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DANIEL FIRST BECOMES DISTINGUISHED.
And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. The versions only differ verbally from the Massoretic text as represented by the above. The Septuagint renders "And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he chanced to fall into dreams and visions, and to be troubled with his vision, and his sleep went from him." The differences here that may evidence a difference of text are slight. Theodotion and the Peshitta are very close to the Massoretic. The Vulgate renders, "In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar saw a vision, and his spirit was troubled, and his vision (somnium) fled from him." If this is the true text of the Vulgate—and it is pre-Clementine—the variation seems too great for paraphrase, and yet it is an unlikely lectional variation. It is easier to imagine the change taking place in the Latin, somnus becoming somnium, especially if the final m was represented, as so often in Latin manuscripts, by a line over the preceding vowel. And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. This forms one of the chronological difficulties in the interpretation of Daniel. There seems to be a contradiction between the statement in this verse and the chronological data afforded us by the preceding chapter. If Nebuchadnezzar was already king when he placed Daniel and his three companions in the hands of "Ashpeuaz" and assigned them three years of study, then as the three years are by implication ended when the examination took place (Daniel 1:18, Daniel 1:19), the events narrated in this chapter must be dated not earlier than the third year of Nebuchadnezzar. Most commentators recognize this as a difficulty, the explaining of which is incumbent on them, whatever their views as to the date or authenticity of the book as a whole may be. A really great writer—and that title cannot be denied to the author of "Daniel," if the book be a fiction—could never fall into such a glaring self-contradiction. We do not deny that even very great writers have been guilty of chronological self-contradictions; but these contradictions were such as were not obvious. The only commentator who does not feel it incumbent on him, having noticed the difficulty, to give some hint of a possible solution, is Professor Bevan. From the obviousness of the discrepancy, we must assume that it was known to the writer, and from this we must further assume that the discrepancy was regarded by him as a merely apparent one, the explanation of which was so obvious at the time he wrote that it was needless to state it. In making this statement, we refer to the original documents from which our present Daniel was compiled. Another hypothesis certainly is possible—that there is a false reading here. Ewald has suggested the twelfth year, which implies that the word עֶשְרֵה (esreh) has been omitted. The main difficulty is that there is no sign that there is any difference of reading. If we are to correct the reading, we must go behind the present book to those documents from which it has been formed. If this portion of Daniel is a translation and a condensation of an Aramaic text, then תַרְתִין (tar'teen) is "two," but "three" would be תְלָת (t'lath). When the לloses from any cause.its upper part, it becomes little distinguishable from n; this renders it not impossible that in the original Aramaic narrative the events in this chapter were dated "the third year of Nebuchadnezzar," not "the second." This explanation does not apply to the older form of script as seen in Sindschirli or in Egypt. There have been various other ways of getting over the difficulty. One device, that of Josephus ('Antiq.,' 10.10. 3), maintained also by Jephet-ibn-Ali, is to date the reign from the conquest of Egypt, when Daniel is supposed to reckon that Nebuchadnezzar began to reign over the world. The conquest of Egypt, by means of certain recondite interpretations of Scripture, Jephet dates in the thirtieth year of Nebuchadnezzar; the date of this chapter, then, according to him, is the thirty-second year of Nebuchadnezzar. Rashi explains this date by referring it to the destruction of the temple. There is, however, nothing to indicate that any of these dates was ever reckoned of importance in Babylonian chronology. And, however important the destruction of the temple was to the Jews, few of them, even at the latest date criticism assigns to Daniel, would have the hardihood to date a monarch's reign from this. Another solution is that the second year is reckoned from the time when these Jewish captives stood before the king. This would have implied a different reading, but, as we have said, so far as this clause is concerned, there is no variation. Another suggestion may be made, viz. that this appearance of Daniel before the king is the same as that mentioned in the previous chapter (Daniel 1:18-20). This is Wieseler's hypothesis. As a reign was not reckoned from the date of accession, but from the beginning of the year following, Nebuchadnezzar's second year might well be the third year of the training of those Hebrew captives. The occasion of their appearance before the king may not have been that he took thought on the matter—a view which, though that of the Massoretic text, is not supported by the LXX.—but may have been caused by this disquieting dream. On the supposition which we have suggested, that in Daniel 1:1-21. we have a condensed version from an Aramaic original, this solution is plausible. The main difficulty, that the quiet communing implied in the nineteenth verse does not suit the fury of the king and the threatened death of the wise men, cannot be pressed, as the communing might follow the interpretation. It may seem to some better to maintain that the incidents of this chapter occurred some little time after Daniel and his three companions were admitted to the royal council. The band of captives and hostages, with the mass of the Babylonian army, arrived at Babylon, according to Berosus, some time after Nebuchadnezzar himself, who had hurried across the desert; still, a month would probably be the utmost of the difference. There might, therefore, be many months to run before the first year of Nebuchadnezzar actually began, when these captives were placed under the charge of the Melzar; so that if our suggestion of a various reading of "third" instead of "second" be accepted, the years would be over while the "third" year of Nebuchadnezzar was still proceeding. However, although many prisoners and hostages may have been sent along with the main army, after Nebuchadnezzar ]earned of the death of his father, many may have been sent earlier, and among these Daniel. The main difficulty is to imagine the orders of Nebuchadnezzar, while merely crown prince, being carried out with such exactness, or that he should be spoken of as "my lord the king" (Daniel 1:10). But their training must have begun during the lifetime of Nabopolassar, if the three years were completed while the see(rod year of Nebuchadnezzar was still to finish. If we reject both these solutions, we are shut up to the idea that there is something amiss with the reading—always a thing to be deprecated—and the simplest emendation is to imagine that the "third" has been misread "second." This, as we have shown, would be easy in Aramaic. On the assumption that the text before us is a translation and condensation of an Aramaic text, it is easy to understand how all derivative texts followed its initial mistake. There is a certain importance here due to the copula "and:" "And in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar." When any cue attempts to read this verse in connection with the last verse of the first chapter, it at once becomes clear that the twenty-first verse of Daniel 1:1-21. is an interpolation. It is probable that the condensation, which was likely to be considerable in the first chapter, becomes less so now, before passing from the one portion to the other; hence either the translator or some other added the note which is contained in Daniel 1:21. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams. The Greek versions and the Syriac of Paulus Tellensis omit the name "Nebuchadnezzar," either as nominative or as genitive. The Peshitta follows the order of the Massoretic text. The omission does not alter the sense; possibly the proper names thus came in close juxtaposition in the Massoretic in consequence of an endeavour to condense by omission, without making any further change. It would seem that the LXX. had read נִקְרָא (niq'ra) instead of חלם (ḥalam). The rendering is, "It happened (συνέβη) that the king fell into dreams and visions." This awkward sentence seems to be the result of a difficulty and consequent slavish following of the text before the translator; it is difficult to imagine what the reading could be which could be translated as it is in the Septuagint, and vet was not totally unlike the Massoretic text. "Dreams and visions" is the evident result of a coalescence of two renderings of חֲלמוֹת (ḥalomoth). It is to be observed that it is "dreams" that Nebuchadnezzar had, and yet only one "dream" is spoken of. Kliefeth thinks this refers merely to the class, so that "dreamed dreams' is equivalent to "was dreaming." Agreeing with this is Havernick. Jephet-ibn-Ali take the plurality to refer to the contents of the dream—that it refers to the four world kingdoms and that of Israel (so Kranichfe;d and Keil); for a similar use of plural for singular, he refers to Genesis 37:8. Moses Stuart thinks that it is implied that the dream was repeated. It seems to be somewhat of a mannerism of Daniel to use plural for singular, as the "visions of the head" of Daniel 4:1-37. Wherewith his spirit was troubled. The same phrase occurs in regard to Pharaoh (Genesis 41:8), when he had dreamed of the seven kine and seven ears of corn. The similarity of the thing to be stated might easily lead to a similarity of statement, without there being any necessary copying. If, as we believe, this portion of Daniel had an Aramaic original, the resemblance in language to Genesis proves very little. In this case also the reading of the Septuagint is different. Instead of רוּחוֹ (ruḥo), "his spirit," the translators must have had בָחֲלוֹם ἐν τῷ ἐνυπνίῳ; also instead of the feminine תִּתְפַיִם (tith'pa‛em), the reading must have been יִתְפַעֶם (yith'pa‛em). Though yod and tan are not readily confused, nun and tan in the older script are, and in Eastern Aramaic nun is the preformative of the third person imperfect, and a change may have been made in translating from the Aramaic. Professor Fuller, following Saadia, makes too much of the fact that, while in the present case the conjugation used is the hithpael, in Genesis it is niphal, since the niphal conjugation occurs in verse 3. Kranichfeld holds that the "hithpael heightens the idea lying in the niphal." In Biblical Aramaic hithpael takes the place of the Hebrew niphal. And his sleep brake from him. While the meaning here is plain, the words are used in an unusual sense; the word here translated "brake from" is the passive of the verb "to be," in this precise sense only used here. The fact that the substantive verb in Eastern Aramaic has this significance indicates that this is a case where the Syriac original shines through the translation. This is all the more obvious when we remember that in Eastern Aramaic נ(nun) was in the pre-formative. Analogous to this is the Latin use of the perfect of the substantive verb, e.g. funimus Troes; comp. Romans 6:17," God be thanked that ye were (ἦτε) the servants of sin." As we have said, the meaning of this verse is perfectly clear, and although there are differences of reading, there are none theft affect the sense. "In the second (or third) year of his reign, Nebuchaduezzar had a dream." To us in the West, living in the nineteenth century after Christ, it seems puerile to date so carefully a dream, of all things; but in the East, six hundred years before Christ, dreams had a very different importance from what they have now. In the history of Asshur-baui-pal dreams play a great part. Gyges submits to him in consequence of a dream In consequence of a dream Urdamane (Nut-mi-ammon) invades Egypt. Again and again is Asshur-bald-pal encouraged by dreams which appear to seers. It is ignorance of this that makes Hitzig declare, "The character of the king as here represented to us has no verisimilitude." Although Heredotus does make dreams prominent in his history, we could not imagine any of the diadochi recording and dating his dreams as does Asshur-bani-pal.
Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to show the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. The Septuagint renders, "And the king commended that the magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers of the Chaldeans be brought in to tell the king his dream. And they came and steed before the king." The difference is slight verbally, but very important. Theodotion and the Peshitta agree closely with the Massoretic. The Vulgate renders mecashepheem, "sorcerers," malefici, "evil workers." Then the king commanded to call the magicians. The scene seems to stand out before us—the king, excited and sleepless, calling out to his attendants to summon to his presence all the wise men in the capital of his empire. The first that are named are the ḥartummeem. The name is derived by Gesenius from חֶרֶט (ḥeret), "a stylus," and he supposes them to be sacred scribes. We find the word in Genesis 41:24. Although the order may have existed among the Egyptians, the name given to them here and in Exodus may quite well have a Semitic origin. The Tel-el-Amarna tablets show us how well the language of Assyria was known in Egypt. Hitzig is quite sure that Nebuchadnezzar "est Abbild des Pharao und zugleich Vorbild des Antiochus Epiphanes." It is a way critics have; they are always quite sure. It may be observed that both the Greek versions have for this word ἐπαοιδούς, "those who use incantations." The Peshitta has harasha, primarily "one who is silent," then "one who mutters," then "one who sings an incantation." Paulus Tellensis has leḥasha, "to whisper," and then "to reheat a charm" or "incautation." Jerome renders arioli," foretellers." While the Peshitta interprets ḥartummeem in Genesis by the same word as that used here, in the Septuagint the word in Genesis is ἐξηγητής instead of ἐπαοίδος, and Jerome uses conjectores instead of, as we have seen, arioli In Exodus 7:11 ḥarturameem is translated in the Septuagint ἐπαοιδοί. Jerome renders ipsi, as if the word had not been in his text. if, then, the word ḥartummeem stood in the text of Daniel when the Greek versions were made, there was an uncertainty as to the meaning to be assigned to it in Egypt. The distinction between the two meanings drawn from the etymology of the word ḥartummeem, and that derived from the Greek equivalent, is not great. The religion of the Chaldeans was largely a system of incantations that were preserved primarily in the Accadian—a tongue known only to the sacred scribes. Many of the formulae are translated into Assyrian—a language, by the time of Nebuchadnezzar, practically as much restricted to the scribes and learned class as the Accadian. Hence only a scribe could know the proper words to use in an incantation, only he could perpetuate and preserve them. It is difficult to know on what grouted the translators of the Authorized Version selected the word "magicians." The Geneva Bible rendered it "enchanters," which is adopted by the Revisers. Luther is further afield in tendering sternsehers. The name is Assyrian, and apparently derived from ḥarutu, "a staff" (Norris, 'Assyr. Dict.'). This staff was possibly used, as the staff of the Roman augur, to mark off the regions of the heavens, or, it may be, to ward off demons. And the astrologers. The Hebrew word used hero is ashshapheem. "In Assyrian the word asep or asipu is used in the sense of diviner. The word was actually borrowed by the Aramaic of Daniel under the form of ashshaph". It is supposed to mean "one who uses enchantments." It is not Hebrew, but really Syriac or Eastern Aramaic. In both Greek versions the equivalent is μάγοι, which Jerome follows. The Peshitta reserves magoeha for the next term. The assertion that this word was really the Greek σοφοί is now abandoned. The Greek σ never rendered by שׁ, which represented a sound not present in Greek at all. The fact that this non-Hellenic sound is doubled makes it utterly impossible that this word could be brought over from the Greek. It is impossible to assign to this word the precise shade of meaning which belongs to it. There is nothing to suggest "astrologers" in the root of the word. And the sorcerers. The Hebrew here is mekashshepheem. Dr. Robertson Smith, as quoted in Professor Bevan, suggests that the word is derived from כשף, "to shred or cut to pieces," hence "to prepare magical drugs." This is in agreement with the Greek versions, which render φαρμάκοι. The verb, however, is a Syrian one, and means "to worship" (Acts 4:31; Philippians 1:4). It occurs in the Hebrew of Exodus 7:11 along with ḥartummeem; in Deuteronomy 18:10, in a verse forbidding to the Israelites the use of magical arts; in 2 Chronicles 33:6, in an account of how Manasseh traversed that law. It may be noted that in this last verse the Peshitta renders Chaldea "Chaldeans." Again we have to repeat the remark that we do not know the distinctions involved in these different names. And the Chaldeans. The Hebrew word here is כַשְׂדִים (Kas'deem); both the form Kassatu and Kaldu occur in inscriptions. The meaning of this word has caused great discussion, and its use in this chapter for a class of magicians has been held as a strong proof that the writer of the book before us lived long after the time in which he places the events he narrates. The use of "Chaldean" for "magician," "astrologer," or "soothsayer" in classic times is well known. The difficulty here is that the name "Chaldean" is used for a particular and limited class in the nation, and at the same time for that nation as a whole. This is not necessarily impossible. In Scotland, although the inhabitants are all called Scots, there is also the clan whose surname is Scott, or, as it was earlier spelt, "Scot." It would not show confusion or iguorance did a writer of the fifteenth century speak in one page of the Kers, the Hepburns, and the Scots (Scotts) as forming one army, and then in the next page proceed to speak of the whole army as the army of the Scots. His use of the name in the one case for the nation and the other for the clan, so far from showing an insufficient acquaintance with the constitution of Scotland, or the history of its affairs, really evidences the accuracy of the writer's knowledge. We cannot conclude that the author therefore made a mistake in speaking—if he does so—of a class of the Babylonian magians being called Chaldeans because the nation bore the same name. We certainly have as yet found no trace of such a usage, but the argumentum e silentio is of strikingly little value in regard to Babylon—her annals are so very incomplete. We retest bear in mind that the text of Daniel is in a very bad state: it has been subjected to various inter-polstions and alterations. It is, therefore, hazardous to rest any stress on single words. It is clear the writer knew perfectly well that the nation were called Chaldeans. According to the Massoretic text, Daniel 5:30 asserts, "In that night was Belshazzar King of the Chaldeans slain;" according to the LXX. version of the same verse it is, "And the kingdom was taken from the Chaldeans and given to the Medea and Persians." If we are sure the writer did make the Chaldeans also a class of magians, the probability is that he knew what he was talking about, and made no explanation because, as a contemporary, he took for granted everybody knew how this was. But is it absolutely certain that the writer of Daniel does make this asset-lion? It is true that in the Massoretic text the Kasdeem are represented as a class of magiaas coordinate with the ḥartummeem, ashshapheem, and mekashshepheem, but in the Septuagint we find the word χαλδαίων in the genitive. Consequently, the sentence reads, "the magicians and the astrologers and the sorcerers of the Chaldeans." If at the time the Massoretic recension was made the name "Chaldean" had gained its later significance of "soothsayer," one can easily understand how natural it would be to insert the copulative before the preposition. The construction of the sentence in the text before the translator of the LXX. Version is certainly irregular, but not unexampled. It is not so easy to imagine the Septuagint translator changing the nominative plural into a genitive, especially when, by the time the translation was made, the osage we have spoken of above was in full force. We may assume, then, that in the original text of Daniel the "Kasdeem" were not spoken of, in this verse at all events, as a class of magicians. As the clause appears in the LXX; Nebuchadnezzar assembled all the magicians of his nationality, the Chaldeans as distinguished from the Babylonians. Perhaps he had more confidence in them. While the change we have suggested would make only the mekashshepheem connected with the Chaldeans, the grammatical structure of the verse has the aspect of a freer rendering than that in Theodotion' hence it might quite well have been that the original Hebrew had the meaning represented by the Greek of the Septuagint. Lenormant sees in the four classes here an exact representation of the four classes of Babylonian soothsayers. We do not feel obliged to maintain that all the different classes should be called in on the occasion of this dream. We do not know precisely the characteristics that separated one class from the other, but it seems little likely that they all devoted themselves to the interpretation of dreams. There were other omens and portents that had to be explained. For to show the king his dreams. The natural sense is that represented by the Greek versions, "to tell the king his dream." The usual reason for these officials being called was to declare to the king the interpretation of the dream; but here it was to declare the dream its. If. Yet if they could foretell the future, could they not much more easily tell what had happened? They professed to know what was coming; they could—so Nebuchadnezzar might argue—readily enough reason back from the future they knew to the sign of the future, the dream which had been given to him. So they came and stood before the king. We can imagine the long ranks of the principal classes of Chaldean soothsayers in Babylon hastening into the royal presence. All the soothsayers, we see, were not summoned, for Daniel and his friends were not, and they were not singular, else the writer would have given some reason for this omission. The writer assumes that his readers know so much about the habits of Bah;Ionian wise men and their schools, as to be aware that certain individuals might nominally be summoned to the court; and yet it might be some time before they were summoned on any critical occasion. The absence of the four Hebrews might be explained in two ways: either only the Chaldean magicians were in this case summoned, and, as Daniel and his friends were not Chaldeans, they were omitted; or they were not summoned he-cause their training was not yet complete.
And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. The Revised Version improves the English of the verse by putting the verb in the present, "My Spirit is troubled to know the dream." The Septuagint Version has the appearance of a paraphrase, "And the king said to them, I have seen a dream, and my spirit is troubled, and I desire to understand the dream." It is an unusual combination "to see a dream;" from its unusualness the reading of the Septuagint is to be preferred. In old Hebrew ל(l) and ז(z) are not unlike each other, nor are (m) and י(y). Yet these two, letters are the only differences between halamti, "I have dreamed." and hazithi. "I have seen." The Peshitta has haloma hazith, which gives the same combination, and would indicate that here too the Aramaic original is shining through It is however, difficult to see how such a word as ahpatz. "I wish," could drop out of the Massoretic. The must natural solution is that the translator added θέλω to complete the sense. Certainly a link is awanting as it stands in the ordinary interpretation of this verse. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic, while the Vulgate paraphrases the last clause, "And the king said to them. I have seen a dream, and confused in mind I have forgot what I saw." The king has been perturbed by the dream, and his perturbation leads him to wish to knew the dream—not necessarily what the dream actually had been, but what it meant. Thus in Daniel 1:17 Daniel had understanding "in all visions and dreams;" this meant that he knew the meaning of dreams and visit us. The other versions give us no assistance to explain this. Archdeacon Rose says, "The king here plainly intimates that, though the dream had troubled and perplexed him. he could not remember what it was." It does not appear to us quite so plain It is certainly not impossible to imagine that, while the king had been strongly affected by the dream, he might not remember distinctly what it was. If, however, he had no remembrance of the dream, and only the feeling of perturbation, any grandiose vision might have been brought before him, and he would not have been able to check it, or say that was not the dream he had had. If, again, he had some fragmentary remembrance, he naturally would have told what he remembered, in order that they might reconstruct his dream for him. Nebuchadnezzar's great purpose is not merely to see again his dream, but really to test these soothsayers that promised so much. If they could with such certainty as they professed tell what was about to happen, surely it was no great demand that they should know this dream of his. The king seems merely to have made the general statement, and left the soothsayers to tell at once the dream and interpretation. There sits the king with troubled brow, and there stand before him the principal adepts at interpretation of dreams. Some have found it a difficulty that God should reveal the future to a heathen monarch. But in the parallel case of Pharaoh this occurred; certainly the future revealed to him was the immediate future of the, land he ruled, whereas the dream of Nebuchadnezzar extended in its revelation to the very end of time. Archdeacon Rose refers to Pilate's wife and her mysterious dream at the trial of our Lord. The revelation as given to Nebuchadnezzar served a double purpose—it gave emphasis to it when, not an obscure Hebrew scholar got the vision, but the great conqueror; further, it gave an occasion for bringing Daniel into prominence, and gave thus to trim and to his companions an opportunity of showing their fidelity to God. This gave an occasion for miracles, the effect of which was to strengthen the Jews in their faith.
Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation. The versions do not imply any important difference Then … the Chaldeans. This does not mean merely that cue class of soothsayers—a class the existence of which is doubtful—nor that the whole baud of soothsayers bore the name "Chaldeans." The name is simply the name of the nation, but is here used of this small portion of it that were soothsayers, in the same way as in John 9:22 "Jews," the name of the nation, is used for the rulers: "For the Jews had agreed already that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue." Hence it is needless to speak of' the Chaldeans being the principal class, and therefore "for the sake of breviloquence" (Moses Stuart) "put for the whole." So also Kliefoth, "Because the Chaldeans were the first class, they alone are named." The Chaldeans were not the inhabitants of Babylonia, but belonged to several cantons south and east of Babylon. Spake. The word yedabberu is usually followed by the verb amar in the infinitive. In Ezekiel 40:4 we have the verb dibber used without arnar, to introduce the thing said. It is not improbable that in this instance Aramith, "in the Syriac tongue," helped to the omission of amar. In the Syriack (Aramith). All scholars know now that there are two leading dialects of the Aramaean or Aramaic—the Eastern or Syriac, and the Western or Chaldee. The terms are very confusing; as Syria was certainly to the west of Chaldea, it seems strange that the usage should ever have sprung up to call the Western variety Chaldee, and the Eastern variety Syriac. The usage having been established, it has a certain convenience to be able to name all the Western, or, as they may be called, Palestinian dialects of Aramaic Chaldee, and all the Eastern varieties Syriac. While the English version uses the term "Syriac," as the portion of Daniel which follows has come down to us, it is not written in Syriac, but in Chaldee. We shall, however, endeavour to show that this is due to changes introduced by transcribers. As to the word Aramith occurring here, there is great force in the view maintained by Lenormant, that it is to be regarded as a note to the reader, indicating that st this point the Hebrew ceases and the Aramaic begins. The reason of the change from one language to another has been already dealt with in considering the question of the structure of Daniel. In the mean time it is sufficient to say that our theory is that the Hebrew in the beginning of Daniel is due to the editor, who collected the scattered fly-leaves. In the first chapter and in the three opening verses of that before us, we have the results of translation and condensation. As the previous sacred books had been written in Hebrew—the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, not to speak of other books—it was natural that the editor, especially if he were under the influence of Ezra, would desire to see a book that had so much of holy hope and aspiration about it, in the sacred language of the patriarchs and prophets. There would be probably a considerable mass of irregular material to be gone over before a connected account could be given of the early days of Daniel. These sources would be necessarily in the main Aramaic, and hence the translation and condensation. It was formerly one of the objections urged against Daniel that the author regarded Aramaic as the language spoken in Babylon. By this time the language engraved on the tablets had been discovered not to be any previously known toungue. It is now found that, although the inhabitants of Babylon used the cuneiform for inscriptions, the language of ordinary business and social intercourse was Aramaic. and had been for several centuries. Dr. Hugo Winckler says, in his 'History of Babylonia and Assyria,' p. 179, "Aramaic soon became the language of social intercourse (ungangsprache) in nearly the whole of Mesopotamia, and. expelled the Assyro-Babylonian, which continued only as a literary tongue (schriftsprache)." Bronze weights have been found dating back to the Sargo-nids, with the weight marked on the one side in Aramaic, while on the other the titles of the king are given in Assyrian, When Sennacherib sent Rabshakeh to Jerusalem, Eliakim and Shebna wished the conversation to be carried on in Aramaic, implying that by this time Aramaic had become the ordinary language of diplomacy. The single Aramaic verse in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 10:11) implies that the Jewish captives would be dwelling among a people who ordinarily spoke Aramaic. Some have deduced from the phrase, "then spake," etc; that Aramaic was not the ordinary language of the speakers—a deduction that would be plausible if it had not been that from this point till the end. of the seventh chapter the book is in Aramaic. Jephet-ibn-Ali thinks that Nebuchadnezzar had first addressed the wise men in some other language, and then betook him to Aramaic. O king, live for ever: tell thy servaats the dream, andl we will show the interpretation. The soothsayers address the king in terms of Oriental adulation. Similar phrases are found in despatches to Asshurbanipal. In the Septuagint Version the phrase is accommodated more to the Hellenic usage, and the king is addressed as κύριε βασιλεῦ. Their language implies that they expected to be told the dream, and then, having been told the dream, they would apply the rules of their art to it, and declare to the king the interpretation.
