseparable connection in point of nationality, religion, and civilization, see the valuable sketch of the results achieved by the latest efforts of Assyriologists: Ninive et Babylone, in the Revue des deux Mondes, 1868, March 15, by Alfred Maury. The old-Babylonian (Chaldæan), the Assyrian, and the later Babylonian empires, are in fact but three successive phases of the development of one and the same world-kingdom, despite their changes of dynasties and capitals, as also the Median, the Persian (Achæmenidian), the Parthian, and other kingdoms, are successive phases in the manifestation of a single national empire on Iranian soil. cf. G. Rawlinson, The Five Great Monarchies of the Eastern World, or the History … of Chaldea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, and Persia. London, 1867. 4 vols. Also A. Scheuchzer’s Assyrische Forschungen in M. Heidenheim’s Deutsche Vierteljahrschrift für engl.-theol. Forschung, Vol. 4., No. 4 (1868), p. 4 et seq.
[Justice to this popular view of the fourth kingdom of Daniel’s prophecies, which applies it to the Roman empire, either as a pagan or a papal tyranny, seems to require a statement here of the principal arguments in its favor. Other considerations will be examined, as well as some of , these more in detail, in the exposition of the passages under which they arise.
1. The prominence of the Roman dominion, as being the only really world-wide government after that of Alexander, certainly lends great probability to its selection as the culmination of the previous world-monarchies in comparison with the territorially insignificant realm of the Seleucidæ. But this argument seems to us to be neutralized by indications in the text itself, especially the fact that Daniel’s prophecies in this matter are bounded by the Orient as to their arena of dominion, the chosen people of God and their local heritage being the stand-point from which their influence is measured. The Jews did not come into any severe contact with Rome till after the dawn of the Messianic era, and (as the author observes above) Rome itself did not then succumb under the collision. The note of time “in the days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44) cannot be pressed into a corroboration of this synchronism, for then it would cover the whole range of the previous dynasties likewise (see the exposition of that verse). But a most decisive prohibition of the allusion to Rome appears in the continual degeneration of the successive empires from the head downwards, till the fourth has deteriorated into a base metal and even a maudlin alloy. It is true the epithet “strong as iron” well applies to Rome, but it attained its culmination both of force and culture under the early emperors, and there was no subsequent change of government in its decay corresponding to the distinction between the unadulterated metal of the legs and the crumbling mixture of the feet and toes. In the case of the Syro-Greek monarchy, on the other hand, all these particulars have their exact counterpart.
2. The difficulties attendant upon the effort to identify with the history of the Seleucid succession the particulars elsewhere given in connection, with the fourth empire, especially the list of ten kings and the fall of three of them before the successful one (Daniel 7:24) have been urged in favor of the “orthodox” view. But the Roman interpretation, on the other hand, seems to be beset with equal if not greater difficulties in this point, as will be seen in the exposition of that passage. Chap. 11. of this book is acknowledged on all hands to be a detailed account of the dynasty of the Scleucidæ, showing that the prophetic ken had it prominently in view; and the little horn of the he-goat (Daniel 8:9) is generally admitted to be Antiochus Epiphanes. It is therefore hard to resist the conclusion that the little horn of the fourth beast (Daniel 7:8) is the same king, and the fourth section of the colossal image (Daniel 2:40 et seq.) the same dynasty. The characteristics make the parallel complete.
3. The violent persecution experienced by the saints under Roman power, particularly in the days of papal supremacy, has been especially thought to justify this scheme of interpretation. But it must be remembered that the Seleucidæ were the first kings who really oppressed the people of God on account of their religion, and the efforts of Antiochus to exterminate their faith were of the most extraordinary character, not exceeded by the virulence of the Inquisition itself. Moreover, the attempt to apply the prophecies in question to both pagan and papal Rome, weakens the force of the whole interpretation. The effort to find in the pope, as such, an emphatic and direct fulfillment of the “little horn” is indeed sustained by the striking analogy of blasphemous atrocity, but fails to find an equal agreement with many other features of the picture, e.g., the “mingling themselves with the seed of men” (Daniel 2:43; absolutely forbidden by the celibacy of the pontiffs and clergy), the origin in dynastic and territorial revolution (“the sea,” Daniel 7:3. and “earth,” Daniel 7:17), the pointed reference to the Mosaic cultus and temple (Daniel 8:11), and the whole tenor of the overthrow by civil and military convulsion (Daniel 11:40 et seq.). We may also adduce the gross incongruity of representing any branch of the Christian Church, however corrupt, under these heathen symbols, and as the final foe of God’s people.