The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. The version of the LXX. has slight but important differences from the Massoretic text. It is as follows "And the king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if therefore ye do not tell me the dream truly and show me the interpretation thereof, ye shall be made an example of, and your goods shall be escheat to the royal treasury." Theodotion renders the last portion of the verse, "ye shall be destroyed (εἰς ἀπώλειαν ἔσεσθε), and your houses shall be plundered (διαρπαγήσονται)." The Peshitta is closer to the Massoretic, but, like Theodotion, softens the last clause into "plundered." The Vulgate retains the fierceness of the Massoretic, softened merely in phrase, not in meaning. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me. The first thing to be noticed is the difference of the Q'ri and the K'thib in the word "Chaldean;" it is written כשׂדיא, according to the Syriac usage, not כשׂדאי according to the Chaldee. As the Book of Daniel was copied and recopied many times, probably at least scores of' times before, on the latest assignable critic d date of Daniel, the Massoretic text was fixed, and copied mainly by those whose language was Western not Eastern Aramaic. the occurrence of Syriac forms is more likely to be survivals from a Syriac original than insertions, either accidental or intentional. When the differences are so slight as those between Eastern and Western Aramaic, the tendency is to remove them rather than to accentuate them. The older interpretation of mill tha, "thing" or "word," was to take it as referring to the dream—that it was the matter that had gone from him. This, however, depends to a large degree on the moaning to be attached to ozda. Is it to be regarded as equivalent to azla, as if it were derived from אֲזַל, "to go;" or is azda to be regarded as Persian azdu, "sure," "diligent"? Delitzsch suggests azanda. "known." The two Greek versions render, ὁ λόγος ἀπ ἐμοῦ ἀπέστη, a phrase which may either be "the word has gone from me," or "the matter has departed from me," the latter being the more natural, from the meaning of ἀφίστημι. The Peshitta rendering is, "Sure is the word I have spoken." The older commentators have mainly taken this sentence as asserting that Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten the dream; Calvin. however, does so only because he feels himself compelled to take verse 8 as meaning this; while Jephet-ibn-Ali and others assume this to be the meaning of the phrase. Aben Ezra takes azda as meaning "firm" or sure. Berthohlt, among moderns, maintains that milletha is "the dream." Most others assert the sentence to mean, "The word which has gone forth from me is sure;" this is also Professor Bevan's interpretation. Hitzig's view here is peculiar: he would translate, "For the matter is important to me." This view does not suit verse 8. The lexicons differ in this. Winer first gives elapsus est, abiit, then adds, "unless rather it be derived from the Arabic (see Arabic word, atzad), 'strong,' or from the Rabbinic אָזַד, robustus." Buxtorf does give the alleged Rabbinic use of the verb, but gives reference only to occurrence in the passage before us and verse 8, and renders abire. Gesenius renders, "to depart," and quotes in support of this the Rabbinic formula, אזדא לטצמים, "to go to one's own opinion," spoken of a rabbi who holds a view not shared by any other. At the same time, Gesenius gives a meaning to the clause as a whole which accords with that of most commentators, "The word has gone out from me." Furst takes the word as meaning "firm," "sure," "unalterable." He too quotes the Rabbinic formula, as if it confirmed his view, which really it does not. Castell gives (see Arabic word) as robur, but appends no reference. Brockelmann does not give it at all, nor does Levy. Had Castell given any reference, it might have been argued to be a survival of a Syriac word through transcription; but we must remain in doubt in this, all the more so that the Peshitta does not transfer the word, which it would naturally have done had the word been extant in Syriac in a.d. 100. This would make it probable that it is an old word. The fact that it is used in Talmudic only in a formula, and then in a sense unsuitable to the present passage, confirms the idea of its age. It had probably a technical meaning, denoting that a certain matter was irrevocable. The Persian derivation of the word is by no means certain, though supported by Schrader and Noehleke. It may have a Shemitic root. אזז (azoz) Assyrian, "to be firm," may be the Assyrian form of the word, which becomes אזד in Syriac, and אזדא in status emphatieus. In Aramaic זof Hebrew becomes ,ד as זָהַב (zabab) and דְהַב (dehab), "gold." The Assyrian use of sibilants is more akin to Hebrew than to Aramaic. Sa, "this," is equivalent to זֶה (zeh), Schrader, 'Keiln.,' 586. If אזז were transferred from Assyrian and put in the status emphaticus, אַזְדָא is not an unlikely form for it to assume. Even grant the word to be Persian, it is far from proving, or even rendering it probable, that Daniel was composed in the days of the Maccabees. There is no trace of Persian producing much effect on the language of the numerous peoples that were subject to the Persian empire. There is no sign that the word was known in Palestine during the time when the Targums were becoming fixed. In Alexandria, where the Septuagint version of Daniel was made, the meaning of the word was not known, and was thought to be equivalent to אזל (azal). In Asia Minor, where Theodotion made his version, it was unknown. Jerome, who made his version, if not in Palestine, yet under Pales-tinian guidance, translates it also as equivalent to azal. The natural conclusion is that this book must have been composed not later than the Persian period, and not far from the centre of government. As we have already said, our interpretation agrees with that of Professor Bevan; we would render the phrase, "The word which has gone forth from me," i.e; "is fixed." The reason of the king's refusal to tell the wise men his dream is that he cannot do it, net because he has forgotten it, but because he has already announced that he wishes these soothsayers to prove their ability to give the interpretation of the dream by telling him what the dream was which he had had. He has committed himself to that course; he is a king, and he may not change, If ye will not make known to me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. The king, unaccustomed to be opposed or refused anything, at once determines that it is not inability to tell him what he wishes to know that hinders the soothsayers, but unwillingness. Of course, the abruptness of the action, immediate sentence pronounced on their hesitating to satisfy his demand, seems improbable. We must, however, remember that we have the account given us in the utmost brevity. We have the substance of the dialogue between the king and his astrologers. It is put in dialogue form simply because the Shemitic tongues naturally lend themselves to this mode of presentation. The sentence, "ye shall be cut in pieces," suggests some of the punishments inflicted by Asshurbanipal on those who rebelled against him. In the Aramaic the meaning literally is, "Ye shall be made pieces of." This is considerably softened in both the Greek versions. In the LXX. the rendering is, Παρὰ δειγματισθήσεσθε, "Ye shall be made an example of." Theodotion renders, Εἰς ἀπώλειαν ἔσεσθε, "Ye shall be for destruction." The Peshitta is stronger, if anything, from the succession of words, "Piece piece ye shall be cut." The punishment certainly was horrible, but not more so than the punishment David inflicted on the murderers of Ishbosheth. Indeed, in European countries a century and a half ago punishments yet more revolting were frequent. The punishment for treason in our own country was as horrible as anything well could be. The sentence, however, went further than merely the individuals. And your houses shall be made a dunghill. In the 'Records of the Past,' 1:27, 43, are references to something like this. "houses reduced to heaps of rubbish." That the houses thus made heaps of rubbish should therefore be made dunghills, is in perfect accordance with the manners at present holding in the East. The rendering of the Septuagint is very peculiar here, "And your goods shall be escheat to tire royal treasury (καὶ ὀναληφθήσεται ὑμῶν τὰ ὑπάρχοντα εἰς τὸ βασιλίκον)." This cannot be due to any desire to soften the meaning, for in the first place, in Dan 7:1-28 :29, where the same phrase occurs in the Aramaic, it is paraphrased, but not really changed; it is rendered δημευθήσεται. But further, the meaning here is perfectly different from that in the Aramaic of the Masse,retie recension. Theodotion's rendering is a softening of the Massoretic, "Your houses shall be (διαρπαγήσονται) torn down;" but the Septuagint quite changes the meaning. If the translator had a slightly blurred copy before him, he might read נזלו instead of נולי; that is to say, instead of "a dunghill," he read it as the third person plural pael of the verb אֲזַלַ (azal), "to go." When written in Sama-titan characters, or in old Phoenican characters, the last word would not be unlike למלךְ, "to the king." This is the only explanation of this variation that seems feasible, and it implies that the manuscript before the Septuagint translator was written in Eastern, not Western Aramaic. The pre-formative ,נ used as the sign of the third person, is the peculiarity of Eastern Aramaic. The translator must have bad this generally before him in his manuscript, or he never could have made this mistake. This is another indication that the Aramaic of Daniel was originally not Chaldee, but Syriac. We can imagine the striking scene: on the one wide the haughty young conqueror, blazing in indignation at the obstinate refusal, as he counts it, of his soothsayers and augurs to tell him his dream and the meaning of it; on the other, the crouching crowd of magicians, astrologers, and oneiromantists, dispirited and nonplussed. Brought up in an absolute faith in astrology and augury, the king never doubted their ability to tell him his dream; it could only be a treasonable desire to hinder him from taking the suitable steps to avoid whatever danger might be threatened by it, or to gain whatever advantage might be promised. They would not tell him the dream, because by their rules the interpretation would be fixed, and from that they could I not escape. The king will not and cannot reverse his word, and they cannot tell him what he desires, and so they stand facing each other.
But if ye show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. The Septuagint Version is "If ye will show me the dream, and tell me its interpretation, ye shall receive every sort (παντοῖα) of gifts, and be honoured by me: show me the dream, and judge." There are indications of differences in the text, which are considered below. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic in its rendering of this verse. The Peshitta also manifests no serious difference. All these older versions render it doubtful whether nebizba was part of the original text. But if ye show the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour. Ewald would conjoin with this verse the latter part of the verse preceding, with considerable justification. Like the latter part of the previous verse, it is to be taken as the summation of a long argument, in which threats anti promises would bear a large part, probably both heightening as they failed to produce tire effect required of making the soothsayers reproduce to Nebuchadnezzar his dream. Now the acme is reached—on the one hand, a death of torture and infamy is threatened; on the other band, in the verse before us, "gifts, rewards, and great honour." The king is eager to have his dream interpreted, but he has taken his stand—before he will listen to the interpretation, they must afford him evidence that they can interpret correctly this dream, by reproducing it to him. One of the words here has been used by Berthohlt as evidence that the Book of Daniel originated in the days of the Maccabees, when Greek was largely spoken. The word translated "reward" in our version is nebizba; this, it was argued by Bertholdt, is νόμισμα, m becoming b—a not infrequent commutation. In support of this, if we take νόμισμα as meaning "coined money," this would make a distinction between this word and matnan, the more ordinary word for "a gift." Jephet-ibn-Ali translates in accordance with this meaning: "I will give you raiment and dinars," he makes Nebuchadnezzar say. Yet this view is now abandoned by all critics, and however many alleged Greek words are found in Daniel, this is never now brought forward as one of them. Lexicographers are practically unanimous in rejecting this derivation. There are two other derivations, one making it a palpel form of the בְוז with a נpre-formative which was Gesenius's view in his 'Thesaurus.' He later abandoned this view, and maintained that it was connected with some Persian root. Winer maintains the former of these views, and Furst the latter. As a Persian word, it is supposed to prove the late date of Daniel. It does seem somewhat strange logic to argue, from the presence of Persian words in a document, that therefore it was written late in the Greek period. The prior question presents itself—Is the word Persian, Greek, or Aramaic, really a part of the original text of Daniel? In regard to this the Septuagint Version is of importance. Its rendering of this clause is, as we have seen, "But if ye shall show me the dream, and tell me the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive all manner of gifts, and shall be honoured by me." This interpretation implies a different text—the word nebizba disappears from the text altogether, for no one would translate it παντοῖα; evidently the translator had before him some combination of col, "all." The combination matnan nebizba occurs in the Targum in Jeremiah 40:5, therefore, had it been present, the translator would have been aware of its meaning. Theodotion renders it δωρεάς. If the phrase occurred elsewhere, there would easily be a motive to introduce the word nebizba, but there seems none to substitute for it another word altogether; certainly כand נare not unfrequently confounded, and a defective לmight be read as a .ב It would not be difficult to reproduce a Hebrew sentence, the rendering of which would require παντοῖα. This much is clear—nebizba was not before the Septuagint translator. It is further to be observed that the Septuagint translator has had before him, not the noun yeqar, "honour," but the verb in the passive or ethpael. These, however, are not all the points where the Septuagintal text must have differed from the text we have received from the Massoretes. The adjective sagi," great," occurs in the Authorized Version, but is not represented in the Septuagint. The order of the Greek words suggests a different order in the original Aramaic. Other things being equal, the strutter a reading, the more likely it is to be the original reading. It is clear that this advantage is with the Septuagint reading. If there were any likelihood of certain words being omitted from any probable cause as homoioteleuton, it would be different. On the other hand, the addition of a kind which is frequently seen, the more recent word nebizba is put alongside its more ancient equivalents. In the other case, the adjective sagi, "great," is inserted, as frequently happens, with a view of heightening the effect. Another explanation may be suggested. We know the Aramaic docquets on the back of the contract tablets are written in a script resembling Phoenician characters. If the original manuscripts were written at the date assigned by tradition, then it would be written in this style of letter. In it we find that שand מwere liable to be mistaken, as also גand ;נ we should then have מני (minni), "from me," as a possible reading which had been misread by some Palestinian scribe into שׂגי (sagi), "great," and the אadded to complete the word. The case is only a familiar case of doublets. When we have further מִן־קָדָמָי, "from me," the change of the preceding is thus in a sense necessitated. This may be regarded as an indication of age, as the square character had begun at least a century before Christ.£ This leaves but little time for modifications and blunders of penmanship between this and the critical date of Daniel. The latter clause of this verse shows us another variation between the Massoretic text and that lying behind the Septuagint. The Massoretic recension is well represented in the Authorized Version. Therefore show me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. The version of the Septuagint indicates a different reading, and has a different point, "Declare to me the dream, and judge." According to the Massoretic reading, the king merely repeats his demands, the only reference to the preceding promises and threatenings being in the conjunction לָהֵן (lāhen), "therefore." Whereas the main reference of the clause, according to the Septuagint, is to the immediately preceding promises, "Show me the dream, and judge if I will do as I have said." Another supposition possible is that there has been a transposition. In the very next verse חְוָה (ḥevah) is represented by κρίνω—in that case it may mean "interpret," the rendering then would be, "Show me the dream and interpret," and represent some part of the verb פשר, only there is the awkwardness of using the same word as equivalent to two different Aramaic words in contiguous verses. The difference is not of great importance; the king is eager to get the magicians to tell him his dream and its interpretation, but, having commenced the experiment as to their powers, he will not allow himself to be driven from it. Before leaving this verse, we must note the presence of certain signs of old date in the Aramaic of the passage. First, the word hen, "if," is not used in the Targums; it is not in Levy's Dictionary; neither Gesenius nor Furst gives any non-Biblical reference for the use of the word In the same way, its derivative לָהֵן (lāhen), "therefore," is equally peculiar to Biblical Aramaic. Particles are good notes of age, as they are less liable to change than nouns substantive.
They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation of it. The Septuagint Version here is, "And they answered the second time, saying, O king, tell the dream, and thy servants will judge of these things." Theodotion, the Peshitta, and the Vulgate agree with the Massoretic. The wise men are unable to satisfy the king's demands. Ewald comments on the fact that none of them had the inventiveness to make up a dream, and tell the king that had been his dream. He admits himself that there might have been risk of the king discovering the deception, if no flash of reviving memory in his mind answered to their invention. On our hypothesis that the king had not forgotten his dream, but was testing their powers, it was not only in the highest degree hazardous, but it was certain of failure. They must have known the case to be as we imagine it, or, when they were sentenced to death, they would have run the hazard, on the plea, "If we perish, we perish." There was a chance, though a faint one, of success in the attempt to palm off upon the king their own imaginings for his dream; there was a certainty of death if they did nothing. All they can do, however, is simply to repeat what they before said, "Tell us the dream, and we will find the interpretation of it." Nebuchadnezzar has often been denounced as specially foolish and tyrannical on account of this demand which he made of the wise men; but tyrannical though he was, and foolish though he seems at times, looked at from our elevation, this demand of his is not an example either of his folly or his tyranny. These soothsayers enjoyed great honour and great revenues, on the assumption that they possessed certain powers of foreseeing the future. He demands of them, instead of an enigmatical statement of what was coming on the earth, that they tell him what he had dreamed. They professed to be able to discover thefts, and where stolen property was; they professed to point out men who were devising evil against another. If their claims were true, they could surely tell the king his dream. They were thus employed and honoured in order that they should foretell to the king any fortune, good or bad, impending himself or the natron. His dream presumably foretold the future; they affirmed that they knew the future; they surely might tell the king what prophecy was made to him in his dream. Believing in the reality of their powers with all the faith of a fanatic, their refusal could only mean to him treason. They did not tell him his dream, not because they could not, but because they would not, in order that the disaster—for such he would be sure the dream portended—might not be averted by timely sacrifices. If the elaborate treatises on magic and divination which have come to us, so far as has been discovered, only in fragments, were complete, it is not impossible that we might be able to tell what interpretation these wise men would have put on the dream, had they been told it. It would be a curious exercise, for certainly Daniel's interpretation would not be the result. We must return to the versions for a little, in one respect the Septuagint is closer to the Massoretic than Theodotion, by having λέγοντες, the participle, instead of εἶπαν. We direct attention to this, with a view to the phenomenon we find in the succeeding clause. The Septuagint rendering is given above. The most noticeable thing which the reader will find about this rendering is the change of person in the last clause. As it stands in the Massoretic text, it is certainly the first person plural Imperfect pael of חוה; but in Syriac the preformative נwas the sign of the third person in the imperfect, as well as of the first person plural; hence, if there were a little uncertainty as to the end of the word, it was an easy mistake to one who was reading from a manuscript in Eastern Aramaic, but an impossible one for a scribe translating from a manuscript written in Chaldee, or Western Aramaic. It cannot be urged plausibly that the change might simply result from a free translation, for the slavish accuracy of the rest of the verse precludes that escape. As the reading of the Greek is confirmed by the version of Paulus Tel-lensis, the probability is slight of a various reading. This is another evidence that Daniel was originally written in Eastern, not Western Aramaic. It may be observed that while in the Massoretic text the verb "tell" (y'ēmar) is put in the imperfect, in the Septuagint it is translated as it' it were. imperative. The difference between the third person imperfect and the second person imperative is the presence, in the case of the former, of the preformative y ()י, which is absent in the other. That is a thing that might easily happen, that י(yodh) might be dropped or inserted mistakenly; consequently, this affords no evidence that the Septuagint translator took liberties with his text. The question may be put, how tar these soothsayers knew they were impostors. Most likely they were unconscious of anything approaching imposition. We know the elaborate rules by which they determined the exact meaning of every sign and portent. We know how prone men are to supplement such rules by a native faculty for foreseeing what is likely to happen, and how, further, explanations may be devised to save the credit of these canons of interpretation, even when most hopelessly proved to be false by events. Archdeacon Rose appeals to modern spiritualists as examples in point, regarding both the Chaldean soothsayers and modern spiritualists as equally impostors. We feel inclined to regard them as so far alike in this—that most of both classes imposed most on themselves. The presence of these false prophets is an evidence of the existence of the true prophets at some time, at all events; there would be no counterfeit coin were there no genuine money.
The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. The versions here do not differ in any essential point. The king now becomes certain of the treasonable purpose of the soothsayers. The word zeban means not so much "gain" as "purchase," "barter." To the king the meaning of their obstinate refusal to submit to his requirements is that they know that some great advantage may be gained by the king, or some great disaster forefended, if he only knows the meaning of this dream, and that if the king does not submit to them and yield up his decree, and, putting his pride under his feet, tell them the dream, the time when its revelation may be taken advantage of may be passed. In these matters everything was supposed to depend on the thing to be done being done precisely at the right conjunction of the planets. His last utterance seems almost to rise to agony, "Because ye see the thing is fixed away from me!" We have the same word (azda) translated here, as in the fifth verse, "gone." As we saw above, its real meaning is rather "fixed," "settled," "determined." His decree had gone out, and he would not—nay, so strongly had he willed at that it was as it' he could not—alter his decision. It has been regarded as bearing on this passage that St. Paul (Ephesians 5:16) uses the same word as that by which the Greek versions translate zeban, "redeeming the time, because the days are evil." The meaning of the apostle is to some extent in contrast to that here. Believers are, as it were, to purchase the time from the evil days. Nebuchadnezzar thought the astrologers were, as it were, ira.suing by their delays to buy the auspicious moment for the kingdom from under his feet. It is a mistaken idea that he thought they merely wished to gain time. It would I seem, from what we read further of his treatment of Daniel's request lot time, that, had they merely asked for time, Nebuchadnezzar would have granted their request. He had staked his faith in their ability to unfold any mystery on this one test, and they seemed to him obstinately to refuse to submit to it. To believe them unable to reveal the truth that he wished, would be to overturn all the fabric of his faith in the religion of his fathers; therefore, with all the strength of a strong man. and all the blind faith of a fanatic, he will not acknowledge the inability of the soothsayers to tell him his dream; it must be obstinacy, he thinks, that prevents the soothsayers telling him, and that obstinacy must have a sinister purpose. There is a clause in the Septuagint completing this verse, but it is not parallel with any clause in the Massoretic text: "Then just as I have ordered, thus shall it be." This probably is an alternative rendering. Azda is taken in what is now regarded as its meaning—"that which is fixed," or "decreed," in which case this final clause might be rendered, "What is fixed from me is a decree;" and of this the above-mentioned clause is a somewhat free rendering. This interpretation of the clause confirms our view of the situation.
But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you. The words translated (di hēn) "but it'" liar, caused some difference, most translating as if the first word were not present. This is the rendering of the Septuagint. Theodotion and Jerome render the first word, which is really the relative, as "therefore," ergo, "then," οὖν. The Peshitta has den, the corresponding Syriac phrase, which has a similar sense to that assumed here. The rendering of the next clause, both in the Septuagint and in the version of Theodotion, differs considerably from the Massoretic text. The rendering of the Septuagint is as follows: "If ye do not truly tell me the dream, an,l show me the interpretation, ye shall die." The version of Theodotion is shorter, "It, then, ye will not tell me the dream." Theodotion thus omits the clause translated, "there is but one decree for you;" the only word that may be the remains of it is οἶδα, ידעת, or simply the participle, The Syriac is, "If ye will not declare the dream to me, one is your plan and your word." The text of the Septuagint in this case indicates that we have here additions from previous verses. The phrase, "and declare to me the interpretation," is evidently supplied from Daniel 2:5, whereas "ye shall die." literally, "ye shall chance to (fall into) death," has a different origin. This phrase has all the appearance of a translation. It would seem applicable on the idea that in the text before the Septuagint translator, instead of דתכון (dathcōn), "your decree," there stood מתכון (mothcōn), "your death," the ו(vav) being omitted, and possibly the preposition בְ (be), and milah being read into some part of nephal, "to fall," probably תִּפּלוּן (tippelūn). The omission of this clause, as above mentioned, from Theodotion renders it a little doubtful, as it indicates that in the text used by the Jews of Asia Minor this phrase was awanting. Most commentators take dath in the sense more common in Eastern than in Western Aramaic, of "pica" rather than "decree" Ewald and Professor Bevan oppose this view, as also Keil, the last with great positiveness. The facts that so many commentators give this meaning, and that certain Rabbinic authorities reterred to but not named by Jephet-ibn-Ali prove it to be no impossible translation. Hitzig, Von Lengerke, Maurer, Michaelis, and Moses Stuart are not quite despicable. The main reason against this view is that in Western Aramaic dath means "decree," in Eastern Aramaic it means, according to Castell, scopus, meta, finis, voluntas. The only difficulty is that he gives no reference, and Brockel-mann gives only lex, which in this case it cannot be, though this is the only reference beside Hoffmann's 'Glossary.' It might be an individual "decree," but a "law" it cannot be. On the received renderings the succession is somewhat violent. "If ye will not tell me the dream, one is your decree," can only be made consecutive by a violent jerk away back to the fifth verse. It seems more natural to take it as meaning, "Ye have agreed together to say one thing to me." The accusation of conspiracy naturally followed from the king's firm conviction that the soothsayers could tell, if they only would, what he required of them. If there began to dawn upon him any idea that their silence was due to inability to answer, it might well move him to redoubled anger that they had been guilty of imposture in claiming such lofty powers and being so highly paid and honoured for their exercise. The king's mind had not yet abandoned the faith of his fathers in magic and divination. For ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me. It' the Septuagint is to be taken as our guide, the word shḥeethah is a doubtful addition to the Massoretic text It is, however, in the other later versions. According to the rendering of both the Greek versions, the meaning here is stronger than that which is expressed in the Authorized Version; hizdamintōn really means "to conspire." He will not admit the plea of inability to satisfy his demands—the vague suspicion may be floating before his mind—as, if he were to admit their inability to satisfy what he wished to learn, then, according to his logic, all their claims were false. Hence the accusation of "lying and corrupt words" would still stand, and have all the greater emphasis. Waiving the question of the authenticity of "corrupt," the distinction between the two words "lying" and "corrupt" seems to be in this: the first refers to the person addressed—to Nebuchadnezzar,—the words are untrue, they are lies—as coming from the soothsayers they are "corrupt," because they are symptomatic of a corrupt disposition, probably traitor, us. Till the time be changed. Theodotion renders here. "till the time be passed." The Septuagint follows a similar reading to that in the Massoretic text. The Peshitta rendering is akin to that of Theodotion. While in all forms of magic and soothsaying, time was an element not to be neglected, it was doubly important in regard to astrology, and an hour or two changed the position of the moon in relation to the constellations. If something required to be clone in consequence of this dream, then most likely it would require to be done in a certain relation of the heavenly bodies to each other. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof. The Septuagint rendering is paraphrastic, "Now then, if ye tell me the thing which I saw in the night, I shall know that ye can also show the interpretation." While we have called it a paraphrase as regards the Massoretic text, the rendering in the Septuagint may represent the Egyptian recension of the text of Daniel. The use of ῥῆμα or "thing" suggests translation, and assumes millah or mill'tha, which has the same double suggestion of "word spoken" anti "thing spoken about." If the Septuagint text were assumed here, we should have confirmation of our view that Nebuchadnezzar remembered his vision, but was determined to experiment on the soothsayers of his court. This view is certainly implied in the following clause. The first word of this clause is peculiar grammatically: אִנְדַּע ('in'd'a) instead of אידע ('iyda) or אִדַּע ('idda). This form of compensating for a dropped consonant by inserting נ(nun) instead of doubling occurs elsewhere in Biblical Aramaic (see verse 30). This is rare in Syriac, and in the Targums found only in those later, especially those of the Megilloth, which have affinities with the form of Aramaic seen in the Babylonian Talmud. This peculiarity is common in the Maudaitic dialect. It is thus a distinctively Eastern form of Aramaic that is indicated here. When we pass beyond the grammatical elements, we find that Nebuchadnezzar would take correct information as to what he had dreamed a guarantee of the correctness of the interpretation of the dream which the soothsayers might afterwards give him. His attitude was purely and truly scientific, as it is stated. In his own mind he was warped and confused by his overmastering belief in omens and auguries, in gods and demons, in magicians and astrologers. With this faith in his heart, his only explanation of the silence of these soothsayers was treason.
The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is to be noted, in the first place, that we have the same Syriac form of כַּשְׂדָיֵא. This seems to us a survival from an earlier condition of the text, when the Syriac forms were predominant, if not universal, in it. Scribes accustomed to speak and write in Chaldee would naturally harmonize the text to the language they were accustomed to use. The word "saying" ("and said," Authorized Version) is omitted from the. Septuagint, but it is found in all other versions: its omission in the Septuagint may have been due to error—the Aramaic is not complete without it. לָא־אִתַי (la- 'itha), "there is not." The ordinary Targumic and Talmudic usage is לַיִת (layith), "is not." one word. This full way of writing this negative form is an undeniable proof of antiquity. Neither Levy nor Castell gives any example of the full writing which is the regular practice in Biblical Aramaic. Merx, 'Chrestomath. Targ.,' 168, 225, also gives only לית. As a rule, the fuller a form is, the older it is. Earth; literally, dry ground—the same word as is used in the Targum of Genesis, "Let the dry land appear," but not the usual word for "the world." Theodotion, in accordance, translates ξηρᾶς; the LXX. renders merely, ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. The Peshitta has (see word, ar'a). The king's matter (mil-lath malea); literally, the king's word, which, consequently, Theodotion translates ῥῆμα. The LXX renders, "to tell the king that which he has seen." It is evident that he read millath, as it' derived from melal, "to speak," as lemallala. The rendering, "that which he has seen," is due to reading ל(l) into ד(d); the verb ḥeva was read heza, and then the change in meaning be. conies intelligible. Therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler. The mote natural interpretation of the Aramaic is, "There is no king great and powerful." Some have regarded rab ushlāṭ as a title of the King of Babylon, hut this does not seem to be borne out by inscriptions. The sense is rather that of the marginal rendering, "There is no king be he never so great and powerful." Theodotion has this reading. The Septuagint renders, "no king and no ruler (πᾶς βασιλεὺς καὶ πᾶς δυνάστης … οὐκ)," reading כול (cōl) for רב (rab). The Peshitta follows the Massoretic closely here. In this connection, it may be observed, שליט (shaleeṭ) is not frequent in the Targums, but it occurs in the Peshitta. That asked such things. Kidnah, "like this." This form of the demonstration, ending with ה(h), instead of ,א is regarded as older than the Targumic form. Theodotion inserts ῥῆμα here. At any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. The first thing that strikes the reader of the Aramaic, and for that matter the other versions, is the omission of one of the classes of soothsayers—that called "sorcerers" in our Authorized Version. We saw that, according to the Septuagint, the" Chaldeans" were not a separate college of augurs or soothsayers. When we look atlentively at the Aramaic, the reason of the presence of "Chaldeans" here, and the absence of "sorcerers" becomes probable. In the first place, כשדיא is written without the ,א as singular. When so written, its resemblance to מְכַשֵׁף (mekashshāph) suggests the question whether there might not be, occupying this place, an Aramaic noun equivalent to ashshaph, which we see is really Assyrian, and, interpreting it we find mekashshāph put thus after ashshaph elsewhere, but omitted here. The solution of' the omission of mekashshāph is the likeness the latter part of the word bears to Kusdt, especially in the script of Egypt, in which כand אwere very like each other. These assembled wise men protest against the test to which the king would put them as essentially unfair. They had been trained to divine the future from dreams, but never to find out dreams by what they had learned from their airs the future would be; and in proof of this they urge that no king, however great, had made such a demand of any astrologer or soothsayer. Nay, they go further, and say that no man upon the earth is able to tell the king what he wishes. They endeavour to make the king see that what he asks is an impossibility.
And it is a rare thing that the king requireth. The Septuagint Version of this passage is, "The thing which thou requirest, O king, is hard and strange." The last two words are most likely a case of doublet—two different renderings of the same Aramaic word, yakkı̄rah. The primary meaning of this word is "heavy," and by transference it becomes "difficult," and then, "strange" or "rare." There may have been a slight difference of reading to account for the sentence taking the vocative term it does. It may be due to reading הדר instead of אחר in the following clause. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic text. and translates yakkı̄rah, βαρύς. The Peshitta does not differ here from the Massoretic text. The soothsayers still pursue their line of defence, which they had adopted in the preceding verse. The king cannot get the answer he demands—his demand is so difficult and strange. And there is none ether that can show it before the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. The Septuagint rendering (lifters somewhat, though slightly, from the Massoretic text: "And there is no one who will show these things to the king, unless some (τις) angel, whose dwelling is not at all with flesh." The omission of ahoran, "other," gives some slight confirmation of the suggestion that ἐπίδοξος, "strange" or "peculiar," represents it. It is very characteristic of the time when the Septuagint translation was made, and of the opinions then current, that the, word אלחין (elohin), "gods," should be rendered ἄγγελος, "angels" By this time there was an avoidance of the use of the Divine name, and anything that suggested it; further, there was an avoidance of the names of heathen deities. The same feeling that makes the historian of the Book of Samuel represent (1 Samuel 29:6) Achish swearing by Jehovah rather than by his own gods, as would certainly be the case, makes the translator here represent the soothsayers referring to "angels." The idea of angels of the nations, which we find later in this book, was generally adopted by the Jews in Egypt (as e.g. Deuteronomy 32:8, LXX.). A question has been raised here as to whether the statement, "whose dwelling is not with flesh," is to be regarded as distinguishing all gods from human beings, or as distinguishing certain of the higher gods from the others. The first view is that of Hitzig, Kranichfeld, Bevan, and others; Professor Fuller and Von Lengerke and others maintain the latter opinion. There is one thing certain—that the soothsayers and interpreters of dreams and auguries believed, or, at all events, pretended they believed, themselves each under the guidance of a special genius or subordinate god. Such a god had his dwelling with flesh—that is to say, with humanity; but there were in their pantheon higher gods, whose dwelling was not with flesh. In some of the incantations and magical formulas which Lenormant has collected in his 'La Magie,' we find Selek-Moulou-ki coming to Ea his father for information as to the causes of disease, etc. Marduk is the Babylonian name for Selek-Moulou-ki, and Marduk was the great revealer; but by this his dwelling was with flesh. As we see, however, there were gods whose dwelling was not with flesh, who knew secrets hid even from Marduk. This excuse of the wise men is a preparation for Daniel's claim to raveal the secret of the king by the power of a higher God than any that communicated with the Babylonian soothsayers. Hitzig regards this as an artistic device of the author. We regard it as the providential intervention of God himself, that raise heathen soothsayers should shelter themselves under an excuse that forced into clearer light the supremacy of Jehovah. It indicates a special knowledge of Babylonian worship thus to lay stress on this distinction between higher and lower gods.
For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. The Septuagint rendering differs little in sense from the above, but in words it does considerably, "Then the king, becoming gloomy and very grieved, commanded that they lead out ,all the wise men of Babylonia." The main thing to be observed is the softening of the meaning in the hands of the Septuagint translator. This is so great as to suggest that he read לָהוֹזָלה instead of לְהוֹבָדָה. The aphel of אזל is not used in Chaldee, but is used in Syriac. Theodotion's rendering is, "Then the king in anger and wrath commanded to destroy all the wise meal of Babylon." The Syriac has a shade of difference, "Then was the king vehemently enraged, and in great fury commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon." It is evident that Theodotion read בְנַס (benas), "was angry," as if it were the preposition בand the Syriac noun נַס (has), "anger." He also must have inserted the preposition before קְצַף (qetzaph), "wrath;" in this he is followed by the Peshitta. The Septuagint is freer in its rendering in this verse, and one cannot argue anything from it. The probability seems to be that נַס; (nas) is used as a noun, and that the Targamic verb was formed from the mistake of a scribe dropping the preposition before קְצַף (qetzaph). If we are correct in this, we have an additional evidence that the original languagge of Daniel was not Chaldee, but Syriac, or, at all events, Eastern Aramaic. As a grammatical note, we direct attention to the form לְהובָדָה, where the אof the root has totally disappeared before the הof the haphel, the equivalent in Biblical Aramaic of the Chaldee and Syriac aphel with its preformative .א Professor Bevan says that this distinction is only a matter of orthography. Are we to deduce that Professor Bevan has a cockney disregard for h's? The writer now drops reference to special classes of wise men, and names them generally ḥakeemin. The king is unconvinced of the truth of these wise men (ḥakeemin), or rather he is convinced that they are traitors and deceivers. They are either concealing from him the knowledge they have, and are, therefore, traitors to him; or the gods have withdrawn from them, and therefore they must have been untrue to the gods. On both these grounds Nebuchadnezzar thinks them worthy of death. He at once issues the decree that all the wise men in the city of Babylon should be slain. If the LXX. reading of Daniel 2:2 be correct, he had only summoned the Chaldean wise men. If all the wise men of Babylon were ordered to be slain, the punishment is extended beyond the offence. Possibly he argued, "If even my fellow-countrymen, the Chaldeans, are traitors, much more will the Babylonians be so." So far as words go, it is doubtful whether this decree applies to the province of Babylonia, as the Septuagint translator thinks, or merely to those in the city. But cruel and furious as was the young conqueror, he was scarcely likely to order the wholesale massacre of those who, in Sippara and Borsippa, had neither refused to do what he wished, nor by implication called him an unreasonable tyrant, as had the wise men in Babylon.
And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain. As the Aramaic stands, it might be translated as does Professor Fuller, "And the decree went forth, and the wise men were being slain;" the וֹ of co-ordination maybe regarded as here used of Subordination. Further, the use of the participle for the preterite is not by any means uncommon in Daniel, certainly mainly in the principal clause, as in verse 5 of the present chapter. Noldeke, in his 'Syriac Grammar,' 278a, gives examples of the passive participle being used as here in the subordinate clause. The Septuagint is very condensed, but possibly drawn from a similar text, only such extreme condensation is unlike the translator elsewhere. It is possible that some part of the פְּקַד. (peqad), "to decree," was used, perhaps the participle hithpael. It is possible that the verb qetal was in the infinitive. Theodotion renders, "And the decree went forth, and the wise men were slain." This, though a possible translation, does not fit what we find represented to be the circumstances, as verse 24 seems to assume that the wise men were not yet destroyed. On the other hand, it would be hardly possible to imagine the king allowing these wise men who had refused to answer his question, to go out of his presence in safety and unbound. It would seem more natural to imagine that they were carried off to prison, and that all the soothsaying class were intended to be gathered together in prison, in order that the vengeance of the king might be more appallingly manifest. The sentence looks at first sight to us as too savage to be true, but just as savage proofs of vengeance were given by Asshurbanipal. And they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain. The Septuagint translation of this clause is somewhat paraphrastic, "And Daniel was sought for and all those with him in order to be put to death." The want of an antecedent to fix the nominative of the verb probably led to the sentence assuming its present mould; but "all" seems to have no word to occasion it. Theodotion follows the Massoretic text closely; so also does the Peshitta. It is clear from this that Daniel and his companions had not been summoned into the royal presence when the question concerning the dream was put to the wise men. This would seem to contradict the statement of Daniel 1:19, "Therefore stood they"—to wit these Hebrew youths—"before the king." Their position was probably like those who had passed the examination for the Indian Civil Service—they are accepted, but they have still a season of study, and then, after they go out to India, they occupy only subordinate situations at first. While permited to enter the ranks of the soothsayers and astrologers to the court, they were placed at first only in the lower grades, and would have to rise by degrees, and in ordinary circumstances a long time would elapse before they would be summoned into the immediate presence of the sovereign. On the reading of the LXX; Daniel and his friends would not, because they were Jews, and not Chaldeans. One has only to turn to the Talumdic tales to see how unlike this reasonable position is to the ordinary Jewish fictitious narrative. The Book of Daniel is not nearly prodigal enough in wonders to be a representative of the Jewish Midrash. It is further clear that the decree of the king went beyond those who had actually been in his council-chamber on that merest-able day. The idea of the king probably was that the treason which he had found in the heads of the various classes of Chaldean soothsayers would have permeated all the members. Babylonian and foreign, as well; therefore he orders them all to suffer a common fate. Wieseler's hypothesis, that this event took place close to the end of the three years of study which had been assigned to these youths, would suit the statement of events which we find here; although it is not necessary, yet on this assumption, the succession of events as narrated in this chapter becomes perfectly natural.
Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon. The text here does not seem to have differed much from the Egyptian recension, the translation of which we have in the Septuagint Version. "Then Daniel spake with the counsel and knowledge which were his to Arioch the chief executioner [ἀρχὶ μαγείρῳ, 'chief butcher,' used by Plutarch for 'chief cook'] of the king, to whom it was appointed to lead out the wise men (σοφιστὰς) of Babylonia." The text before the Septuagint translators seems to have had דילֵה (deelēh), "which to him," equivalent to "which he had." The LXX. text had פקד instead of נפק. Something may be said for this reading, as the לof the succeeding word may have occasioned the disappearance of the ,ד which might be regarded as a לdefectively written. Theodotion agrees perfectly with the Massoretic text. The Peshitta is somewhat of a paraphrase in regard to the first clause, "Then Daniel pacified and consulted, and said to Arioch the chief of the king's guard, who had gone out to slay the wise men of Babylon." It would seem as if there had been some confusion of the words here, though the meaning is not far from that of the other version. The Vulgate Version differs, "Then Daniel asked about the law and sentence (sentientia) at Arioch, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon." The slate of matters implied here reveals to us the fact that several links of the story are awanting. There seems to have been absolute secrecy as to what had taken place in the royal council-chamber, and how absolute had been the failure of the Chaldean wise men to satisfy the demands of the king. We could imagine the strange turmoil that this would have caused in the college of young cadets of the various guilds of soothsayers and augurs, had it been announced that these great heads of their various orders had failed. News may have come of the wrath of the king, and close behind the angry sentence of extirpation, passed not only on those who had been the immediate occasions of the king's wrath, but on all the gull, is of wise men in Babylon. This must have filled those who belonged to the various guilds implicated, not only with terror, but with amazement. It was next brought to them that they, though only in the lower stages of these famous guilds, were doomed to a common destruction with the past masters of the craft. That this was allowed to reach these subalterns proves that popular opinion had not gone with the fiery edict of the king. Above all, Arioch, captain "of the guard"—"of the cut-throats," as the Spanish translators have rendered it; "chief butcher," as both Theodotion and the Septuagint render his title—acts as if he is not in favour of it. lie is compelled to do the king's bidding; but he is evidently bent on going about the realtor in such a leisurely fashion that the great body of the condemned may escape. We may stay to notice that the name Arioch is a genuine Babylonian name, Eri Aku, "Servant of the moon-god." Professor Bevan declares it is borrowed from Genesis 14:1, as his title is from Genesis 37:36. It is singular that when the author's acquaintance with the earlier Scriptures was so full and accurate, he should drop into the blunders he is accused of. In Genesis the executioner does not execute anybody; in Daniel he is represented as engaged in organizing the massacre. Daniel seems not to have waited till the terrible band of guardsmen-executioners arrived at the college where he and his friends were living, he goes direct to the chief of the band. The fact that he is not cut down immediately on his approach seems to argue that even the common guardsmen shrank from the duty imposed on them. Their horror and shrinking were perfectly natural. Let us suppose a company in a regiment of Irish Roman Catholics ordered to shoot down their own priests, and we may have some idea of the feelings of these soldiers. These augurs and soothsayers, these astrologers and magicians, had been their counsellors; they had been their intercessors with their deities. If they were all slaughtered, would not the sheer blank in their own lives be immense? There would be no one now to tell them, however falsely, of the future: no one to tell them what to do to propitiate the gods. But more, the gods might well be supposed to be enraged by the slaughter of so many of their special servants, and might be expected to pour down vengeance on the whole nation as well as on the king who had commanded it, but most of all on those who, under whatever compulsion, raised their sacrilegious hands against the priests of the holy gods. It is even not improbable that, once the immediate paroxysm of his fury had passed, Nebuchadnezzar would be appalled at what he had himself ordered, and would connive at delay, in the hope that, though late, these wise men might come to reason and tell him what he wished. Daniel seems to find no difficulty in gaining access to the presence of Arioch. There are men who have a magnetic power over their fellows, and bend every one to their way, and still gain their affection. And Daniel seems pre-eminently to have been a man of this type. Personal good looks and suave manners had their own share, but something more was needed to carry a condemned man through the ranks of guards right into the presence of their chief. This is made all the more striking when we bear in mind that preparations were being made for the great massacre.
He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. The opening clause in this verse is doubtful. In the Septuagint the verse is rendered, "And he asked him saying, Ruler, why is it decreed so bitterly by the king? And he showed him the warrant." Theodotion is yet briefer, "Ruler of the king, why has so harsh a sentence come forth from the king? And he declared (ἐγνώρισε) to him his orders." But briefest of all is the Peshitta. It begins at once without any address, "Why is this harsh decree from the king? And Arioch showed the matter (miltha) to Daniel." As a rule, the shorter a reading is the better it is. Therefore we are inclined to prefer the Peshitta rendering. "Answered and said" is a formula that might easily be stuck in where anything of the kind seemed needed. Here it is not suitable, as Daniel is already said to have "answered Arioch with counsel and prudence." The addition of the Septuagint is more reasonable, "He asked him saying, Ruler." Theodotion feels some title is necessary, so he calls Arioch "ruler of the king." It appears to us that the brief Peshitta represents the best text. Hasty repesents to some extent, though not fully, the clement of blame implied in the word mehahetzpah in greater degree than our English word would indicate. It means" rough," "raging," "shameless;" it might be too strong to say that "scandalous" represents Daniel's meaning. Some commentators cannot imagine a man thus criticizing a royal decree to one of the court officials. Much, however, is permitted to a man speaking about a decree which has condemned him to death without his having an opportunity to defend himself It is possible that he might be able to use all the more freedom by seeing that Arioch had no favour for the business to which he was ordered. The Greek versions represent that Arioch showed the warrant, the king's order for the execution. As that would not be considered an answer to Daniel's question, on the one hand, so on the other, it would not be an occasion for the step Daniel immediately thereafter took. We think, on the whole, that the Massoretic reading amended here by the Peshitta is the better. As leader of the royal bodyguard, the place of Arioch would be beside Nebuchadnezzar, even in the council-chamber. He would thus be quite cognizant of everything that took place the demands of the king, the arguments of the wise men. All this scene he could portray for the information of Daniel. The mere exhibition of a warrant would tell nothing more than the fact that the action of Arioch was in obedience to orders.
Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would show the king the interpretation. The version of Theodotion omits all mention of Daniel's going into the palace, "And Daniel petitioned the king that he should give him time, and he would tell his interpretation to the king." The rendering of the Peshitta agrees with this, "And Daniel petitioned the king for time, and he would show the interpretation to the king." The version of the Septuagint is longer, "And Daniel went in quickly to the king, and petitioned that time should be given him from the king, and he would show all things to the king." Jerome gives a rendering of the Massoretic text in Latin condensation. The question of reading here is of some importance in the light of the apparent contradiction implied in the twenty-fifth verse. There Arioch declares that he "had found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation"—as if Nebuchadnezzar had never seen him before, whereas, if the Massoretic recension is correct, Nebuchadnezzar had seen Daniel but a little while before. According to the reading of Theodotion and the Peshitta, Daniel pet:tinned the king for time, but that petition does not imply necessarily that he was admitted into the king's presence; the petition would pass through court officials, and reach the king in due course. We may note the ease with which he granted this request, and look upon it as confirmatory of our notion that the king, now that his rage had gone down, repented of his harsh decree, and was hoping against hope that the catastrophe would be averted. The only other explanation that would save the authenticity of both passages is that Daniel's entrance into the palace and his petition to the king happened without Arioch being aware. The most natural explanation of Arioch's conduct in post-poning the execution of the royal decree is that the postponement was during the interval the petition for time was being presented, but still not decided on. This seems not unlikely. Of course, it is always open to us to declare the verses from this to the twenty-fourth inclusive an interpolation; Daniel has suffered so much from this, that an additional case has no prima facie probability against it. Moreover, the prayer or hymn has strong resemblance to the prayer of Azarias, which is acknowledged to be an interpolation. Still, one ought to be slow to cut a knot in this way, unless there is some clear ground of suspicion. It may be observed also that the Massoretic text does not necessarily assert entrance into the palace or into the king's presence. Certainly עֲלַל: (‛alal) means "entered," and in the connection this would suggest the palace as the place entered, but it may have been the house of Arioch, though this is not likely. We have no means of knowing whether any others of those implicated in the sentence of the king petitioned also for time. Not impossibly they did. The king, who was so suspicious that the wise men wished to delay till the auspicious time was passed, is willing to grant time when it is asked. This is explicable on the idea that Nebuchadnezzar was anxious to be delivered from the horrible slaughter which his decree involved. Another thing to be observed is that in the Massoretic text, Theodotion, and the Peshitta, there is no word of the dream being told. Of course, this interpretation implied a knowledge of the dream also, but it would appear to be another evidence that the king was relenting, when a petition that omitted the crucial point of the question between him and the wise men should be granted without difficulty. We are not told the amount of time requested, the word used, זְמָן (zeman), is, "a fixed time," from זְמַן, "to determine." It occurs again frequently in Daniel, as in verse 21. It is generally of a fixed point of time, but sometimes, as Daniel 7:12, their lives were prolonged for a season (זְמָן). There being only one instance among the other passages where this word occurs, in which it means a space of time, we are inclined to think that here Daniel petitioned that a time be appointed him when he too should have an audience of the king in regard to the matter of the dream, as the other wise men had. There certainly is implied a space of time in this request. The space must have involved at least twenty-four hours, as the matter is revealed to Daniel in "a night vision." It is unlikely it would be much longer, for fear the planetary collocation would change—certainly not more than a week. Tertullian ('Adv. Psychicos,' 7) says, "Daniel Deo fidens … spatium tridui poslulat."£ We learn from what follows that Daniel acted tamely from his general faith in God, and was confident that God would not suffer his saints to be destroyed causelessly, it is noted by Calvin that Daniel
, "bowels," "mercies," is common enough in Biblical language; but the phrase, "to desire mercies," is not found elsewhere in Scripture. It occurs in the later Targums, as Numbers 12:13, as a paraphrastic addition to the simple statement of Onkelos, that Moses prayed before the Lord; only in the case quoted, as generally, the order is not, as here, the object before the verb—a construction more frequent in Assyrian than in Aramaic, save in poetry. The phrase is elliptical; the ruling verb is omitted. One is tempted to wonder whether the word had not originally been לבעון, making it a case of the Babylonian or Eastern Aramaic, third person plural imperfect; then the preceding word would be לצומון, with the vav dropped as unnecessary, and the mere inserted to make the word a regular infinitive. Confirmatory of our view is Theodotion, whose rendering, ἐζήτουν, implies that he had a third person plural imperfect here. We do not maintain that it is necessary that he should have had such a reading, but there is at least a high probability that he had. The Peshitta reverses the order of the words, and omits the conjunction vav, and, inserting the relative, see character, d, as sign of subordination, proceeds, "that they entreat mercies from before God." Here, also, the third person plural imperfect is used. From the greater freedom that Jerome allowed himself in his translation, and from the wide difference between the grammatical construction of a Latin and an Aramaic sentence, no stress can be laid on the fact that he too translates by the third plural imperfect—ut quaerrent misericordiam. The balance of probability is that here we have to do with one of those indications of the Eastern origin of the Aramaic of Daniel. There is an instance of doublet in the LXX. here in the case of the phrase, τιμωρίαν ζητῆσαι, "to seek succour." Tertullian, in his reference to this passage, to which we have referred above (verse 16), adds to what we quoted above, cum sua fraternitate jejunat, and thus shows that, though differing somewhat from the Septuagint text as we have it, the African Latin Version agreed with it in inserting something about "fasting" here. The God of heaven. This is rendered by the Septuagint here, as generally, ὕψιστος The probability here is that we have to do with no difference of reading, hut rather with an objection to applying to God a title used for heathen deities. The title has a peculiar significance in the lips of those who, as Daniel, were educated as astrologers, and taught by those who regarded the sun, the moon, and the various planets as deities. Daniel and his fellows might thus believe in astrology, but maintain that the God of heaven, their God, used heavenly bodies as messengers to proclaim to those who could read the writing, the things that were coming on the earth. They might thus even give a certain limited subordinate power to the deities of Babylon; these deities were the servants of the God of heaven, who was also the God of Israel. There may be a reference to Jeremiah 10:11. The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. The God of Israel is called the God of heaven because he has made the heavens. This title is used before—in Genesis 24:7, where Abraham uses it. It is characteristic of Biblical Aramaic, that the covenant title of God, "Jehovah," is never used, Before we leave this, we would observe that the Peshitta inserts, see character, d, the sign of the genitive, before shemayyaa, whereas the text before us uses the older form of construct state in the word for "God." Concerning this secret. A parallel passage illustrative of this is Amos 3:7, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets; "also Deuteronomy 29:29, "Secret things belong unto the Lord our God." Whatever was about to happen, Daniel and his friends knew it could only happen according to the purpose and plan of God. He, as he was the real actor, knew what he was about to do, and whatever revelation of that future had been given to Nebuchadnezzar in his dream, it must have come from the God of heaven; therefore to him do Daniel and his friends make their entreaty. Professor Bevan declares רַז (raz) to be a Persian word. Neither Winer, Furst, nor Gesenius recognizes it to be such. Granted that it is Persian, is it not a possible supposition that it is derived from the Aramaic; not that the Aramaic word is derived from the Persian? Even on the supposition that this word was derived from the Persian, this is not extraordinary, when we learn the intimate relationship between the Median court and the Babylonian. That Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Does this mean that certain of the wise men had already perished? It seems almost necessary to maintain this from the meaning of שְׁאָר (shear), "remnant." It seems at first scarcely natural to take this word as meaning merely "the other," yet the usage in Ezra is in accordance with this: Ezra 4:9, "Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest (וּשְאָר) of their companions." A further question may be raised—Does this prayer mean that the desire of Daniel and his friends was that, when the wise men of Babylon, under whose superintendence they had been taught, were slain, they should escape? Or does it mean that they prayed that "they with the wise men of Babylon should not be destroyed"? This wholly depends on the meaning to be attached to the word עִם (‛im), "with." As in English, this word admits of both meanings. As the word is common to Hebrew and Aramaic, we shall take our examples from Hebrew. Thus Genesis 18:24, "That be far from thee, Lord, to slay the righteous with the wicked." As example of the other use of the word, Genesis 32:6, "Esau and four hundred men with him." Usage thus permits us to regard this prayer as intercessory, that these Hebrew youths prayed not only to be preserved themselves, but also that all the other wise men who shared their condemnation should also be preserved. This is the first record of concerted prayer. Of course, in heathen worship there was the caricature of this concert of prayer in the united shouting of the priests, say, of Baal. This is the earliest instance of that practice that has received such a gracious promise from our Lord (Matthew 18:19), "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." We would not maintain, even in appearance, that multitude adds to efficacy with God. But when two or three are gathered together, there is an infection of earnestness, a community of enthusiasm generated, that makes each individual fitter to receive the answer. Yet, again, the more that join in a petition, the more it must be raised out of the grovelling region of selfishness. A man who has a purely selfish desire rising in his heart cannot ask his fellows to join him in supplicating God to grant his request.
Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. The Septuagint adds that the secret was revealed "that very night (ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ νυκτι)." This may be held to be implied in the Aramaic, but it is here explicitly stated. Further, the Septuagint speaks of the secret as "the, mystery of the king." At the end of the clause the LXX. adds the word εὐσήμως, "evidently." All these alterations imply additions to the text made by the translator. Theodotion, the Peshitta, and Jerome agree with the Massoretic text There has been considerable discussion as to whether this revelation was made to Daniel by a dream. Hitzig assumes that the night-vision to Daniel was a repetition of that which had appeared to Nebuchadnezzar, and then proceeds to brand this as a psychological impossibility. Keil, Kliefoth, Kraniehfeld, and Zöckler all declare against the identification of a night-vision with a dream. Keil and Kliefoth say in the same words, "A vision of the night is simply a vision which any one receives during the night whilst he is awake." And Kranichfeld says, "Of a dream of Daniel, in our present case there is not one word." Zöckler says, "Not a dream-vision, but an appearance (Gesicht) vision, which appeared during the night." They maintain that, though all "dreams" may be called "night-visions," all "night-visions" are not "dreams." It would be difficult to prove that this is the usage of Scripture. It is quite true that the distinction between a dream and a vision is that in the former the subject is asleep, while in the latter he is awake. It may, however, be doubted whether this distinction is always maintained by the Hebrew and Aramaic writers, even in regard to "visions" and "dreams" generally; and it seems to us impossible to prove it in regard to "visions of the night" and "dreams." In verse 28 of the chapter before us, there seems no doubt that Daniel uses these words as equivalent to each other; "Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these." While we agree with Hitzig that the revelation was to Daniel in a dream, we do not admit the psychological impossibility, save only in the pedantic sense in which it is said that no two people, however close they may stand to each other, see the same rainbow Dreams are very generally the product of what the subject has experienced during his waking hours. Surely Hitzig never meant to assert that it was a psychological impossibility for two individuals to witness the same event. Certainly the improbability is very great that the sight of the same physical event should meet the eyes of two people in similar states of body, and produce on them precisely the some sort and degree of impression. That, however, is akin to the Hegelian pedantic statement, which asserts that we cannot go twice down the same street. Though it might even be admitted to be an impossibility in the only sense in which it can at all be admitted, yet still it is not self-contradictory. The self-contradictory is the only impossibility we can assert in the presence of the miraculous. Hitzig's objection to this is really that it was a miracle, and all the parade of giving the statement a new face by calling it, not a miracle, but a psychological impossibility, is only throwing dust in the eyes of others, perhaps of himself. Ewald does not see any psychological impossibility, and declares that the author meant to represent this at all events. Up, then, before the mind of Daniel rose the gigantic statue of the monarch's vision, and with the vision came also the divinely given certainty that this was what the king had seen. He needs, however, more than the vision: the interpretation of the vision is vouchsafed to him also. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. The LXX. rendering here joins the first clause of verse 20 to this, "Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven, and having cried aloud, said." Theodotion, the Peshitta, and Jerome agree with the Massoretic text. As we have said above, Daniel returned thanks to God for his great goodness to him and his friends. Our blessing God does not increase Divine felicity, but it expresses our sense of this felicity, and we recognize it all the more readily when, as in the case of these Jews, it is exhibited in making us partakers of it. Hence blessing God and giving God thanks become in such cases one and the mine thing.
And Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the Name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his. The Septuagint, having practically given the beginning of this verse as the end of verse19. omits it now: hence it renders, "Blessed be the Name of the great Lord for ever, because the wisdom and the greatness are his." The fact that מִן־עָלְמָא (min‛ālmā), "from eternity," is not rendered in this version, and that the adjective "great" is added in its place, indicates a difference of reading. Probably there was a transposition of מברךְ and מן־עלמא and the מן omitted. Then עלמא would be regarded as status emphaticus of the adjective עלּים (allim) This is not likely to be a correct reading, as allim means "robust,"—possessing the vigour of youth." Theodotion differs somewhat more from the Massoretic text than is his custom, "And he said, Be the Name of God blessed from eternity to eternity, for (the) wisdom and (the) understanding are his." This is shorter; the omission of the pleonastic formula, "answered and said," has an appearance of genuineness that is impressive. It would seem as if Theodotion had בינְתָא (beenetha), "understanding," instead of גְבוּרָה (geboorah), "might." The Peshitta and the Vulgate do not differ from the Massoretic text. The first, word of the Hebrew text of this song of thanksgiving has an interest for us, as throwing light on the question of the original language, לְהֶוֵא has the appearance of an infinitive, but it is the third person plural of the imperfect; לis here the preformative of the third person singular and plural as in Eastern Aramaic as distinct from Western. This preformative is found occasionally in the Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud, along with ,נ the preformative we find regularly in Syriac. In Biblical Aramaic this pre-formative is found only with the substantive verb; the reason of this, however, we have considered in regard to the language. Suffice it that we regard this as an evidence that Daniel was originally written in Eastern Aramaic. Professor Bevan's explanation, that the phenomenon is due to the likeness these parts of this verb have to the Divine Name, is of force to afford a reason why, in the midst of the general process of Occidentalizing the Aramaic, they shrank from applying it to this verb. That they had no scruple in writing it first hand, we find in the Targums; thus Onkelos, Genesis 18:18, יֶהֲוֵי. We might refer to ether examples in the later Aramaic of the Talmud and other Rabbinic works. The Name of God. Later Judaism, to avoid using the sacred covenant name of God, was accustomed to use the "Name," in this sense. This may be noted that throughout this whole book, "Jehovah" occurs only in Genesis 9:1-29. This may be due to something of that reverence which has led the Jews for centuries to avoid pronouncing the sacred name, and to use instead, Adonai, "Lord." It is to be observed that all through Daniel the Septuagint has Κύριος, the Greek equivalent for Jehovah, while Theodotion follows the Massoretic in having Θεός. For ever and ever. This is not an accurate translation, although it appears not only in the Authorized, but also in the Revised Version. The sound of the phrase impresses us with a sense of grandeur, perhaps due to the music with which it has been associated. When we think of the meaning we really give to the phrase, or of its actual grammatical sense, it only conveys to us the idea of unending future duration; it does not at all imply unbeginning duration. More correct is Luther's "veto Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit." The Greek of Theodotion conveys this also, ἀπό τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἕως τοῦ αἰῶνος. Jerome renders, "a saeculo et usque in saeculum." The true rendering is, "from eternity to eternity." It is quite true that the עָלְמָא means primarily "an age," as does also αἰών and saculum: it is also quite true that it is improbable that in ancient days man had definite ideas of eternity; even at the present time, when men strive after definiteness, they have no real conception of unending existence, still less of existence unbeginning. Still, it was used as having that meaning so far as men were able to apprehend it. As αἰών, it is used for "world." For wisdom and might are his. Wisdom is the Divine quality of which they have had proof now, but "might" is united with it as really one in thought. The fact that the usual combination is "wisdom and understanding" (see Exodus 31:3; Isaiah 11:2; Ezekiel 28:4) has led the scribe, whose text Theodotion used, to replace "might" by "understanding." He might feel himself confirmed in his emendation by the fact that, while God's wisdom and, it might be said, his understanding were exhibited in thus revealing to Daniel the royal dream, there was no place for "might." What was in the mind of Daniel and his friends was that they were in the hands of a great Monarch, who was practically omnipotent. They now make known their recognition of the glorious truth that not only does the wisdom of the wise belong to God, but also the might of the strong. Further, there is another thought here which is present in all Scripture—that wisdom and might are really two sides of one and the same thing; hence a truth is proved by a miracle, a work of power.
And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding. In regard to this verse, Theodotion and the Septuagint only differ in this from the Massoretic text, that they omit the repetition of the word "kings." The Peshitta has a different sense in the middle clause. "He maketh (Peshitta, ma'bed) kings and confirmeth (Peshitta, maqeem) kings" The Syriac translators have evidently read מְחֲעְדֵה (meha‛deh), "to remove," as מְהַעְבֵד (meha‛bēd), "to make" The utter want of contrast in this reading condemns it. In regard to the Aramaic of this passage, the carrying on of the preformative ,ה the sign of the haphel conjugation, is a proof of the early date of the Aramaic. In later Aramaic, הgives place to ,א and אdisappears after the other preformative as יַקְטֵל, not יִאֲקְטֵל. Changeth times and seasons. Nebuchadnezzar was anxious lest the time in which he might make advantageous use of the information conveyed by the dream should pass away, and a new "time" be established. Not improbably Nebuchadnezzar, like most heathens, imagined that his gods were limited by some unseen power like the Greek Fate, and, however wishful they might be to be propitious to their worshippers only in certain collocations of the heavenly bodies could they carry out their wish. God, the God of heaven, the God of the despised Hebrews, he it was who arranged the times and the seasons, he made the sun to rise, he makes summer and winter, he leads out the host of the stars, alike the star of Nebo and the star of Marduk. The two words "time" and "season" are nearly synonymous. Perhaps the first is more indefinite than the other. Our own opinion is that the first has more the idea of space of time, and the latter more of point of time; but really they are almost synonymous. He removeth kings, and setteth up kings. In this there seems to be a special reference to the contents of the vision, which showed that in the time to come, not only kings but dynasties were to be set up and overthrown. The former clause regarded God as the God of nature. This looks u pen him as the God of providence, by whom "kings reign, and princes decree .justice." He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understand-lag. This address to God goes further. Daniel sees in the faculties and mental acquirements of men the manifestation of God. It is the inspiration of the Almighty that giveth understanding. All the power man has of acquiring knowledge, all the faculty he has for using that knowledge aright, all come from God.
He revealeth the deep and secret things; he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. The rendering of the Septuagint as it stands differs somewhat from the Massoretic text, "Revealing deep things and dark, and knowing the things which are in the darkness and the things which are in the light, and with him is a dwelling-place (κατάλυσις)." There is doubt as to the exact force of this last word; the last element in it suggests "solution." This meaning seems to have been given to it generally; for Paulus Tellensis renders it shari, which means a "solution," but as it is derived from shera, which means "to dwell," he retains the double meaning£ The reading of Kreysig is decidedly to be preferred, omitting τὰ ("the things which") before "in the light," and καὶ, "and," after. The rendering then would be, "in light is with him the dwelling-place." This rendering harmonizes the LXX. completely with the Massoretic. The other versions call for no remark. There is difference here between the Q'rl and K'thib. The Q'ri reads nehora, "light," a Chaldee or Western Aramaic form; the K'thib again is, neheera, the Eastern Aramaic form. God is not only the God of nature, of providence, and of man, but also of revelation. He can make known to man what otherwise man could never know. He is the very Source of all light and enlightenment. We may compare this statement with that of Paul in 1 Timothy 6:16; he speaks of God as "dwelling in light which no man can approach unto." It seems to us the words of the Old Testament song convey a loftier idea of God than does the Pauline statement—perhaps it is even loftier than the cognate phrase of the Apostle John (1 John 1:5), "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." We may compare, in regard to this whole verse, Psalms 139:12, "The darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the tight are both alike to thee," where neheera is used as in the passage before us. Daniel ascribes to Jehovah all the powers of all the gods of Babylon.
I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee; for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter. The Septuagint renders, "Thee, O Lord of my fathers, i thank and praise, because thou gavest wisdom and knowledge to me, and now thou hast revealed to me what I entreated, in order to show the king concerning these things." There seems a slight difference of reading implied here. Theodotion and the Peshitta are practically at one with the Massoretic. Theodotion translates the relative דִי as if it were "and," not, as in our version, "for;" and the Peshitta repeats the first personal pronoun. Daniel now particularizes his reasons for praise and thanksgiving. He addresses God as the God of his fathers. He appeals to him as the covenant God of Israel, who had led their fathers through the wilderness. God revealed himself to Jacob at Bethel as "the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac." So to Moses at the burning bush he declared himself "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God. of Jacob." On the other hand, when Jacob approached God in prayer, he addressed him as "the God of my father Abraham, and the God of my father Isaac." God had shown kindness to his fathers: would he not also show kindness to their seed after them? Who hast given me wisdom and might. As Jacob in his prayer at Mahanaim (Genesis 32:9) not only pleads with God as the God of his fathers, but also as the God who had blessed him with his guidance before, so Daniel now further addresses God who had bestowed upon him "wisdom and might." When God has bestowed upon any one special faculties, he must presumably have a special work for him, ,rid it is therefore reasonable to plead with God to give an opportunity for the exercise of these special powers. Here it forms an occasion of thanksgiving. We are apt to forget that our powers, mental and physical, our possessions and acquirements, are gifts of God's grace for which we owe thanks. The special reason for gratitude, however, follows—God has answered the prayer of his servants. Hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee. It is to be noted that Daniel attributes the answer not merely to his own prayer, but to the united prayer of his three friends as well. Their earnest desire had gone along with his own in calling down the Divine answer. Daniel, while giving thanks for the knowledge vouchsafed to him, recognizes the help his friends had afforded. For thou hast made known unto us the king's matter. Daniel assigns the reason here for his thanksgiving yet more definitely. God had made known to him what the king had required.
Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch. whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will show unto the king the interpretation. The differences in the versions from this are slight. The LXX.has ἔκαστα instead of σύγκρισιν, as if reading כֹל instead of פִשְׂרָא, an emendation due to the fact that the king had demanded from the wise men, not merely the interpretation, which, given the dream, they were willing enough to give, but the dream itself; only the more natural emendation would have been to have interpolated הֶלְמָא, (ḥel'ma), "dream," be fore "interpretation." Both the Septuagint and Theodotion omit the word representing the second "went." It is to be observed that "went in" and "went" are different words in the original, as in the Peshitta Version. The verbs עֲלַל (‛alal) and אזל ('azal) have different ideas connected with them. The first means "to enter," of a place with a preposition; the latter has the notion of simple going. If we can imagine the body-guard of the king quartered in some part of the huge palace, then Daniel "went in" first to the quarters of the guard, and then, having got a mission, "went" up to Arioch, who was probably endeavouring to occupy as much time as possible to delay the horrible exe cution, or perhaps escape the necessity altogether. It would seem as if Arioch had heard nothing of the petition which Daniel had presented to the king, and only knew that his delay had not been found fault with. It might seem by the introductory word "therefore" (kol-qebēl-denah) that the hymn has been an interpolation. It is quite true that it would most naturally immediately follow verse 19. Yet we must bear in mind that the consecution of one part to another, which we have in our Western languages, is not so carefully observed in Eastern tongues. It may be doubted, more over, whether כָּל־קְבֵל־דְנָה (kol-qebēl-denah) has so much a logical , as a local or temporal significance. "'Thereupon" would, perhaps, more correctly render this connective here. After he had finished offering up his praise and thanks to God, Daniel went to Arioch. As we have already said, it would seem that Arioch had a reluctance to set about the fulfilment of this horrible order, not that mere slaughter was a thing specially repugnant to him—he had taken part in too many campaigns for that to impress him much; but this was a massacre of the priests. All the reverence of his nature that during his lifetime had associated itself with those who had solemnly sacrificed before each campaign, and taken the auguries, protested against this sudden and wholesale massacre. He has determined to fritter away time, in order to give his master opportunity to bethink himself The mere political ill will that would be roused by such an attempt was formidable. We know that the Babylonian monarch Nabunahid really rather fell before the intrigines of the priests and augurs than before the arms of Cyrus. To him, thus waiting and procrastinating, comes Daniel. Although there is nothing said of it in the narrative, Daniel may have given him to understand that he hoped to be able to satisfy the demands of the king. The power Daniel had of gaining the favour and confidence of those with whom he came in contacts led to his being buoyed up by a certain hope in his procrastination, which would be strengthened by the fact that the fiery young king made no inquiry whether his order was being fulfilled. Still, it must have been with joy he saw Daniel appearing, and heard him say, "Destroy not the wise men of Babylon," especially when followed by the request to be brought into the presence of the king; thus he knew that Daniel could answer the king's question and tell him his dream, as well as the promised interpretation. If we take the Septuagint rendering as representing the original text, Daniel promised to tell the king "everything."
Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation. Save that the Septuagint has again ἕκαστα instead of σύγκρισιν or σύγκριμα, and Paulus Tellensis adds the adjective "wise" as a description of the man who had thus professed to satisfy the king, the versions agree with the Massoretic text. In regard to the Aramaic here, the use of the Eastern form of the haphel is to be noted—han‛ēl instead of ha‛el. These are to be looked upon as archaisms or Orientalisms, that have survived modernizing efforts of the pre-Massoretic scribes. We have already remarked on this as an Eastern peculiarity which survives in the Mandaitic and in the Babylonian Talmud. The careful way in which the Septuagint renders the particular דִי, ὅτι, omitted in the other old versions save the Peshitta, ought to be noted as a sign of the extreme carefulness of the Septuagint translator, and a reason why we should regard divergences from the Massoretic as generally evidences of a different text. It has been remarked by Archdeacon Rose that Arioch claims too much when he asserts that he had "found Daniel." This is not exactly met by Professor Fuller's assertion that it was a mode of the court to ignore all "these captives," with something of the contempt with which the European in India regards those whom he without qualification denotes as "niggers." This, however, does not meet the case if the ordinary interpretation of the circumstances is right; then Nebuchadnezzar had not only seen Daniel in connection with this matter, but further, Arioch knew of it. The case of Abner and David before Saul, in 1 Samuel 17:35 should not be brought in in comparison with 1 Samuel 16:21, as the latter does not occur in the Septuagint. Unless there has been interpolation, the explanation seems to be that Arioch was not aware that Daniel had petitioned. It may be that Arioch wishes to disarm the king's wrath by not saying anything of Daniel being one of "the wise men" against whom the king's sentence had gone out; but it may also be regarded as a proof that Daniel and his companions had not yet passed out of the class of pupils into that of wise men. He says he is "of the sons of the captivity of Judah." The haste with which Arioch brings Daniel into the king's presence may be due to his own delight at having escaped a piece of employment he had no heart for. There may have been an element of anxiety—he had procrastinated, and the young king had made no inquiries; but it was not the custom of the conqueror to give orders and not to see that they were carried out, and disobedience to the orders of Nebuchadnezzar would mean instant death, possibly with torture. Every moment was fraught with danger, so Arioch's hastening of Daniel may have been due to his own sense of relief at escape from an impending danger. But more, this haste would give the appearance of eager diligence, if not in slaughtering the wise men of Babylon, at least in searching for one who could make good to the king their lack of service toward him. His haste might be intended to give the look at once of eagerness and diligence. All the motives may have combined.