4. The marked similarity between the visions of Daniel and those of John in the Revelation, extending to details of phraseology as well as of emblem, has naturally led to the belief that they coincide in application. This, however, is a superficial view of their import. In the New Testament we everywhere find the symbols and even the terms of the O. T. used conventionally with a different application and in a wider sense. Thus, in our Lord’s eschatological discourse (Matthew 24:0.), the symptoms of the dissolution of Judaism are made premonitions of the end of all things; the whole of Ezekiel’s wail over the queen of ancient commerce (chap. 27.) is transferred almost literally to the apocalyptic overthrow of the later mistress of the world (Revelation 18:0.); the very names, Babylon, Gog, etc., are applied to new places and persons, just as Sodom, Egypt, Zion, etc., had long been current with a metaphorical meaning. It is a great mistake, however, to infer that these N. T. adaptations of types and imagery and language, familiarly drawn from the Q. T., necessarily denote the same objects or events. They are rather related as common types of some recurring Antichrist, as extensions of one general world-power ever inimical to the cause of spiritual religion. To identify them is to destroy the significance and beauty of the conventional signs by which they are expressed. The shallowness of this method of exposition, as applied to St. John’s Apocalypse, has been demonstrated by the futile attempts to make them quadrate with the facts of history.
5. Lastly, the periods assigned in Daniel for the fulfillment of the various prophecies, are appealed to in support of their application to Rome. This seems to us, on the contrary, a fatal argument against the view in question. It is true the same numbers are often used by the Revelator for the length of “the times and seasons” prefigured in his visions, but we have never yet seen any satisfactory adjustment of them to the history of the Roman empire or the papal church. We are strongly inclined to that view which regards them as being conventionally adopted by St. John as representations of longer or shorter periods of indefinite length. But in Daniel they unquestionably denote determinate spaces of time, and for that very reason—as they are ail periods of comparatively brief extent (some three and a half years, with the exception of the notable term of LXX weeks, or rather hebdomads; see the exposition of that passage)—they must be limited by the history of the Antiochian persecution and the Maccabæan revolution. The only escape from this conclusion is by a resort to what is termed the “year-for-a-day hypothesis,” which consists in understanding the days in each of the periods in question as put for so many years. It is sufficient to say of this somewhat popular and certainly convenient theory, that it is a conjecture devoid of countenance in Scripture. True, the prophets occasionally make a literal day the type of a literal year, but they never do so without immediately adding the explanation, for the express purpose of preventing such a generalization of the rule. Besides the passages in Genesis 1:5 et seq.; Genesis 2:4; 2 Peter 3:8 (which would prove too much), the only instances of this usage adduced are Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:1-6; Daniel 9:24 (but this is not in point); Revelation 2:10 (but here the application is a pure assumption); Revelation 11:13 ff (an equally imaginary case); Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14 (to include which is a simple petitio principii); Revelation 20:6 (a rather difficult case—think of a millennium of 365,000 years!). See the exhaustive list by Dr. Pond, in the Meth. Quar. Rev. for Jan., 1874, p. 116 sq.; where the learned writer argues that if one part of a vision be a symbol so must the rest, e.g., if the locusts in Revelation 9:0., be symbolical (which is probably true only so far as they are a type of ruin in general, not any particular form or agency), so must the accompanying number be; ergo, the “5 months” of Daniel 2:5 must denote 150 years—just as if the number might not be symbolical of an indefinite period, as it no doubt is. We conclude, therefore, by reiterating that no clear instance can be adduced of the use of a “day” in Scriptural prophecy for an exact year, where the typical character of the time is not immediately expressed as being limited to that particular case, much less is there any intimation that such a rule is to apply to prophecy in general. To admit such a principle in Biblical interpretation is to abndon all precision in the use of language.]
Tertullian’s assertion (de jejun., c. 7), with reference to Daniel 2:1-19, that Daniel and his friends fasted during three days, and that for this reason their prayer was heard, has its foundation in the fact that he (or rather the pre-Jeromian Latin version of the Bible used by him) followed an ancient ascetic interpolation of the passage, which is still found in the Septuagint: και παρήγγειλε νηστειαν και δέησιν, και τιμωριαν ξητῆσαι—Cf. the similar ascetic extension which the passage 1 Corinthians 7:5 experienced at an early day, by the interpolation of the words τῆ νηστεὶᾳ before τῆ προσευχῆ.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Daniel 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25