The 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? The variations in the versions are here unimportant, save that the Septuagint interpolates "in the Chaldee tongue" before the Babylonian name of Daniel. It is also to be noted that here, as throughout, the Babylonian name of Daniel, in beth the Greek versions, appears as Βαλτάσαρ, the same form in which they give Belshazzar. When Daniel is brought in before the king, Nebuchadnezzar demands if he can fulfil his promise, and tell the dream as well as the interpretation. There is no indication that Nebuchadnezzar remembered anything of the youth who had done well in the examination held in his presence some months before. This certainly is confirmatory of Wieseler's hypothesis. That the king should have forgotten, however, is nothing extraordinary, for the occasions of this kind would be many. Nebuchadnezzar, in the case of the young Hebrew, does not question his willingness to tell him what he wishes, but only his ability. With regard to the wise men, he believed, or professed to believe, in their ability to do what he wished, and reckoned their refusal to answer him as due to obstinacy or treason. It may be that he has moderated somewhat the rancour of his ire, and is willing to recognize their ignorance as to dreams and such light furniture of the mind as not militating against their claim to knowledge in other directions, only for his oath's sake he must demand that the dream be told him by at least some one. It may be that there was a certain emphasis on the pronoun when Nebuchadnezzar demanded of Daniel, "Is there to thee the power to declare to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?" Is there to thee, mere student of the sacred mysteries as thou art, alien as thou art, a hostage from a city whose king I overthrew easily? It certainly must have been strange to Nebuchadnezzar that what the soothsayers, astrologers, and magicians of the court, the highest, and reputed to be the most skilful of their respective guilds, could not do, this young Hebrew proclaimed himself able to perform. It may be observed that while in the narrative the author calls the prophet by his sacred name Daniel, "the Divine judge," here in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, the court name he had received is introduced. To his friends, to his fellow-countrymen, he is Daniel; but as a court official he is Belteshazzar, or perhaps Belshazzar. It may be that there is intended to be conveyed to us that not only was he introduced into the royal presence as Belshazzar, but that the king addressed him," Belteshazzar (Belshazzar), art thou able?"
Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king. The differences between this and the Septuagint are but slight and unimportant. To render it literally, the LXX. is, "Daniel, having spoken out in the presence of the king, said, The mystery which the king saw is nut the showing of the wise men, the astrologers, the sorcerers, the magicians." There seems to have been a confusion between עֲנָה (‛anah), "to answer," and צְנָה (tzenah), "to cry out;" the latter word is unsuitable in the present connection. The change from שׁאל to חזה is unlikely to have been the result of any mistake in the writing of the original. It may have been the Greek scribe who misread ἠρώτησεν into ἑώρακεν. Theodotion and the Peshitta present no peculiarities worthy of notice. Jerome translates asbshaphim by magi, as usual, following the Peshitta. It is to be observed that here again we have a list of the different classes of soothsayers, and the class of Chaldeans is omitted, as also those marked as mecashphim in verse 2; instead, occupying the same place in the catalogue, is gazrı̄n. This may have been the original word, as evidently the real meaning was not known either in Egypt or Asia Minor, as both the LXX. and Theodotion transfer the word. The Peshitta translates this word by asuphe, in reality the corresponding one to the second word in the Chaldee. This would seem to show that the word had disappeared from Eastern as well as Western Aramaic. It is derived from gezar, "to eat." Behrmann ('Das Buch Daniel') derives it thus, and says that it refers to the fact that those who studied nativities divided the heavens into sectiones or segmenta. This was precisely what the "Chaldeans" of classic times did; hence it is quite a possible thing that Chaldeans was inserted in some Greek translations, and got into the Aramaic from the Greek. The word does not seem to be used for , astrologers" in the Talmud. The occasion of Daniel's narrating the impotence of the other wise men in presence of the task set them by the king is that probably he recognized the accent of surprise in the king's tone. As if he said, "Yes, it is perfectly true, what none of these wise men could do, I, a mere youth, undertake to do." There is nothing of contempt for them in this, as is seen in the following verse. There may be a shade of rebuke implied to the king, who had demanded from men what they could not do. They had declared that only the gods could reveal this to the king. And what Daniel says is not in opposition to this, but confirmatory of it.
But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the King Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these. All the versions are at one with the Massoretic text to the beginning of the last clause, which begins a new sentence. This last clause is omitted in the Septuagint. The clause is pleonastic; therefore, seeing it is omitted by the Septuagint, we may consider it not genuine, but due to a case of doublet in the Aramaic copies. Some copies have the present clause here, without the opening clause of the next, and others without this, but having the opening clause of Daniel 2:29. Then came a copyist, who, unable to settle which was the better reading, inserted both. There is a God in heaven. No nation in ancient times was so addicted to the study of the stars of heaven and to the future as were the Chaldeans. Here Daniel announces that the God of heaven, Jehovah, the God of oppressed Judah and conquered Jerusalem, was the God who ruled all the stars from which the Chaldeans derived the knowledge of the future they thought they had, and arranged for his own purposes all things that were coming upon the earth, and he could tell what no one on earth could do. And the reason of this he also makes plain—God had expressly sent the dream to Nebuchadnezzar in order that he might know what was to "be in the latter days." He, Nebuchadnezzar, was the first of the great imperial powers who ruled after Israel ceased to be so much a nation as a faith. After the Babylonian Captivity Judaism became a Church over against a heathen state. Hence to him with whom this new state of things began was this message given. It has exercised many why this revelation of the future was made to this heathen monarch. Yet we must remember that, though made directly to him, through his obstinacy, it arrived at the Prophet Daniel, for whom it was meant. Yet again, no one can read the inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar and fail to observe how deep and unfeigned was his piety according to his light. He worshipped Merodach, and if, in his ascriptions of praise, we were to place "Jehovah" instead of "Merodach," these prayers and thanksgivings would appear almost as if borrowed from the Hebrew Psalter. God, who readeth the hearts of men, might well have seen such a heart in this conqueror that he might be honoured with a revelation. The phrase, "latter days," had a special reference in Jewish prophetic language to the times of the Messiah (Isaiah 2:2); hence we may assume that this vision would stretch in its revelations on to the times of the kingdom which the Lord would set up. It is unscientific to press this as meaning the absolute last time, as does Hitzig. It is not the future generally, as Havernick. We must be led by the usage of prophetic literature. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed are these. This clause, as we have indicated, is probably one of two parallel readings. There is probably no distinction intended between "dream" and "visions of the head upon the bed." This is really to be regarded as a case of parallelism, in which one portion of the verse was balanced by the other. What shade of difference there is, is between the dream as a totality and the portions of it as seen.
As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind m on thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. This verse is of somewhat suspicious authenticity, the renderings of the different versions show such a diversity of text. The Septuagint rendering is very brief, being merely a version of the last clause, "He that revealeth secrets (μυστήρια) showed that which behoveth to be." This has the appearance as if the translators here rendered the last word as an infinitive, taking לas not the preformatvre of the third person future, but as the sign of the infinitive. It is not necessarily so, because it may be that δεἰ is regarded as included in לֶהֱוֵא (lehave'). Theodotion is in closer agreement with the Massoretic, "O king, thy thoughts upon thy bed raised up what behoved to be after these things; and he that revealeth secrets hath made known to thee what behoveth to be." The Peshitta renders slightly differently, Thou, O king, thy thoughts arose in thy heart on account of what should be in the latter days, and he that revealeth secrets made known to thee what shall be." Even Jerome, who is usually pretty close to the Massoretic text, differs a little here. "Thou, O king, didst begin to think upon thy couch what would be after these things; and he who revealeth mysteries showeth thee what shall be." Paulus Tellensis has broken away from the Septuagint, supplying the clause omitted, not improbably from Theodotion, "Thou, O king, when. thou layest upon thy couch, sawest all things which behoved to happen in the last days; and he who revealeth secrets hath showed to thee what behoved to be." Altogether, with the exception of the last clause, which is evidenced by all the versions, we doubt the authenticity of this verse. However, the interpolation, if we have a case of it here, must have been of old date, as is indicated by the archaic form אַנְתָה (an'tah), which becomes in the Q'ri אַנְת (an't). Whether an interpolation or part of the original text, the picture suggested is very natural. The young conqueror, who had already secured the whole of South-Western Asia to the river of Egypt, was occupying his thoughts in speculating what should come after him. He falls asleep, and the subject of his waking thoughts becomes the subject of his dreams.
But as for me, this secret was not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. The Septuagint Version is simpler, "But as for me, not on account of any wisdom in me above all men is this mystery revealed, but in order that it should be shown to the king it is revealed to me what thou thoughtest in thy heart in knowledge." The translator has read the preformative תinto .ב There is no reference to "those who shall show the interpretation." The text before him may have omitted the plural termination; consequently, the huphal was supplied. Theodotion, the Peshitta, and Jerome all agree pretty closely with the Massoretic text, but all make the verb translated "shows" singular, not plural, as does the Massoretic. Of course, it may be that this was due to rendering the sense, not the words, of the original; but Theodotion especially is more prone in any difficulty to slavish adherence to his original. His rendering is, "But as for me, not for wisdom which is in me beyond all living is the mystery revealed, but that the interpretation be made known to the king in order that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart." The Pe-shitta renders the latter clauses thus: "But that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that thou mayest know what thou didst meditate on in thy heart." Jerome, after rendering רזא (raza, "secret") sacramentum, proceeds," Sed ut interpretatio regi manifesta fieret et cogitationes mentis tuae seires." The fact that the last word takes the Mandaitic form תִּנְדַּע (tin'dae) instead of תִדַּע (tidda‛) indicates on the whole an Oriental origin. The use of the plural form, יְהוֹדעוּן (yehōd‛ūn), is wrongly rendered, "for their sakes who shall make known the interpretation." The Revised Version is more accurate, "but to the intent that the interpretation may be made known;" and Luther translates, "Dass dem Konige die Deutung augezeiget warde." The use of the plural for the indefinite occurs elsewhere (Wirier, § 49). The position Daniel takes up is one which does not separate him from the other hakmeen of the court. He in effect says, "I am no wiser than the other sages who have been condemned to death, only the God of heaven can reveal what the king demands, and he has revealed it to me." The purpose of the revelation, "that thou mightest know the interpretation," is fitted to soothe his pride. The humility of Daniel has been remarked in reference to this verse. He puts himself behind the impersonal form, "in order that people may show the king the interpretation." The reason why the interpretation was shown to Nebuchadnezzar might be really to humble him, to show him that his empire, splendid as it was, was only one in a succession, and that the whole system of world-empires would be overthrown before a kingdom set up by the God of the Jews.
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. The Greek versions do not require notice, as they do not imply any difference in reading from the Massoretic text. The Peshitta is shorter, "Thou, O king, wert seeing, and, lo! a great image of beauty exceeding excellent, and it stood before thee." The opening clause of the next verse may be regarded as taking up the last clause of the verse before us. As to the Aramaic of the passage, it is to be observed that the s, me long form of the second person is used in Daniel 2:29. The numeral חַד (ḥad) is used in this verse very much in the sense of the English indefinite article which is used to translate it in the English versions. It is represented in the Greek Version by μία. The particle אְלַוּ ('alu)," behold," does not occur in the Targums; a cognate form occurs in Samaritan, hala. In Talmudic it occurs in a form like the Samaritan. This word occurs in Daniel 7:1-28; varied by אֲרוּ ('arū), which is regarded as a phonetic variation. It may, however, be due to defective penmanship, having the top of the לtoo faintly written. Its etymology is doubtful. No Assyrian root has been found from which it may be derived. The word for "image," צֶלֶם (tzelem), occurs in the Palmyrene inscriptions, as the regular term for a memorial statue. Hence, unless reason can be shown to the contrary, we could assume, even though there had been no more, that the figure was like a statue of a man. The word for this, דִכֵּן (diccēn), occurs only in Daniel; the corresponding word in Ezra is דֵךְ (dēc). The n sound is one that so readily slips away, that its presence as a final letter is a sign that the form of a word possessing it is in an older stage than that without it; hence we would argue that as דֵךְ (dēc) is older than דָא (da) of the Targums, so דִכֵּן (diccēn) of Daniel is older than דֵךְ (dēc). The word that is most interesting is זִיוֵהּ (zivēh); it is rendered "brightness" in our version. It is recognized by Professor Bevan, on the authority of Delitzsch, as an Assyrio-Babylonian word, therefore affording an additional evidence of the Eastern origin of Daniel. Noldeke would derive it from the Persian zeb (quoted by Behrmann, but there is some mistake in his reference). This tendency to derive everything from the Persian is to be suspected. The long political connection between Babylon and the Aryan nations north and east of it might easily introduce words of such an origin into the writings of a Babylonian diplomat. Another derivation is from זָחָה (zahah), but seems doubtful, as, although in Hebrew, there is no trace of such a verb in Aramaic. The only other word that merits note is רֵוֵה (rēvē), "appearance." Professor Bevan says it is the only appearance in Aramaic of a corresponding root to the Hebrew רָאָה (rā'āh), "to see." Daniel, it will be seen, lays stress on the emotions which each feature excited, in order to recall, not only the dream, but something of the feelings with which Nebuchadnezzar had beheld it. With this dream of Nebuchadnezzar we might compare the dream of the seer of Asshurbanipal, given by Lenormant, "The seer (voyant) narrated to Asshurbanipal how the goddess Istar had stood before him seated in her chariot, surrounded by flame, with a bow in her hand". It is unlikely that the colossal image was identified by Nebuchadnezzar with any one of the Babylonian gods; perhaps this was one of the elements of the terror excited by the vision, that he could not identify him. If he did make any identification, Daniel does not do anything to justify him in any such identification.
Daniel 2:32, Daniel 2:33
This image's head was of fine gold, his breasts and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. The versions present no occasion of r,-mark, save that Theodotion has a doublet, αἱ χεῖρες, translating, "the hands, the breast, and the arms." The word rendered "fine" is really "good" (טָב, ṭab). Naturally, there have not been preserved to us any composite images of this kind; gold and silver would certainly soon have found their way to the melting-pot after the fall of the Babylonian empire, had such a statue been erected in Babylon. Brass and iron were too precious not to follow in the same road. Among the Greeks, as we know, there were what were called "chryselephantine" statues, partly gold and partly ivory. In the description given of the Temple of Belus, we see a succession something akin to that in the statue, but it may be doubted whether we may deduce any connection between the two on that account. In the Book of Enoch the apocalyptist sees mountains of different kinds of metal—of gold, silver, brass, iron, tin, and mercury, the first four coinciding with the metals in Daniel's vision. Ewald refers in a note to the possibility that this idea might be borrowed from Hesiod, but rightly dismisses it as improbable. As to the metals used, gold and silver were well known in ancient times, as also iron, though, from the difficulty of working it, later. What is here translated "brass" ought to be rendered "copper;" "bronze" certainly was known very early, but the whole use of the word, נְחָשׁ (Aramaic), or נְחשֶׁת (Hebrew), implies that it is a simple metal; thus Deuteronomy 8:9, "Out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass" (Hebrew, נְחשֶׁת; Onkelos, נְחָשָׁא). In this statue the progressive degradation of the material and situation is to be observed. The head, the highest part, gold; the shoulders, lower, silver; the belly and thighs, lower still, brass; the legs, lower yet, iron; and the feet and toes, lowest of all, a mixture of iron and clay. It is observed by Kliefoth that there is further a growing division. The head is one, without any appearance of division; the portion consisting of the breast and arms is divided, though slightly, for the chest is more important and bulky than the arms; the belly and thighs form a portion which from the plural form given to the word translated "belly," מעוֹהי (m‛ohı̄), suggests more of dividedness than does that above. The lowest portion, that forming the legs and toes, has the greatest amount of division. Kliefoth also refers to another point—that while there is a progressive degradation of the metal, there is also progression in degrees of hardness, silver being harder than gold, copper harder than silver, and iron hardest of all; then suddenly the iron is mingled with clay. There is not a new, softer material added to form a new fifth part; but there is a mingling of "clay "—clay suitable for the potter, or rather that has already been baked in the kiln, and therefore in the last degree brittle. In fact, there is a progress in frangibility—gold the most ductile of metals, and iron the least so, then clay, when baked, more brittle still. There are many other successions that might be followed, which are at least ingenious. The idea suggested by the phrase, "part of iron and part of clay," is that there was not a complete mingling, but that portions were seen that were clearly clay, and other portions as clearly still iron; there was therefore the superadded notion of the imperfect union of the parts with the necessary additional weakness which follows.
Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Practically, the versions are at one with the Massoretic text in regard to this verse, save that the two Greek versions add, ἐξ ὅρους, "out of the mountain" Concerning the Chaldee text, we would remark that in the dual form בִּידַיִן (biydayin), the dual has disappeared in the Aramaic of the Targums. Thou sawest till implies some time of contemplation and wonder. The king saw this gigantic statue, not possessing the attributes of any of his national gods, and he looks on in his dream in wonder and awe. Till a stone cut out without hands. The Greek versions make an addition which seems necessary to the sense—"out of the mountain." This addition may certainly have been made from the later verse (Daniel 2:45). The logical necessity, however, may have prompted this addition. On the other hand, the evidence of both the Greek versions agreeing in one addition ha. very considerable weight. It is not impossible that the word מִוָּרה (mittūrah), "from the mountain," had dropped from the manuscripts used by the Massoretes. In favour of the Massoretic text is the fact that the Peshitta omits the word. On the other band, Jerome adds de monte. It may be noted, as at least a curiosity, that the Peshitta, instead of the אבן (aben)," a stone," gives kepha, from which Cephas, the name of the Apostle Peter, is derived. As the monarch gazes at the huge image, he sees behind the image a mountain towering above the image, huge as it is. From this mountain he sees a boulder detach itself, as if it were being cut with chisel and wedge, but no hands are risible. Once set loose from the mountain's side, it came by bounds and leaps down the declivity, "and smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay." Every bound that the stone makes down the mountain is larger, and raises it higher and makes it strike the earth with more of force, till with a bound greater than any it had made before, it strikes the feet of the image, "which were of iron and clay" mingled, yet separate—and at once they are broken in pieces: "utterly crushed" is the meaning of the word דוּק (dūq). The Septuagint tendering is κατήλεσεν, "ground;" it occurs in Exodus 32:20, of Moses grinding the golden calf to powder. Theodotion's word is not a correct rendering of the word; it is ἐλέπτυνεν, "beat into thin scales;" comp. Matthew 21:1-46 :(42) 45 ("the stone which the builders rejected"), "on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." It is to be observed that this cutting of the stone out of the mountain took place after the fourth portion of the image was clearly visible. In the dream the catastrophe took place after the stone had been cut from the mountain and had bounded down its side. A similar chronological succession may be expected in the events foreshadowed.
Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors. The versions arc closer to the Massoretic than our Authorized Version, as they all give more prominence to כַחֲדָה (kaḥadah), "at once." It is rendered "together." The LXX. renders ἅμα; Theodotion, εἰσάπαξ the Peshitta repeats the word; and Jerome renders pariter. Theedotion changes the order somewhat, for the sake of making it more symmetrical. The rendering of the LXX. is in some respects different from the natural sense of the Massoretic text, but not so much so as to require us to presume a radically different text: "Then the iron, and the clay, etc; became fragments, and they were smaller than the chaff of the threshing-floor." We have this verse also in the Itala, preserved to us in Tertullian, but it does not differ from Jerome seriously. It would follow naturally enough if the mighty image were so smitten on its weak and fragile feet, that it would come crashing to the earth; but more happened than this. As the monarch looked, in falling, the various parts of the image, as they fell in a heap, became broken, nay, triturated—they became as the dust or chaff of the summer threshing-floor. Summer is the dead time in the East; harvest is over by the end of June, and the threshing of corn then commences. All this huge statue was reduced to particles as small and light as the chaff that is beaten off the grain by the threshing instruments of those days—feet of oxen or wheel of cart. Chaff is a favourite symbol for lightness and worthlessness. In the first psalm the wicked are compared to chaff; so in Psalms 28:1-9. In Hosea, where he speaks (Hosea 13:3) of Israel's sins, he says, "Ephraim shall be like the chaff of the threshing-floor." Isaiah (Isaiah 41:15, Isaiah 41:16) speaks of Jacob getting new threshing instruments to thresh the mountains, and make them small as chaff. It may be noted that the word here translated "chaff" only occurs here. The word does not appear in the Targums, instead of which is used מוֹץ (mōtz), the Hebrew word. In Syriac, again, in the Peshitta, it occurs frequently, as Psalms 1:4 and Isaiah 40:15—another sign, slight in itself, of the Eastern origin of the Book of Daniel. The fact that the word occurred in Daniel would have a tendency to preserve it if in use when Daniel was published, or introduce it if it were not. Yet, as we have said, it does not appear in the Targums. It does appear in Syriac, the language of a people who, as not Jews, would presumably not be familiar with Daniel. The word for "threshing-floor," אִדְּרֵי (iddrēi), is also one that does not appear in the Targums, but it does appear in the Peshitta. Jensen suggests an Assyrian etymology, but Brockelmann marks this doubtful; Lagarde suggests a Persian etymology, also marked doubtful. Whichever etymology holds bears out the Eastern origin of the book. The Targums represent the older Aramaic of Palestine. If Daniel were a book originating in Palestine, the Persian words appearing in it might also be expected to appear in the Targums. And the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. The LXX. rendering is, "And the wind carried them away, so that there was nothing left of them, and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and smote the whole earth." The first portion of this is a fairly correct rendering of our present Massoretic text. On the other hand, the latter clause implies that the translator had before him, or imagined he had, not מלאת, but מחת; not impossibly מלאת might be written without the silent a; thus, מלת, as in the Peshitta. In that case the mistake might easily be made. Behrmann remarks on the vocalization of מלאת in this passage being the same as מחת, but does not remark that it is written defectively in Syriac. The sense in the Massoretic text is much better than that implied in this reading. Theodotion's rendering differs in the first clause of this portion of the present verse, "And the abundance (πλῆθος) of wind carried it away, and place was not found for them: and the stone, when it had smitten (πατάξας) the image, became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." The rendering "multitude" (πλῆθος) is due to reading הָמוֹן instead of הִמוֹן. This form of the plural of the demonstrative pronoun is the commoner in Biblical Aramaic, but does not appear in the Targums nor the Peshitta. It is akin to the Mandaitic הינון. Neither the Peshitta nor the Vulgate presents any peculiarities of rendering. All this mass that had formed the image, though it had been gold, silver, brass, and iron, yet was so ground down—had become reduced to particles so small, that the wind carried them away. So scattered were they that they collected in no special place, so that one could say, "This is the image." The figure is still that of the threshing-floor; the wind, blowing on the grain that is lifted up before it, carries away the chaff, but, search as one may, the chaff, once blown away, cannot be found. A more remarkable thing now takes place—the stone that, bounding down the mountainside, had smitten the image on the feet, so that it fell and became as dust, now grows apace, overtopping the utmost height the image had attained, overtopping the mountain from which it had been cut. Not only did it grow in height, but, as it increased in height, its base broadened till the whole earth was filled with it. There seems to be a reference here to Isaiah 2:2, "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." As the monarch gazes in his dream, the change is completed, the huge image, with its glittering head and gleaming breast, its polished thighs and legs of iron, its unseemly feet that inspired terror by its very appearance, had utterly disappeared, and its place was occupied by a mountain, huge but peaceful, on which the flocks might browse and trees might grow. It may be noted, though not as of importance, that the material of the mountain is most akin with that of the weak clay of which the feet of the image were largely composed. Such, then, is the dream which Nebuchadnezzar had seen, and which the prophet now presented once more before him. We must, however, glance at the picture presented by the reading of the LXX. To the translator the picture evidently present was that of a stone descending from the mountain, and increasing in momentum as it descends; but this stone further increases in size, till before its tremendous strokes and rebounds the very solid earth quakes.
This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. The various versions agree closely with the Massoretic text. It is scarcely a variation when the Septuagint has ἐπὶ, "to," instead of ἐνώπιον, "before," that is to say, לְ instead of קְדָם (qedam). Jerome must have read קָדָמָךְ, (qadamak), "before thee," as he renders coram te, rex; but that also is unimportant. Having finished telling Nebuchadnezzar his dream, Daniel now announces his intention of giving the interpretation. Commentators have noticed the fact that Daniel does not say, "I will give," but "we." The opinion of Professor Fuller is that Daniel here includes with himself his three companions; of Keil, Kranichfeld, Zöckler, and Behrmann, that he identifies himself with all worshippers of Jehovah; Aben Ezra makes the plurality by making him refer to himself and the Divine wisdom; Jephet-ibn-Ali makes its force lie in contrast; Hitzig makes it really the pluralis excellintiae, and quotes in defence Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 11:7, where it is God himself that speaks. Had Daniel introduced the phrase, "thus saith the Lord," this opinion might have been defended. It may be that Daniel fell back on the methods and ordinary mode of address for an astrologer before the King of Babylon (see verse 7). He does not wait for the king to acknowledge that this is the dream he had. Daniel at once pro-coeds with the interpretation.
Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. The Septuagint renders the latter clause, "To thee the Lord of heaven gave the dominion, and the kingdom, and the might, anti the honor, and the glory in all the earth (ἐν πάσῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ)." There appears here to be two cases of doublet; ἀρχὴ and βασιλεία are probably originally alternative renderings of malcutha, and τιμὴ and δόξα double renderings of yiqara. On this hypothesis there is only one Greek word for two Aramaic. We shall consider this later. Paulus Tellensis, in his translation of the Septuagint Version, draws the beginning of the next verse into connection with the final words of this verse as given here. The words, "in the whole earth," is a transference from the next verse. The rendering of Theodotion is, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings, to whom the God of heaven gave a strong and mighty and honourable kingdom," making thus ḥisna, toqpa, and yiqara adjectives of malcūt a. But malcūtha is feminine, and, if adjectives. ḥisna, etc; are masculine. The Peshitta differs from the Massoretic in leaving out one of the terms, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings; God most high (merı̄ma) a strong kingdom and glory has given to thee." Of course, the same objection holds to some extent against this version as against that of Theodotion, but it is to be noted that there are not two words conveying the same idea of strength. As there was only one in the Septuagint, we are inclined to think that toqpi must have been an addition. Jerome's rendering is, "Thou art a king of kings, and the God of heaven has given to thee the kingdom, and might, and dominion, and glory." There seems to be a transposition here. The general scope of this verse and the next is given in Jeremiah 27:5, Jeremiah 27:6. There is certainly high honour given to Nebuchadnezzar in this address, but, at the same time, he is warned that all his glory is bestowed upon him by the God of heaven. It is possible that Nebuchadnezzar interpreted the words as referring to Merodach, the god whom he specially worshipped, or regarded the God of heaven as only another of the gods many and lords many which, as a polytheist, he acknowledged. The title of the Babylonian king was shar-sharani," king of kings," and sharru-rabbu, "great king." Thus in this address the technical title is given him. The Babylonian monarchs assumed this from their Assyrian predecessors, as e.g. Asshurbanipal. From the Babylonians it was passed on to the Persian monarchs. In Ezekiel 26:7 the prophet gives Nebuchadnezzar this title. As we find by the succeeding verse, the kingdom here is not mere royalty or kingship, but the special royalty of practically universal empire; that is to say, universal so far as the knowledge of the times went. Our rendering in the Authorized Version fails in accuracy, in not inserting the definite article, which is really implied in the sign of the status emphaticus. Luther makes the same mistake. Happily the Revisers have altered matters, and inserted "the," as does Behrmann. The Greek Version and Peshitta are accurate in this. The word translated "power," חִסְנָא (ḥis'na), is consonantly present in both dialects of more recent Aramaic.
And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and bath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. The Septuagint, if we take along with this verse the final clause of the preceding verse, has even more of that look of exaggeration which we can scarcely fail to be conscious of in the Massoretic, "In all the earth inhabited£ by men, and wild beasts, and birds of the heaven, and fish of the sea, be delivered (all things) into thy hand to rule over all" The addition to the realm of Nebuchadnezzar of the dwelling-place of the fish of the sea is readily observed. Theodotion has the same addition, "In every place where the sons of men dwell, he gave into thy hand beasts of the earth, birds of the air, fishes of the sea, and appointed thee lord of all." One cannot but observe not only the presence of "the fishes," but also the fact that only the lower animals are given into his power. It may be that here, as in the LXX; the object is to render with slavish exactness the original—unobservant of the fact that the construction was irregular. Behrmann thinks the author had before his mind השׁלטךְ (hashaltak), "has made thee ruler," and then changed the construction. Something might be said for Moses Stuart's view that כָּל־דִידָארִין should be translated" wherever," it' there were any similar construction to be found. The rendering of the Peshitta agrees with the sense of Moses Stuart, "Every place where the sons of men dwell, the bird of heaven, or the beast of the field, he hath given into thy band, and caused thee to rule over all of them." The change of order is to be noted. The Vulgate agrees with the Massoretic. The word for "dwelling" is an older form דארין (dareen), instead of the more recent form, which is that read דירין (dayreen). This copious insertion of the אis an Eastern peculiarity. This assertion of Daniel must seem exaggerated to us, but we must remember the courtly form of address that was usual in Oriental courts, and that Nebuchadnezzar in all likelihood claimed this breadth of empire; so Daniel, in order to make way for the assertion he had already made of the king's dependence on One higher, gives him everything he claims. The addition of the sea to his dominion, although in it Theodotion supports the LXX; is due to a mistaken idea of the point of Daniel's statements. He adds, Thou art this head of gold. This is not, as Hitzig asserts, Nebuchadnezzar personally, but to him as the type of the Babylonianmonarch. This was but natural, as of the duration of this monarchy his independent reign extended to the half. Before his advent as "king's son," the Babylonian Empire had to endure the assault of Egypt, and had to struggle for existence against it. With his ado, at began its glory, with his disappearance began at once its decadence. Only under Nebuchadnezzar was Babylon really imperial. The short reigns of his successors are proofs of an insufficient hand upon the reins. With all the tyrannical moods to which be was subject, and all the wild whirlwinds of passion which were liable to carry him away, Nebuchadnezzar, as presented to us here, was a splendid man—utterly unlike Epiphanes, we may remark in passing, with his low tastes and his cringing submission to Rome. His brilliance was that of Alcibiades; he had nothing of the dignity implied in the head of gold. Nebuchadnezzar had secured the love of this captive, as we see by the sorrow with which Daniel communicated to him his approaching madness. There is thus a reasonableness in making him, in especial, the head of gold.
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. None of the versions presents any difficulties, or gives occasion for any remark, save the Vulgate, which inserts argenteum, as if reading כסף. The word used, "kingdom," not "king," shows, without possibility of reasonable dispute, that in identifying Nebuchadnezzar with the head of gold, the reference is not to him per-serially, but to him as representing his dynasty. The next dynasty is said to be inferior, that is to say, nearer the ground אָרְעָא (ar‛a), which is certainly true of the shoulders in relation to the head. Not only does the inferior metal imply inferiority, but the inferior position dues so also. The metal is omitted here, but stated in the next clause, Another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. The metal is here referred to, but not the position; there is no need to say it is inferior—that is implied when it is said to be a kingdom of brass. We need only refer to what we have said above, as to the fact that "brass" here really means "copper." As the inferiority stated in the first clause is omitted in the second, so the statement made at the end, which grammatically applies only to the third kingdom, applies also to the second. It is only as, in a sense, bearing rule over the whole earth, that any monarchy comes into this statue at all. When we look at these two, we find certainly the two arms suggesting and rendering emphatic a twofoldness of some sort in this power. The fact that, in the description of the statue, the word translated "belly" (מעוהי) is plural, suggests, along with the two thighs, the idea of four-foldness. Faintly is this suggestion made, but the exigencies of the figure must be considered.
And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. The version of the LXX. differs considerably here, "The fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, as iron which subdueth all things, even as iron cutteth down every tree." It is evident that the translator has read אִילָן ('illan), "a tree," instead of אִלֵּין ('illeen), "these." The last clause is due to וְתֵּרֹעַ (vetayroa‛) being written with the :א ותארע; however, ו(vav) is not unlike, in ancient Aramaic script, to כּ (kaph), although ל(lamed) is not like ת(tau), yet the phrase כָל־אֲרַע would carry the reader over every obstacle. Theodotion differs less from the Massoretic," The fourth kingdom is that which shall be as strong as iron, just as (ὅν τρόπον) iron beateth small and subdueth all things, thus shall it beat small and subdue all things." It may be observed that the clause, "and as iron breaketh all these," is omitted from the text. It certainly appears to be an addition, indeed, has the look of a "doublet." This view is confirmed by the fact that the Peshitta also omits this clause. The Peshitta rendering is," The fourth kingdom shall be strong like iron, and even as iron crushes and bruises all, thus even it shall beat small and subdue all." The Vulgate rendering also omits a clause, "And the fourth kingdom shall be like iron, as iron beats small and subdues all things, it shall beat small (comminuet) all these." For these grounds we feel inclined to regard the clause in question as an explanatory note, which has slipped into the text. Before we leave the consideration of the text, we must observe that the word for "fourth" assumes the Syriac, or Eastern Aramaic form, not the form in Chaldee, or Western Aramaic. That empire which was represented by the basest of the four metals, and occupied the lowest position in the figure, is that which is the most powerful. When we go back we find brass is the next in point of hardness and strength; it is the third, and of it, at all events, if not also of that which preceded it, it is said that "it shall bear rule over all the earth." The inferiority indicated by the metals and by the position occupied in the image, did not indicate inferiority in power or in extent of dominion. An interesting theory has been formed by Dr. Bonnar ('Great Interregnum'), that this degeneration was one of type. The monarchy as exhibited in Babylon, especially when the monarch was a man of genius, as was Nebuchadnezzar, was likest to the rule of the Almighty over the world: his authority was without limit, direct and absolute over every one subject to his sceptre The Medo-Persian monarchy had much of the Babylonian absoluteness, but there were, if Herodotus is to be trusted, the peers of the crown, and, above all, there were the satraps, with their almost independent position in respect to the central power. The third, in our author's opinion, the Hellenic, had the monarchy limited, not only by numerous compeers, as the king in Antioch was balanced by the kings in Alexandria and Pergamus, not to speak of the monarchs of Parthia, but also by the autonomous cities with the semblance of freedom. The fourth, the Roman, was yet further removed from the old Divine-right monarchy of the Babylonian type. At their first intercourse with the Jews the Romans were Republicans. Their first conquest of Judaea was made by Pompey, the general of the Republic. To the last the emperor, whatever his power, was still theoretically the first magistrate of a republic. The feet and toes of mingled clay and iron, he held, were modern constitutional monarchies—monarchies built upon democracy and the will of the people. All this is doomed to be overthrown by the coming of the Messianic kingdom.
And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter's clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided: but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall he partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. The version of the Septuagint is worthy of notice here, "And as thou sawest (hast seen, ἑώρακας) its feet and toes were partly of potter's clay, and partly of iron. Another kingdom shall be divided in itself, as thou sawest the iron mingled with the miry clay, and the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, part of the kingdom shall be strong, and part shall be broken. And as thou sawest the iron mingled with the miry clay, there shall be mixings (συμμιγεῖς) to the generation (γένεσιν) of mankind (ἀνθρώπων), but they shall not agree nor be well affected one to another, just as (ὥσπερ) iron cannot be compounded with clay." It may be observed here that a clause is omitted from Daniel 2:41, "but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron." In the forty-third verse the difference is due to זְרַע as infinitive of the verb "to sow," that is to say, the translator must have read למזרע instead of להון בזיי. The addition of ἄλλη has had its origin in a false idea that the feet and toes of the image represented a new world-dominion. Theodotion renders, "Because (ὅτι) thou sawest the feet and the toes part of potter's clay, and part of iron, a kingdom shall be divided, and there will be in it from the iron root in like manner as thou sawest the iron mingled with the potter's clay. And the toes of the feet were partly iron, and partly clay, part of the kingdom shall be strong, and part of it shall be broken (being broken, συντριβόμενον); because thou sawest the iron mingled with the potter's clay, there shall be mixings with the seed of men: but they shall not adhere one to another, even as iron is not mingled with clay." Neither in Syriac nor Chaldee has netzab the meaning "to be firm;" nitzebthah means, in later Aramaic, "a seedling." Originally, however, it meant "to confirm," "to set up," "to strengthen," as the Hebrew יָצַב (yatzab) and נָצַב (natzab). This meaning had been lost sight of by the time Theodotion wrote, or possibly before the translation was made which he revised. The Peshitta does not call for remark, save that it agrees with Theodotion in translating נצבתא (nitzebathah) "root." Jerome renders it plantarium. This new development of the image is to be regarded, not as another empire, but as the outgrowth of the fourth kingdom. This is clear from the fact that there is no new substance introduced of which the feet and toes are wholly made up, but the iron is mingled with a new and inferior substance, potter's clay. The numerical mark "ten," which is to be regarded as the peculiar distinctive sign of the fourth empire, is in the toes. This last empire, whatever it may be taken to be, is one that splits itself up into approximately ten parts or sub-kingdoms. Further, there shall be a foreign element introduced which shall not harmonize with the original material. Professor Bevan is certain that the reference is "to the marriages of the Ptolemies with the Se-leucidae." Notwithstanding that Professor Bevan states this view as if it could not be doubted, it is evidently false. Both the Lagids and the Seleucids were Macedonians, and there was no natural incompatibility. If marriage is intended here, and if the fourth monarchy were the Hellenic, more sensible would have been the suggestion that it referred to the Hellenizing of South-Western Asia—the miscegenation of the peoples inaugurated by Alexander the Great, only it did not proceed very far. Further, it did not signalize the end of the Greek rule, but really the beginning of it. We admit certainly that the LXX. translates in a way that suggests the marriage of a superior with an inferior race. But there is no reference in reality to marriage, but to the mingling of two distinct culture-elements, the infusion of barbarous races into the midst of a civilized; and the barbarians taking on some of the outward forms of civilization would represent better the thing indicated. But to take this as referring to the marriage of the Seleucids and Lagids is certainly as wrong as wrong can be, although it is held by Moses Stuart, Hitzig, Ewald, as well as Professor Bevan. Not one of them shows which, the Seleucid or the Lagid, is "the clay," "the seed of men," and which the governing power or race that mingles with them. Yet the inferiority of the clay is an essential element in the symbolism. Hoffmann's idea, that there is reference to the marriage of the Emperor Otto II. and the Russian grandduke Wladimir with the daughters of the Byzantine emperor, is equally far-fetched. Certainly the intrusion into the Roman Empire of the Germanic tribes on the. one side, and of the Arabs and Turks on the other, is an interpretation much closer to the real meaning of the symbol. A good deal can be said for Dr. Bonnar's theory, that it is the effort of monarchy to rest on democracy. As to the number, ten, it is not to be made absolute; it may be more than ten or fewer than ten. All that is necessary is that the number be considerably more than four, and not so numerous as to suggest an indefinite multitude. The fact of "the toes" occupying the same portion of the image, seems to signify that these ten divisions were simultaneously existing. What is symbolized is clearly a state of matters not unlike what was in Greece after the defeat of the Persians, and before the Macedonian domination—a number of separate states forming part of one system. Such, to a certain extent, was the empire of the Diadochi, or successors of Alexander, only they were not generally more than four, five, or six—mainly four, the Seleucids, the Lagids, the Attalids, and the Anti-gonids. Such was the state of matters under the Holy Roman Empire, when what are now the six great powers were gradually separating themselves off. A similar state of matters existed at the same time among the Mohammedan powers, which acknowledged a certain suzerainty in the Caliph of Bagdad, but warred with each other with great freedom. While we have said that there is an appearance of simultaneity given to these monarchs or dynasties, candour compels us to acknowledge that they may be successive. We would not desire to anticipate what we say below in a special excursus on the four monarchies of Daniel; yet we may be permitted to indicate two senses in which the number ten may indicate Rome. There were ten emperors to the capture of Jerusalem, and the end of Judaism as a civil power, and the consequent independence of the Church from the trammels of Judaism. Further, a fair case might be made out for the different magistrates that exercised authority, more or less supreme, in Rome—consuls, praetors, dictators, magistri equitum, censors, tribunes. All these were replaced by the emperors. We merely indicate this, as we shall consider the subject more at large below.
Daniel 2:44, Daniel 2:45
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never he destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever, Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. The Greek versions differ from the Massoretic text only in the order in which the materials of the statue arc recorded. These are arranged in the reverse order in which they are first mentioned, that is to say, we have first the clay, then the iron, and so on, to the gold. This is the order followed by Jerome. On the other hand, the Peshitta follows the Massoretic order. The reason for the order adopted in the Septuagint. Theodotion, and the Vulgate is evidently a symmetrical one, and therefore more likely to be the result of emendation than the somewhat haphazard order of the received text. It is, however, not impossible that the similarity of sound has led to ḥaspa, "clay," being brought out of its proper place at the beginning of the list and placed in juxtaposition with kaspa, "silver." Ewald thinks that the order of the Greek versions is to be preferred. Professor Bevan is doubtful, and refers to the order of the metals in Daniel 5:4, which begins with "gold" and ends with "stone." In the days of these kings. This must refer to the kings who made up the last dynasty, especially the kings of the sub-dynasties represented by the ten toes. If the traditional interpretation is correct, these days are still future. It is not impossible that all the dynasties of the vision are implied, and that the kingdom of heaven is preparing during the whole period; only the natural meaning is that we have assumed. Shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom. It may be noted that, while in the rest of this chapter the Septuagint renders this title, Κύριος τοῦ οὐρανοῦ or Κὐριος ὁ ὕψιστος, here the rendering is, ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. This is a clear statement of the Messianic hopes of the Jews on one side—a Messianic kingdom and Messianic times. This new kingdom is on a different plane from those that preceded it, which go to make up the mysterious image. It is explained to be from the direct interference of the God of heaven that this new kingdom is intruded upon history. When we look at the material, it is inferior to all that had gone before—inferior even to the fire-baked clay of the potter, which formed the toes of the image. This way of representing the Messianic kingdom would have appeared inadequate to an ordinary Jew. Waiving the fact that he regarded the Messianic empire to be another such as the empires of Assyria and Babylonia, only greater, the Jew would certainly have declared that the Messianic kingdom of heaven was a precious stone, not an ordinary piece of rock that goes to build up the framework of the mountains. It is impossible to deny that it is strange that the symbol should be thus a less precious material than even that of the lowest and weakest kingdom of the worldly system of dynasties. When we look at a metal, how homogeneous it is! With rocks, again, begins individualism. The more precious metals, with their extreme ductility, seem to be further removed from this individualism than the baser, such as copper and iron, and clay is still less removed than iron. But simple rock is furthest removed of all from metallic homogeneousness: the grains that compose it, unlike the chemical atoms of the metal, are visible to the naked eye. The process of degradation, which had proceeded through kingdom after kingdom, had now reached its lowest point. Wherever the setting up of this Messianic kingdom is placed, whenever it is held as occurring, it is certain it fits most naturally the Christian Church. The old civilization, represented by the Assyrian monarchy, had only one free man in the state, and that was the king. The Persians had nobles whose power rendered the king's supremacy less absolute than it had been in the Assyrian days. In the days of Greek and Roman supremacy the freedom of citizenship was, even in the republics, possessed only by a few, the rest were slaves. Still, the freedom was much more widely spread than in the Persian and Assyrian monarchies; only the Church, the kingdom of heaven, made of slaves citizens. It is the very acme of individualism. Looked at from without, the kingdom of heaven was a thing to be despised—a thing for freedmen and slaves, for poor workmen and peasants. In the Assyrian form of government the king was the state; so the royal metal, gold, is used. In the Persian the nobles rule; so we have silver. In Greece it is the free citizens, therefore the artistic but less noble metal, copper, or, perhaps, its composite form as bronze, is used. In Rome, in imperial times, it is the soldiery, and therefore iron is the metal that symbolizes them. Shall we step over the intervening centuries of retrogression, and see in the clay the modern mercantile and manufacturing interests? To the ordinary eye of the world, there is a progressive degeneracy here. The lowest point is reached; not even the rich, not to speak of the noble and learned, but the poor and the ignorant, form the kingdom. Another contrast in the symbol is that these metallic empires remained stationary; they reached a limit, then could go no further—not growth, but stationariness, is represented by their symbol; but this stone cut out of the mountain "grows," and ceases not till it has filled the earth. Further, the kingdoms which went to build up the dream-statue endure only for a time; this rock-built kingdom is an ever-lasting kingdom. It is not limited either in extent or duration. This, again, suits only the Church of Christ; fitted and intended to fill the earth, it also has an unending duration. The world itself may end, hut the Church does not. We do not mean to assert that Daniel foresaw this distinctly; the very idea of the prophetic office implied that the speaker often did not know the full import of his own words. It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. The silent, disruptive influence of Christianity is exhibited in regard to slavery, which was the foundation of the ancient state. Without opposing slavery, to appearance, it laid down principles which rendered slavery impossible. The supreme dignity it gives to the individual, as bearing the image of God, affirms the claims of democracy, and so affirms them that the modern state must disappear. Forasmuch as thou sawest the stone teas cut out of the mountain without hands. Nothing could be more silent or unobserved by the men of the world, or more unlikely to form the beginning of a new world-power than Christianity. If Judaism was regarded as "the mountain of the Lord's house," then this new kingdom was cut from it, as Christianity was from Judaism. And that it brake, etc. The reason why Nebuchadnezzar had seen all this—the growth of this kingdom, the way it destroyed all other kingdoms—was now to be made known. The great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; or, as it ought to be rendered, a great god. The word, as observed by Professor Bevan, is not in the status emphaticus; see Ezra 5:8, אלחא רבא (elaḥa rabba). Daniel thus recognizes the fact that, to his heathen master, all that in the first instance he can convey to him—the only idea he can give him—of the greatness of Jehovah is that he is very great, not that he is the solely Great One in the universe (see Behrmann). Zöckler, Ewald, Keil, and Kranichfeld assert that the fact of the words "great god" (elah tab) being in the absolute, not the emphatic state, is due to the elevation of pectic language. In the first place, this is not poetry, and, in the second place, neither of these writers gives any example of such a change of construction taking place. Made known to the king. Why was it to "the king"? One objectsecured by making this revelation known to Nebuchadnezzar himself was that it secured its publicity. Had the vision been made known to Daniel himself, he could not have announced that the empire of Babylon should pass away, without running the risk of being condemned for treason. The king's action had made both dream and interpretation perforce public in a way they could not otherwise have been. What shall come to pass hereafter; literally, which shall be after these things. This does not mean in the immediate future, but after the state of matters at present existing—the domination of the world by great powers after the system of great world-empires has passed away, then will the Lord's kingdom be set up. And the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure; or, literally, to bring out the emphasis, certain—established—it is the dream, and sure—faithful—the interpretation. This is not a mere assertion of the fact that he, Daniel, had given an exact account of what the king had seen in his dream, and a correct interpretation of its import; of the first the king was the best judge. It is rather an argument: "The account of the dream is correct; from this learn that the interpretation is sure."
Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. The Greek versions render in such a way that we are almost obliged to recognize an act of idolatrous worship. Jerome, too, distinctly says, "Nebuchodonoser … Danielem adoravit et hostias et incensnm praecepit ut sacrificarent." The same idea is conveyed by the Peshitta, but less definitely, from the fact that qorban means a "gift" as well as an "oblation;" though the gift is usually a consecrated gift. In the Aramaic of the Bible we have certain phrases used for "sacrifice;" several of these are here employed: it is true all of them have the possibility of being used in a somewhat lower meaning. The mere "falling down before Daniel upon his face," when the person who did it was Nebuchadnezzar, is extraordinary, and can only be explained by the idea of worship. When we find the word סְגַד (segad) used immediately after, it is very difficult to refuse to believe that the Greek Version and Jerome are right when they translate the latter word προσεκύνησε. The word occurs repeatedly in the following chapter, invariably as "worship." The corresponding Hebrew word occurs in the second chapter of Isaiah, in the sense of "idolatrous worship" (Isaiah 2:20). It certainly does mean "to bend." Had the word thus stood alone, we could not have been certain that it meant "worship;" but when it follows the extreme act of prostration to the earth, "worship' must be meant. The separate terms, minḥah, nı̄ḥoḥı̄n, lenassakah laĥ might, taken separately, mean "gifts" and the "bestowment of gifts;" but, taken together, it is impossible not to regard the action as one of sacrificial offering. It is true minḥah means "a present," as when Jacob sends a present to Esau (Genesis 32:13); but, in that connection, nāsak is not used. It is quite true that the burning of sweet odours was a common enough thing in entertaining guests whom it was desired to honour, but the term neeḥoḥeen was not given to the aromatic woods so used. People sometimes, even at present, scent their rooms by burning aromatic woods, but they never in such cases call them incense. But from the fact that the old Greek version and Jerome read θυσίας, hostias, the doubt seems forced upon us that the reading here has been altered, and that the true reading was deebḥeen—not neeḥoḥeen—this is a change that could with difficulty be imagined as occurring accidentally, but readily enough might happen from the desire to defend Daniel from the charge of allowing idolatrous worship to be offered to him. The instance referred to as parallel—the homage which Josephus relates Alexander the Great gave to Jaddua—is not quite on all fours with the present case. We are, in the first place, expressly told that it was "the name" of Jehovah, engraved on the petalon on the front of the priest's mitre, that Alexander worshipped (προσεκύνησε τό ὄνομα). In the next place, we have no notice of sacrifice or incense being ordered to be offered to the high priest. It is not correct to say that nasak of necessity means "pour out an oblation," to the exclusion of the more general meaning of "offer sacrifice." The corresponding word in Arabic means "to sacrifice" (Behrmann). Behrmann says, in regard to this, truly, "As to Porphyry later, so to the author and to the first readers of this book, it would have seemed indecent if Daniel had allowed himself to be honoured as a god." This would have been true had the author been a contemporary of the Maccabees. The tide of feeling that led Peter to refuse the prostration of Cornelius, and Paul and Barnabas the sacrifices at Lystra, would have prevented any one inventing such a scene. It is perfectly true the worship was probably directed to the Divine Spirit as resident in Daniel, rather than to Daniel himself; few except the lowest and most degraded of heathen worshipped idols in any other way—the divine spirit, the deity, was the real object of worship, whose sign they were, and who resided in them. We must bear in mind that Daniel had been brought up in an idolatrous court, perhaps, also, he had to submit, on pain of suffering the fate that befell Paul and Barnabas when they refused the worship of the people of Lystra. We must lay stress on the very different relationship to idolatry and its worship implied in Daniel thus suffering sacrifice and incense to be offered to him, from that subsisting in the time of the Maccabees. No writer of that period would have written a sacred romance in which he represented a servant of God receiving idolatrous honours. The attitude of later Judaism is exemplified by Jephet-ibn-Ali, who says that though "Nebuchadnezzar commanded that sacrifices be brought to him as to a god, he (Daniel) does not say that he brought them to him. Most probably Daniel prohibited him from doing so."
The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a Revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. The versions do not exhibit any important variation from the Massoretic text. We must observe the plural form of the pronoun "your," implying the Hebrew nation as a whole, or at all events the three youths along with Daniel. It must be noted that the titles are not in the emphatic state, but are simply absolute, implying that Nebuchadnezzar simply placed the God of heaven, the God of Daniel, in his pantheon, as one of the superior gods. The historical difficulty that some have seen in Nebuchadnezzar making this confession to God, and yet straightway framing a golden image, is due to a failure to understand the attitude of a polytheist to his gods. To the heathen his god is a person he is afraid of, much more powerful than he is himself, able to do him much ill, or, on the other hand, able to bestow upon him much good, but able to be deceived, cajoled, and flattered. In worshipping his deities the heathen feels that any breach of sacred etiquette in regard to any deity is far more certain of bringing down the vengeance of the aggrieved power than any crime, however heinous. He would be most potent in prayer who could go over all the deities of the pantheon, and give to each his or her appropriate title. Thus the Hindus tell tales of fakirs whose power over the gods was due to this. One of the forms of this religious etiquette was to address each deity as if he were the supreme god who alone deserved worship. Lenormant ('Los Premieres Civilizations,' 2:159) gives an address to the god Hourki, or Sin, in which he is called "prince of the gods of heaven and earth, the good god, the great god, lather of gods and men, the lord who extends his power over heaven and earth" In the same work there is an address to Marduk (Merodach), the favourite deity of Nebuchadnezzar, in which he is called "god of gods, king of heaven and earth." A little further on in the same work Nebu is called "the supreme intelligence, scribe of the universe, who bears the supreme sceptre, the interpreter of the celestial spheres." In p. 189 Nergal is addressed as "great prince of the greatest gods, who has brought up the greatest gods." In his ' La Magie,' p. 175, he gives an address to Silik-mulu-ki, regarded as an Accadian name of Marduk, in which he is called "god of gods." In his ' Hibbert Lecture,' pp. 97-104, Professor Sayce, on the contrast between the religion of Babylon and that of Persia in this respect, says that Nebuchadnezzar calls Merodach "lord of all," yet declares him the "son of the gods." The same titles are given to Merodach and to Samas, and yet Samas is distinct from Merodach—he is his comrade in the struggle with the assailants of Otis, the moon-god.£ At the same time, we must observe the limitations of Nebuchadnezzar's praise—it is simply as the Revealer of secrets that he praises and honours the God of Daniel.
Daniel 2:48, Daniel 2:49
Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king. In the Greek versions there is not much to be observed. The Septuagint renders the last clause of verse 48 "chief and ruler (ἄρχοντα καὶ ἡγούμενον) of all the wise men of Babylon," reading ūs gan instead of signeen. Theodotion's is a fairly accurate rendering of the Massoretic text, as is also Jerome. The Peshitta renders this clause, "He made Daniel head over all the mighty men (rabiḥeela), and over all the wise men of Babylon." The translator must have inserted, or found before him inserted, the preposition על (‛el), "over," between tab and signeen, evidently a false reading, due to ignorance of the form Babylonianand Assyrian titles assumed. The word סָגָן, or סְגַן:, was originally maintained to be Persian. Hitzig connects it with an Arabic root, sajan, but the true derivation is now found to be shokun (Assyrian), "governor." It appears in Hebrew in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the deutero-Isaiah, as well as in Ezra and Nehemiah, showing the unlikelihood of any Persian derivation. Hitzig appears to regard Daniel as made the king's regent over the whole empire of Babylon; but this is not at all the meaning of the words. We must not be led away to believe that all this promotion befell Daniel at once; the statement here is summary, and includes many steps, and perhaps several years. Even at the utmost of his exaltation, he is not represented here as being made the regent of Nebuchadnezzar. as Hitzig would maintain. It is really only the province of Babylon, if we may not restrict the meaning of the word medeena even further, and regard it as equivalent to "city." We admit that this restriction of significance is not supported by the versions, but the fact that in so many cases we have traces of Syriac influences in Daniel, and that medeena means in Syriac "a city," renders this supposition not an impossible one. The precise limits of the province of Babylon in the days of Nebuchadnezzar cannot be settled. In later times it consisted mainly of the territory between the Tigris and the Euphrates, south of the murus Medius, with some territory between the latter river and the desert (Professor Rawlinson). It may be that the satrapy of Babylon was of considerably less extent. The word hashleet means "to cause to rule." This would be made true by making Daniel overseer in any department of the government of the province. It is not necessary to maintain that Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel satrap of Babylonia; at the same time, shalet is the title given to the satrap of Babylon. M. Lenormant thinks there must be an interpolation when Daniel is said to be set over all the governors of the wise men in Babylon. His arguments are founded mainly on the belief that the castes of astrologers, soothsayers, and magians—all that were included in the class of hakmeen—were hereditary, a thing which has not been proved. A difficulty has been urged by Lenormant that Daniel, as a zealous Jew, could not become head of a college of idolatrous priests. While there may be some force in this, one must beware of testing the actions of a Jew of the sixth century B.C. by criteria and principles applicable to one of later times. At all events, this militates strongly against the idea that the Book of Daniel was written in the age of the Maccabees. When we see Daniel thus, a youth of probably two or three and twenty, promoted ultimately to be over the province of Babylon, and to be one of the king's most trusted councillors, Ezekiel's saying, which places him between Noah and Job (Ezekiel 14:14), becomes natural. Daniel had already been some years in the king's privy council before Ezekiel was carried into captivity. We do not know how long after the beginning of his prophetic work we are to date the prophecy of the fourteenth chapter—it may have been eight or nine years after. But even if it were only six years, Daniel would by this time have been for eleven years a member of the privy council of the Babylonian monarch, and possibly for a considerable portion of that period governor of the province of Babylon. At any rate, Daniel would bulk very large in the eyes of the poor Jewish captives. Though contemporary, he was so far removed from his fellow-countrymen in social position, that his goodness and greatness would be subject to similar exaggeration to that which happens to heroes of a long-past age. A better argument may be drawn from the fact that sagan is always a civil title. The insertion of the word ḥakmeen might easily be due to some scribe who thought that as Daniel was one of the wise men, head of them would be more likely than head of the civil governors of the province, and placed it as a suggestion of what ought to take the place of signeen; a copyist following, inserted it in the text. If we compare this chapter with the sixth, we find Daniel one of three who were to receive the accounts of the various governors. Daniel was thus, if we may apply to his office a title drawn from our own political usage, secretary of state for Babylonia. It is characteristic of Daniel, that having been made rich and great by the king, and having received many gifts at the hand of the king, does not satisfy him; he entreats favour for his friends also. Hitzig's objection that Daniel would have the appointment of his subordinates, would only be valid if Daniel had been made satrap If his shaletship extended merely to some one department of governmental work—and that seems to follow from the last clause of this verse—it is unlikely that he would have this power. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are set over the "business" (‛ebeedta') of the province of Babylon. This word, in Targumic Aramaic, is very generally used of constructions where labour is employed. We may regard their position as one something like being members of a labour bureau. Nebuchadezzar was a very great builder, so much so that almost all the bricks that have been got in Babylon are stamped with his name. While his Ninevite predecessors record in their inscriptions their campaigns, the kings they conquered, and the cities they sacked, the inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar are almost entirely occupied with the various structures—temples, palaces, ramparts, and canals—which he had caused to be made. These buildings would need perpetual surveying. Further, as a great military genius, roads and canals would also be. important objects, in the carrying out of which captives would be employed. And the products of this enforced labour would have to be surveyed carefully. This seems more probable than that Daniel got these three friends appointed to do the work he himself was appointed to. The only plausible suggestion against this would be that Daniel desired that his friends be set jointly over the province of Babylon instead of himself, and, for his own part, he preferred to remain in the gate of the king. We know that those who wished to undermine a favourite in an Eastern court, frequently intrigued to get him promoted to a governorship, and then poisoned the mind of the king against him. On the other hand. the fact that Daniel had his province in Babylon, and would always be near the king when he was in his capital, rendered the implied precaution needless. But Daniel sat in the gate of the king. The gate of the king was the gate of his palace or the entrance to the central court from which all the apartments branched off. In the gate the kings of the East acted as judges over their people; in the gate the king held councils. Hence to sit in the gate of the king conveyed the twofold idea of being the king's representative on the throne of judgment, and of being the counsellor of the king—member of the privy council, to employ a modem term.
A king troubled with bad dreams.
In accordance with the wide cosmopolitan interests with which the Book of Daniel is concerned, we are introduced thus early to the troubles of the Babylonian court. The most striking feature of the book—its apocalyptic character—is first shown in the dreams of a heathen king. Let us notice—
I. NEBUCHADNEZZAR AT THE HEIGHT OF HIS PROSPERITY IS TROUBLED WITH BAD DREAMS. In the previous chapter we saw the king triumphing over the Jews. He is now only in the second year of undivided supremacy. Yet the first glimpse we have of his court reveals the king in trouble.
1. No prosperity of external circumstances can secure the peace of mind which is essential to true happiness. Success in battle cannot ward off the invasion of bad dreams. Wealth and power cannot command the luxury of sleep.
2. High rank is especially subject to restless anxiety. Scripture more than once refers to the sleeplessness of great men (Esther 6:1; Ecclesiastes 5:12; Daniel 4:18). On the other hand, sleep is regarded as a boon (John 11:12), and a gift of God to "his beloved" (Psalms 127:2).
II. THOUGH NEBUCHADNEZZAR IS A HEATHEN KING, HIS DREAMS ARE MESSENGERS OF DIVINE REVELATION. Nebuchadnezzar is the victorious enemy of "the people of God," who has sacked the city of Jerusalem, robbed the temple of its sacred treasure, carried the flower of the nation captive, and entirely broken its ancient independence; and now he reigns over his vast domains as a cruel tyrant (verse 5). With this man God opens up mysterious communications.
1. Thus revelation is not confined to prophets, nor to Jews, nor to good men. God has not deserted the heathen world. He has not deserted bad men (Genesis 6:3).
2. Nevertheless, this revelation is imperfect. It is in a dream—the lowest form of revelation (Joel 2:28). The dream is so shadowy that it is forgotten on the king's awaking. The interpretation is beyond the power of the dreamer. This lowest form of revelation vouchsafed to a bad man is dim, vague, perplexing, and troubling; and the dreamer experiences it as a passive subject. It needs the higher revelation enjoyed by a true prophet—a good man in living active communion with God—to make it intelligible and profitable. Thus there are scintillations of Divine light in the darkness of heathendom; but these do little more than make the darkness visible and increase the terrors of its superstition. They call for the interpretation of the fuller scriptural revelation (Acts 17:28).
III. THOUGH THERE IS AN ELEMENT OF REVELATION IN NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM, THIS ONLY GIVES HIM THE GREATER TROUBLE. It is plain that the king regarded this as a dream of more than ordinary import (verse 2), and therefore it caused him sleepless anxiety. His trouble would arise from various sources; viz.:
1. The sense of mystery. The dream was gone. When present it was unintelligible. Thus a partial revelation may often bring only trouble. Perhaps if we knew more of the unseen world we should only be able to discern enough to fill us with dismay.
2. The apprehension of future calamity. Possibly the king saw enough to recognize a portend of future woe. It must be too often the case that a revelation of the future will bring only distress. We desire to pierce the veil of futurity. It is by God's mercy that it is impervious to our sight (Matthew 6:34).
3. The timidity of an evil conscience. An evil conscience peoples the unseen world with terrors. The Divine and the future are to it both clouded with apprehension.
Character revealed by trial.
Critical moments are tests of character, In this incident the leading features of three distinct classes of character are clearly revealed.
I. THE CONDUCT OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR REVEALS THE EVIL CHARACTER or TYRANNY.
1. It is selfish. Though the charge of a vast empire is entrusted to him, the king exercises, is irresponsible power of life and death simply for his own convenience.
2. It is unreasonable. Nebuchadnezzar not only asks for the interpretation, he demands the recovery of his forgotten dream. Whenever great authority is not balanced by an equivalent intelligence, the result must be some such issue of most unreasonable commands.
3. It is cruel. For failing to meet the king's preposterous demand, the Chaldeans are to be hewn in pieces. Even those junior members, such as Daniel and his three companions, who were not consulted, are to suffer the same fate. Thus the isolation of supreme rank and irresponsible power tends to destroy that sympathy which is dependent on the feeling of fellowship.
4. It is suicidal, in the madness of his disappointment, the king is about to kill the man who subsequently proves to be his best friend. Selfishness is often blind to its highest interest. Cruelty reverts on the head of its author.
II. THE CONDUCT OF THE CHALDEANS EXPOSES THE WEAKNESS OF PRETENSIONS TO MAGICAL POWER. If the dream had been given, these men would have offered an interpretation, though probably one of Delphic ambiguity. But when the demand is for the exercise and test of a distinctly supernatural faculty, they fail. We may note, in reference to the pretensions to second sight of such men and their modern successors, that:
1. They fail before the crucial test which plainly requires supernatural powers. They are too vague for this.
2. They are of no practical interest. Trivial secrets may appear to be revealed, but mysteries of serious importance remain unsolved.
3. Instead of increasing religious faith, they discourage it. The Chaldeans say that what the king requires can be done only by "the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh," thus implying that these gods make no revelation to men, and have no contact with them. Contrast their godless divination with Daniel's higher power of divination, which he attributes solely to the revealing grace of his God.
III. THE CONDUCT OF DANIEL EXHIBITS THE EXCELLENCY OF DEVOUT WISDOM UNDER SEVERE TRIAL.
1. It has immediate recourse to prayer. Daniel deer not pretend to solve the mystery by the force of his own wisdom. He at once invokes the help of God. In the method and object of his prayer his action is a medal of devout wisdom. Thus
(1) he associates his three companions with him in his prayer, and shows his faith in the efficacy of united prayer (see Acts 2:1; Acts 12:5; Jeremiah 5:14);
(2) his prayer is to the point, asking for special help in special need;
(3) it is reasonable,—Daniel asks for deliverance from threatened death, but only by receiving power to fulfil the king's condition; he does not took for a miraculous escape, but for light in the matter of the king's dream.
2. Devout wisdom finds its greatest strength in the greatest trial. If it had not been for the king's savage threat, Daniel might have been long in developing his gifts and realizing his mission. The danger brings him out of obscurity, and compels him to exercise the Divine faculties which are entrusted to him. If we have the right spirit in us to appreciate the opportunities they afford, we shall often find that the extremities and emergencies of life are, under the providence of God, the very means by which his best gifts and graces are made to fructify. Their greatest excellency is in their capacity to shine brightest under the hardest trials.
Divine might and Divine wisdom.
We have here a model of the highest form of worship—a prayer which is wholly adoration and thanksgiving. The importance of this is emphasized by the circumstances. Daniel's life is threatened; he has just received the Divine assistance by which he can give the king his dream and secure his own escape; yet he stays to utter a full expression of praise for the greatness and goodness of God, with the sentence of death still hanging over him. For the most part, if people find scant time for prayer, they have still less for praise (Philippians 4:6). It is well to rise from the receipt of Divine mercies to the worship of the Divine excellences out of which they flow. Thus Daniel, having received a special Divine inspiration, at once contemplates and adores the might and wisdom of God which it reveals. Consider the manifestation of these two Divine attributes in the present instance.
I. MIGHT. The earliest Semitic name for God was "the Strong One," and the idea of the might of God lies at the root of the scriptural conception of his nature. He is not only revealed as glorious in being and wonderful in thought, but he is always seen to be active, working, exercising power. He is not a Platonic supreme idea, nor an epicurean Divinity, far off and unconcerned about us, but a living energizing Presence. Here we see:
1. Divine might is manifested in human affairs. "He changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings" (verse 21). God is spoken of in the present tense. He created the world in the past (Psalms 102:25); but his power is still manifested in maintaining the life of the world (John 5:17). His hand is seen in the fields of nature (Psalms 104:1-35.); it is equally present in human life. God is the greatest factor in history.
2. Divine might is most apparent in times of change. "He changeth the times and the seasons." It is present at all times, but it is evident in the crises of history. The volume of water in the stream is the same while it flows quietly as when it breaks into a torrent; but the roar and flash of the torrent appeal to our senses with a vehemence of their own.
3. Divine might is strikingly evident in overruling the greatest human powers. "He removeth kings, and setteth up kings." The old pagan tyrants thought to set their will up as a god, but they were made to feel at times that there was a "King of kings" above them. The greater the powers that are made to bow before God, the more stubborn their self-will or the more blind their ignorance, the more fully is the power of God revealed in overruling them.
4. Divine might is especially revealed in overthrowing the evil to stablish the good. Creating power is greater than destructive power. If certain kings are removed, other and better kings are to be set up. Destruction is not the end of the exercise of God's might; it only prepares the way for fruitful creative energies.
1. This is seen in the Divine actions—first in the process, by the arrangement that makes "all things work together;" and then in the result which is aimed at, because it is seen to be the wisest end. Power without wisdom would be brutal, and therefore wisdom is needed, not to make up for the deficiency of power by its adaptations and contrivances, but to direct power to its best exercise.
2. This wisdom is seen in the Divine bestowal of it upon men. Daniel traces human wisdom up to the diving: "He giveth wisdom unto the wise" (Exodus 28:3; Deuteronomy 24:9; Ephesians 1:17). In direct opposition to the godless magic of the Chaldeans (verses 10, 11), he tells Nebuchadnezzar that "there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets" (verse 28). We may learn from this that revelation is the result of inspiration; i.e. it is received through the gift of Divine wisdom; it is not flashed upon us apart from spiritual experience. It is the opening of the eyes to see truths which were in existence before, but which were unrecognized for want of a Divine wisdom to discern them.
Daniel 2:22 (last clause)
God knows what is darkness to us, because in him dwells the eternal light which penetrates all darkness. This supreme knowledge is essential to his perfection. Without it infinite power and perfect goodness could only issue in fearful disasters to the universe; and therefore the order and progress of all things bear witness to its existence. Consider—
I. THE FACT OF THE DIVINE OMNISCIENCE AND WHAT THIS IMPLIES.
1. The knowledge of God comprehends all things. None are too great for its grasp, none too small for its notice. The regions of the telescope and of the microscope come equally under its notice (Job 28:24; Luke 12:6, Luke 12:7).
2. It penetrates the deepest mysteries. Our most secret thoughts are known to God, and he knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalms 139:1, Psalms 139:2; Hebrews 4:13).
3. It reaches forward to the whole future. God's knowledge of the future can be to some extent explained on two grounds.
(1) His perfect knowledge of the present must carry with it the knowledge of the future as far as the present contains the germs cf the future (Acts 15:18).
(2) His eternal nature is not limited by our conditions of time, so that he sees all things, not in succession, but in one immediate view (Exodus 3:14; 2 Peter 3:8).
II. THE PRACTICAL INFERENCES TO BE DRAWN FROM A CONSIDERATION OF THE DIVINE OMNISCIENCE.
1. It should lead to sincerity. The hypocrisy which may seem to help us in our relations with me,, is useless before God. The really important question is, not—What does the world think of us? but—What is our character in the sight of God? because our life and all its destinies depend on him (Ecclesiastes 12:14)
2. It should strengthen our faith in the providential care of God. He must know better than we know; therefore it is foolish to fear and wrong to complain. We must even expect that, with his supreme knowledge, he will not act just as we should act with our very imperfect knowledge (Job 34:33).
3. It should encourage our hope in the ultimate well-being of the universe. No one would commence a work if he knew it would end in failure. No benevolent pessimist would create a universe. Before be made the world, God foresaw the fall of man; before he sent his Son, he saw how sadly he would be rejected. If he so acted, knowing all the future, it must bare been because he knew that, after all the sin and sorrow, righteousness and peace would finally triumph, so that the ultimate blessedness of existence should amply compensate for all its earlier misery (Isaiah 53:11).
4. It should lead us to seek our highest knowledge in him. All true discovery comes by revelation. "He revealeth the deep and secret things." In his mind are the archetypal ideas of all things. The knowledge of God is the highest knowledge.
The image and the stone.
The king's dream as interpreted by Daniel shadows forth the history of successive monarchies, and the final overthrow of them by a greater unearthly kingdom. On the face of it it teaches the broad lesson that history is made by higher destinies than the will of kings; that it is determined beforehand according to a Divine scheme. The character of the successive monarchies, and the part they take in the general order of events, is expressed by the appearance of the various parts of the image. The character and missions of the later victorious kingdom is more vaguely revealed in the description of the mystic stone, unhewn by human hands, which destroys the image, and grows to a mountain filling the whole earth and lasting for ever. Notice—
I. THE CHARACTER AND DESTINY OF THE OLD WORLDLY MONARCHIES. The image represents one monstrous, incongruous, materialized human form and nature. So there was a certain continuity in the history of the successive monarchies, and yet no real harmony and organic unity such as characterizes the progressive civilization of Christendom. In them humanity was degraded by reliance, not upon just institutions, but upon material force. They afford a terrible evidence of the paralyzing, deadening effects of mere power uninfluenced by political enlightenment and moral character.
1. Their aspect was brilliant but terrible. (Verse 31.) There was a barbaric splendour about these old pagan empires, but behind the pomp and glitter, brutal cruelty, injustice and selfish tyranny, ran riot. The king was not a father to his people, but a master of a world of slaves; the misery of the nations subdued and crushed by his unscrupulous ambition was mournful beyond description.
2. Their glory was destined to constant deterioration. The first kingdom is the head; the others are lower, and, like the less honourable members of the body, of inferior dignity. The lessening value of the series of minerals (gold, silver, brass, iron, and clay) suggests the same idea more plainly. In the last the deterioration has gone so far that the unity of the central government is lost (verse 33). The progress of humanity is linked to moral character and true religion. Where these are absent, nations are either stationary or retrogressive. In our own day the progressive races are, in the main, the Christian.
3. Their supremacy was temporary, and they were all subject to final disintegration. One kingdom arises after another (verse 39). The last is the most violent and destructive, and contains the seeds of decay from its origin (verse 42). The whole image is destroyed by the mystic stone. History shows how these monarchies were corrupted by luxury and overthrown by newer ambition. There is nothing stable in unjust power. Where great resources are not directed by high principles they are often squandered by a self-indulgent prodigality which brings its own ruin. A Divine retribution awaits all such gross abuses of power. The old order changeth, yielding place to new."
II. THE NATURE AND MISSION OF THE NEW UNEARTHLY MONARCHY. The mystic stone symbolizes one kingdom which is to destroy all the old tyrannies and rule in their stead. This prediction is being fulfilled by the "kingdom in heaven" which Christ founded and is now maintaining among us.
1. It is unearthly in origin. The stone is not hewn" with hands" (verse 34). Christ's kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36; Revelation 21:2).
2. It is aggressive in action. Christ is the 'Prince of Peace," and he came to bring peace on earth, yet not by allowing evil to go on unmolested, but by first making war on it and overcoming it, and only establishing his peace after complete victory over evil (Matthew 10:34).
3. Though small at first, it is destined to become universal in extent. The stone becomes "a great mountain, and fills the whole earth" (verse 35). So the grain of mustard seed grows into a great tree (Matthew 13:31, Matthew 13:32; see also Isaiah 2:2, Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:1). Christianity began in the manger at Bethlehem and the upper room at Jerusalem, but it has grown immensely since then, and it shows increasing signs of vitality, encouraging our faith in its destiny to conquer the whole world (1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 1:22).
4. It is everlasting in duration. "It shall stand for ever" (vet, 44). All earth-born powers are subject to decay. The kingdom of Christ is eternal because
(1) its King is changeless (Hebrews 13:8);
(2) it is based on the eternal principles of Divine truth (1 Peter 1:23); and
(3) the fruits of its rule will be always beneficial (Revelation 22:5).
HOMILIES BY H.T. ROBJOHNS
The revelation lost.
"My spirit was troubled to know the dream" (Daniel 2:3). Since the word "and," at the beginning of this chapter, links it with Daniel 1:21, i.e. Daniel's public life with Daniel's preparation, it may be well here to notice what his preparation had been.
1. At home, and the associations of Jerusalem.
2. Knowledge of previous revelations (see Daniel 9:2).
3. Moral victory at a crisis of history.
4. Experience of life at one of its great centres—Babylon—the court.
As indicating the difference between Ezekiel's standpoint and that of Daniel, note Ezekiel dates from the years of the Captivity—for him, in comparative obscurity, the years dragged on wearily—Daniel, by the reigns of kings in whose court he was. Daniel's experience grew with the years, and he became increasingly fit to receive political revelations—revelations as to the rise and fall of empires.
I. THE DISCREPANCY. Between Daniel 1:5 and Daniel 2:1. Occasion might well be taken from this to insist upon one or two wholesome truths in reference to Biblical interpretation.
1. The discrepancy looks at first sight glaring enough; i.e. as to the dates. Still, with our idea of the sacred writings, we should be justified in believing:
2. That some explanation would be forthcoming, if we knew all the loots. Of the propriety of this assumption, we shall have a striking illustration in the recent clearing up of' the special critical difficulty of Daniel 5:1-31.
3. One might fairly conclude that Daniel is quite as reliable an historian as any other author.
4. The seeming discrepancy is clear evidence that Daniel, and none other, is the writer; for these two dates would never have been admitted in a form apparently contradictory, coming so close to each other as to challenge attention, if the author had been an impostor. Daniel writes straightforwardly the truth, unconscious of the possible misconstruction of his words. This unguardedness of style is a sure sign of the credibility of a living witness, and of the genuineness of any book.
5. There are several explanations forthcoming, one specially credible (see Exposition).
6. Our feeling in relation to discrepancies real or apparent, will doped entirely on our moral attitude in relation to revelation. The believer will treat them lightly; the captious and unbelieving will make the very most of .them (see Alford on receipt of one of Colenso's volumes, in 'Alford's Life').
II. THE PREPARATION. There were subjective conditions of the dream which argue a certain nobility in Nebuchadnezzar. Dreams grow out of waking thought; and, though this dream was supernatural, we may well believe it was naturally conditioned. The mood of the king created a certain receptivity for Divine revelation (verse 29).
1. The cares of empire weighted his soul.
2. His mind projected itself into the far future. (Verse 29.)
3. Thoughts of present responsibility and visions of the future were enter-rained. To all, such high thoughts come at some time or other; but not all entertain them. We may drown them in frivolity, or quench them by intoxication. When God comes to a soul with thoughts worthy of its nature, it is for the soul to open wide its portals and let the glory in. About this young conqueror there was a certain grasp and elevation of mind.
III. THE DREAM. Here, at present, we ignore its contents; we are supposed, indeed, not to know it: and consider only generally whether, and to what extent, the dream may become the article of Divine communications to man. In a complete, discussion, we should have to cite the following testimonies: Those of:
1. Psychology. The nature and origin of dreams should be elucidated, with the view to a just estimate of the testimonies which follow. Sufficient wilt be found for homiletic purposes in Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dict.,' art. "Dreams."
2. Scripture. These inductions seem valid:
(1) "That Scripture claims the dream, as it does every other action of the human mind, as a medium through which God may speak to man."
(2) "That it lays far greater stress on that Divine influence by which the understanding also is affected." In dream, the imagination is in the ascendant; the reason, dormant.
(3) That dream as a medium of Divine communication is inferior to prophecy.
(4) That dreams, therefore, were granted:
(a) To the heathen rather than to the covenant people of God.
(b) To the latter only during their earliest and most imperfect individual knowledge of him.
(c) Only in the earliest ages, and less frequently as the revelations of prophecy increase.
(d) Almost invariably require an interpreter. These last four points are all illustrated by the dreams in the Book of Daniel.
3. Experience. The reference here is to that modern experience, of which we may be either the subjects or the observers. Even in a Christian civilization like ours, the superstitious regard fur dreams is so common, that the following truths may well be insisted on:
(1) That dreams should never for us stand in the place of revelation.
(2) Should be disregarded entirely, when contravening the truth "as it is in Jesus"
(3) That God may see fit by dream to prepare the mind for the future.
(4) That there seems well-authenticated instances in which the coming event has been imaged in dream. Surely he who made the soul can have access to it by night or by day, directly or mediately, as he will In the application of these truths to our own life, the greatest spiritual wisdom will be necessary.
IV. THE SEARCH. We do not agree with Keil, that the king remembered the dream, and was intent on testing the value of the interpretation by making the interpreter tell also the dream itself; nor with the reasons he assigns for that interpretation. We believe that the dream was gone from memory, yet leaving behind such an impression that the king would recognize it on its being described, and also leaving behind an idea of its tremend us import, and a conviction that its origin was Divine. Here note:
1. The mission of oblivion. "God sometimes serves his own purposes by putting things out of men's minds, as well as by putting things into their minds." By the king's forgetfulness Daniel came to be honoured, and in him the God of Daniel.
2. The adaptation of Divine revelations. From Daniel 2:4 to 8:28 the language of the book is Chaldee; as though God would throw open the revelation through Daniel to the people of Babylonia as well as to the Jew. After Daniel 8:1-27. the language reverts to Hebrew, for the communications are then chiefly for Israel. This adaptation one instance of what obtains universally.
3. The infirmities of even noble minds. There were many elements of greatness about Nebuchadnezzar; but all shaded by:
(1) Superstition. Seeking for light where no light could be found—from the magi of various grades.
(2) Unreason. Demanding both dream and interpretation. A certain sort of wisdom might interpret; but only the omniscience of God could recover the dream.
(3) Cruelly. Many instances besides that in this chapter.
V. THE FAILURE. (Daniel 8:11.) Observe:
1. The error into which exalted intellect may fall. "Gods" imply polytheism.
2. The truth which may shine through error. The magi were aware:
(1) Of the omniscience that is essential to Deity.
(2) Of the limitation that belongs to the creature. The flesh is a veil that hides from us much of the spirit-world.
VI. THE DOOM. Cruel as was the edict on the part of the king, there was, nevertheless, a sort of rough justice on the part of God's natural government of the world, in consigning to punishment the practicers of imposition and traders on the superstitious fear, of men. "They sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain" suggests how oft the innocent are caught in the consequences of the sin of others.—R
The dream found.
"Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision." In this section Daniel is the principal actor; and as he moves through the successive scenes of this part of the sacred drama, his character shines like the light, and may illumine for us the path of life. We shall, therefore, keep him prominent throughout. Observe Daniel—
I. IN THE SHADE.
1. The position. Although Daniel had been trained for distinguished services, pronounced by the king to excel all the magi (Daniel 1:20), he was forgotten by the king, ignored by his fellows of the magian college through jealousy, only discovered to share a common ruin. This was a picture of the trials of his whole career. Daniel the eminent had to contend with the jealousy of the mean. This spirit begot the attempt to cast his companions into the burning fiery furnace. Years after it throws him to the lions. So now the captain of the king's guard "sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain."
2. The moral attitude. Daniel was ever animated by a sense of duty, and more by a readiness to serve those who either neglected or opposed him.
3. The providential call. At the critical moment God, in wisdom and love, supervened and intervened; broke the meshes of the confining net; and called the saint out into that ministry for which he was intellectually and spiritually fit, and also morally ready.
II. AT THE KING'S GATE.
1. The calm spirit of Daniel. There was much to exasperate in the whole situation. Cruel death was impending. But Daniel lived high above events in a serene heaven of the soul, and was, therefore, prepared to come down into the incidents of life, and act with the best effect.
2. His use of means. To act well in great emergencies requires the coolness of spiritual wisdom. Daniel:
(1) Had conference with Arioch.
(2) Sent a respectful message to the king. (We understand that Daniel did not go himself, till later, actually into the presence of the king, but sent in the request by the proper officer.)
3. His success. This may be attributed especially to three causes, note specially the last:
(1) The king's remembrance of Daniel.
(2) The awakening of a great hope in the king's breast.
(3) The hearts of men are in the keeping of God.
III. WITH HIS OWN COMPANY.
1. The prayer. Here observe:
(1) Daniel did not delay. He lost no time. He did not go to consult with the magi, whether there was anything in their art, in their books, that might be of use in the matter. With some men prayer is the last resort instead of the first.
(2) Resolved to make the difficulty a matter of prayer.
(3) Fell back into the soul fellowship to which he belonged. (verse 17).
(4) Seemed the power of united supplication.
In the prayer itself the following specialities are suggestive:
(1) It kept prominent the exalted supremacy of God.
(2) It appealed to his "mercies."
(3) It went upon the principle of committing all that troubles us to God.
(4) It concerned a great public interest. But
(5) one in which the private safety of the petitioners was involved.
2. The prevalence. The all-important fact is that the prayer was answered. The answer was revealed either in a dream, or more probably in a waking vision of the night; and the vision was no doubt accompanied by a clear attestation of the truth of it. Can any one doubt the possibility of such revelation, who has realized to himself the nearness of the Eternal to the human mind?
3. The praise. This was:
(1) Instantaneous. Daniel did not wait till he had verified the dream by audience with the king. As soon as ever he received the mercy, he was ready to praise.
(2) Full. Matthew Henry puts it well.
(a) Daniel gives to God the glory of what he is in himself.
(b) Of what he is to the world of mankind.
(c) Of this particular discovery.
(3) Sympathetic. Friends were associated in the praise, as in the prayer.
IV. IN THE KING'S CLOSET. Here we have Daniel, the living representative of what a true prophet should be. He is not only a type of him whom technically we call a prophet, but of every one who is for God the mouthpiece of vital truth to man. Before the king:
1. He sinks himself. (Verse 30.)
2. He forgives personal adversaries. (Verse 24.)
3. He is forward to put down all that exalts itself against God. (Verse 27.)
4. He has a sense of the moment of his message. (Daniel 2:8, Daniel 2:29.)
5. He glorifies God. (Verse 28.)—R.
Daniel 2:31-33, Daniel 2:37-43
The universal world-powers.
"Thou, O king, sawest, and behold an image, one and grand" (Daniel 2:31). Seize first the imagery of the dream.
1. A grand unity loomed before Nebuchadnezzar. "Behold an image, one and grand" (Chaldee, Daniel 2:31). Four empires represented, not by four figures, but one. Symbol of human power at its highest, that of universal empire, but separate from God. Same spirit and genius in all four. A common thing to represent empire by the human figure; e.g. Britannia. The colossal imagery of the dream the reflection of the magnificent scale of objects in Babylon. But:
2. A diversity.
(1) Inform; for after the head, the human form is double, in the toes tenfold.
(2) in substance: gold, silver, etc.; the diversity constitutes a successive deterioration.
3. Destruction For a time the image stands. At length there rushes through the air, self-detached, a stone, as instinct with life; it smites, destroys, pulverizes, and instantly the image is gone-nothing is left on the wide Assyrian plain but the stone, which then grows to be a mountain, a whole mountain region, filling the field of view, grand, beautiful, with its varied vegetation, from that of a tropical clime to the eternal snow. So complete was the displacement.
I. THE WHOLE. Observe respecting the ancient world-power:
1. Its unity. One image. One universal empire. One in alienation from God. This need not have been. Civil government is of God, may be a reflection of Divine government, rooted in Divine principles, administered in the fear of God, directed to the good of humanity, and so to the glory of God. The government of this world may be one in alliance with God.
2. Its majesty. Empire like this has a majesty of its own, even though alienated from God. Just as intellect or genius may. Man was made in the image of God, in this matter of dominion over men and also over nature. Of all forms of dominion, rule over a nation (much mere of nations) is of God.
(1) The idea of civil government is of God. Government must be. It is of the Divine will. Not some particular form, e.g. monarchical, republican, etc.; but government in essence.
(2) So its realization. Government of some kind is an everlasting fact, perpetuated in the providence of God. Empire has then intrinsic majesty. Much more when in alliance with God.
3. Its weakness. All things human deteriorate, unless redeemed from corruption by the saving power of religion. The life of all that lasts is of God. It would be interesting to trace, if that were possible, the gradual deterioration of heathen religiousness, from the purer Chaldee form to the Roman degradation. As life declined, so the strength of empire went down.
II. THE PARTS.
1. The head of gold: Babylon.
(1) The empire itself.
(a) First in order of time (first universal empire).
(b) Possessed certain unity (head).
(c) Characterized by intelligence.
(d) Magnificent (gold).
(2) Its relation to the kingdom of God, Note the pressure of the all-directing hand on these heathen world-kingdoms, Babylon:
(a) Cured, by the Captivity, Israel of idolatry.
(b) Prepared the world for unity under the Roman empire, and so prepared for the Advent.
2. The breast and arms of silver: Medo-Persia.
(1) The empire. Silver less value and power of resistance than gold. So Persia inferior to Babylon. Not in extent; but greatness is never to be confounded with bigness. (For vivid picture of real state of Persia, see Eber's ' Egyptian Princess.')
(2) Relation to Divine kingdom. The Church returned healed from the Captivity. Second temple built. Persia an instrument for raising the dormant energies of Greece, which became, under Alexander, the universal empire, and spread Greek culture, civilization, and speech everywhere, and so prepared the way for the coming of the Lord.
3. The belly and thighs of brass: Greece.
(1) The empire. None other than Greece; for:
(a) Greece succeeded Persia, and, like it, was a universal monarchy.
(b) Is named in the same order (Daniel 8:20, Daniel 8:21).
(c) Brass armour marked the Greeks; their soldiers were the "brazen-coated."
(2) Relation to the Divine kingdom. The service of Greece to Christ's kingdom was vast. Let the following brief sentences and phrases be suggestive: Alexander no vulgar conqueror; a fusion of East and West his object; hence, colonization, intermarriages of races, foundation of seventy cities; the idea, one brotherhood of humanity. Oriental thought blended with Hellenic culture. As a part of this plan, first dispersion of the Jews; and so everywhere a synagogue, the Septuagint, and Hebrew (i.e. true) ideas of God, sin, the Saviour. Influence of the Alexandrian school on early Christianity.
4. The legs of iron: Rome.
(1) The empire. This was indeed Rome, and not the empire of Alexander's successors; for:
(a) To omit Rome frustrates the design of the image to exhibit in succession the great empires which preceded the Advent.
(b) Rome existed at the Advent, not so the empire of Alexander's successors.
(c) Compare fourth beast (Daniel 7:7 : et seg.).
(d) The symbolic imagery is strikingly close to the reality of Rome.
(2) Relation to the Divine kingdom and the Advent. Under the shield of the prevalent Roman law, Jesus was born, lived, and was crucified. Hence Gentile with Jew nailed him to the tree. The Crucifixion was marked by publicity. Rome destroyed city and temple, broke up the Jewish Church, and scattered the nation.
The most prominent suggestions of this exposition are:
1. The almightiness of God's subordinating power. All things—interests, men, nations, kings—bend before it.
2. The way in which hostile powers serve his purpose. Often unconsciously, and in spite of their own intention.
3. Christ the Centre of history. To him, before the Advent, all things tend; and since, from him all things date. The greatness of the Lord Jesus. Imagine Christ taken out of the history of man!—R.
Daniel 2:34-36, Daniel 2:44, Daniel 2:45
The everlasting kingdom.
"And the stone that smote the image," etc. (Daniel 2:35). We shall assume, what is certain, that the "stone' is the image of the kingdom of the Son of God.
I. ITS CHARACTERISTICS.
1. The mediatorial action of the Son of God is of the nature of kingly rule.
(1) Over souls, willing or unwilling.
(2) Within the Church.
(3) In the world of men.
(4) Over the spirit-world.
(5) Even over the universe of matter.
(See and weigh the meaning well of Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 1:23.)
2. The kingdom was supernatural in its origin. Here may well be discussed the now present doctrine that the Christ was the creation of his time. Set over against it the truth that Christ was a descent and intervention of the supernatural and of the Divine. Not one, nor all combined, of the ordinary secondary causes can account for the establishment, extension, perpetuity of the kingdom. "Without hands." The result of eternal counsel, founded by the Son of God, perpetuated by the Spirit of life.
3. Insignificant in its commencement. The stone is clearly meant to be small—anyway, small compared with the mountain. Note: Humanly speaking, the Lord belonged, indeed, to a royal house, but in decay and obscurity; was poor; hidden for thirty years in a hamlet on the wilds; no powerful friends; no political connections; of no special learning; the character and calibre of his first helpers; slow progress of the kingdom. To human view, in the stone, nothing; to the Divine, all potentiality.
4. Destined to universal prevalance. Notwithstanding 3.
(1) Look at the vision.
(a) The kingdom began by the destruction of the hostile (Daniel 2:34, Daniel 2:35). The world-powers fell before it. Note: The nothingness of the mightiest human power in collision with the kingdom of God.
(b) Goes on by displacement. Man-created universal empires give place to one God-created. Observe: The great empires of antiquity were unconscious prophecies of the universal kingdom of Christ. There has been no universal empire since, nor ever will be. Neither to Great Britain nor to the United States will universal sway be given, but to Christ.
(2) Is the vision true? That the stone will become the earth-filling mountain may be argued from:
(a) The aggressive character of the gospel.
(b) Past achievement. The tide recedes, only to advance again. Discouragement is local—at the most temporary.
(c) Prophecy. Think! In olden times a dream. A prophetic interpretation. After the lapse of more than two milleninums we, from our watch-towers, mark the ever-growing fulfilment!
5. Everlasting. The kingdom has stood for nineteen centuries, although every form of hostile force has tried to displace and destroy. Force, physical end intellectual, has done its worst. Philosophy, science, ridicule, persecution. The empire of Jesus is the greatest fact on our planet to-day. Over the highest minds of the noblest races. No empire, political or intellectual, can compare with it. There are great powers on earth, but not one to vie with this, to which they are all subordinated. In this the promise of the future. Time is on its side; the Eternal too (see Philippians 3:21, especially in the Greek).
II. ITS SUGGESTIONS.
1. We ourselves must submit to it. Nearer, closer, than any earthly rule, it presses on us. We can no more evade it than we can the civil government under whose shield we abide; not so effectually. Neutrality impossible—the vainest dream!
2. We shall then share the benedictions of this gracious mediatorial rule.
3. We can, must, labour for its extension. With sword as well as trowel (Nehemiah 4:18).
4. We shall then share the day of the final triumph. (Isaiah 53:11.)
5. And enter with the Lord on that sabbatic repose which follows the long ages of conflict. That eternal sabbath closes the prospect in the sublime, successive relations of God (see George Steward's 'Mediatorial Sovereignty,' vol. 2:520-525).—R.
The soul in the presence of great mercy.
"Then the king made Daniel a great man" (verse 48). The revelation of the dream and its meaning was a very large benediction to the king, for it lifted great anxiety from his mind; to Daniel and the three, for it saved their lives. The closing verses of Daniel 2:1-49. present to us the moral effect of the amazing Divine disclosure.
I. THE MORAL ATTITUDE OF THE KING.
1. Entire cessation from self. No trace of that self-consciousness which was so striking a characteristic of the king. Self had become nothing. Self had been swept out of consciousness by the overwhelming benediction which flooded his soul.
2. Gratitude to the human instruments. To Daniel the king gave:
(a) The vicegerency of a province—Babylon.
(b) The chancellorship of the magi.
To Daniel's friends, administrative offices under Daniel in his province (see the Chaldee, verses 48, 49).
3. Homage to the Divine. The ideas of the king were of this kind, that there were many gods, but among them the God of the Hebrews was supreme, through Daniel shone his clear manifestations. Accordingly, to Daniel he offered incense, etc. Distinguish here between the false form and that which was true in spirit. Through the polytheistic cloud the king looked in the direction of the true and eternal Sun—God. He did not, could not, rest in mere secondary causes. He attributed the mercy to the Divine cause.
1. Some omit all gratitude to men.
2. Others withhold devout thankfulness to God. Let the noble king—noble in all the mist that blinded him—in these things be our teacher.
II. THE DEMEANOUR OF THE PROPHET.
1. A moderate estimate of self. Even as an instrument, the benediction had not come wholly through him; he was mindful of his companions, the common danger, their sympathy, their united prayers.
2. Gratitude go friendly helpers. Pleads to the king for them.
3. A consciousness of a real greatness that only God could give. "The king made Daniel a great man." We may argue from all we know of the elevation of the prophet's character that, whilst not ungrateful for the king's kindness, he estimated that elevation at its true value. He must have known that there was a greatness, not of earth, of the spirit, which only the Lord of spirits could give. Such consciousness quite consistent with humility. "Thy clemency hath made me great."—R.
HOMILIES BY J.D. DAVIES
The failure and discomfiture of falsehood.
As every drop of water on the surface of the hills has a tendency to flow towards the ocean, as every step of the racer moves towards the goal, so every event in every kingdom points toward the establishment of Messiah's empire. The exile of the Jews, though apparently a retrograde movement in the spiritual machinery; the special education of Daniel and his companions; the heathen monarch's dream; the discomfiture of the magicians;—all these, and like events in Babylon, were so many lines of influence leading on to the advent of Messiah. God is no respecter of persons, no respecter of places, and if there be a more pliant disposition in the King of Babylon than in the King of Israel, the God of heaven will reveal his will to Nebuchadnezzar, and use him in moulding public events. Consciously or unconsciously, all conquerors and all captives are working out the purposes of the universal Lord.
I. THE GREAT MONARCH'S DISTRESS.
1. For even kings are not exempt from trouble, Yea, their very elevation exposes them to winds of adversity, from which those escape who dwell in the sequestered vales of private station. As in nature, so in human life, there is a marvellous system of compensation. We look at the external palaces of princes, and are too ready to envy their privileged estate; but could we look within their breasts, we should be prone chiefly to pity them. "The sleep of a labouring man is sweet," but the pillow of royalty is thickly sown with prickly cares.
2. Most probably, outward circumstance combined with inward fear to produce this ominous dream. By admitting a natural element in human events, we do not exclude the supernatural. Both elements are under Divine direction. Everywhere God engrafts the spiritual upon the natural. The laws and processes of nature and of human life God uses so far as they serve his particular purpose, and when they fall short of fitness he introduces the higher element of miracle. If Nebuchadnezzar already saw the development of military strength in other royal courts, it was impossible but this knowledge would make a corresponding impression upon his mind, and it would be wanton blindness on our part to exclude this from our investigation of the truth. It is equally certain that an influence from God moved upon the monarch's mind—arranging the materials of the imagery, impressing his imagination with the portentous meaning of the vision, and partly effacing the recollection from his memory.
3. With stupendous condescension, God accommodates himself to the infancy of the race. He who tempers the wind for the shorn lamb, simplifies his lessons to the weakness of our understanding. To the inquiry, "Why should God make known his will to men through dreams?" it is a sufficient reply that he found this method the most suitable to the capacity of man in the childhood of his intelligence. During the hours of sleep, the soul is more free from the disturbance of outward events; the will does not play so dominant a part over the movements of thought; the predilections and propensities of the inner man are unveiled. Men have an intense longing to know the future. We cannot doubt that the same God who has given us a faculty for acquiring all the past could have given us a faculty for foreseeing the future. Some potent reason has prevailed with him to hang an impenetrable veil over our untraversed life. Yet some of the grand outlines of the future have gradually been revealed. Our character forecasts our future fortunes. Practical obedience to the will of God is the best telescope through which we may discern our distant weal. Our real destiny is not wrapt in night. But Nebuchadnezzar was mainly concerned about his dominion and his dynasty; hence his inward distress produced by the midnight vision.
II. THE IMPOTENCE OF HUMAN QUACKS.
1. It must be granted that these Babylonian magicians had attained to knowledge and craft beyond the ordinary attainments of men; but (as is frequently the case) their knowledge fed their vanity; they imposed on themselves the belief that this knowledge gave them access to the secrets of the unseen world, and they sought to impose on others the conviction that they could foretell coming events. Knowledge does not always ripen into wisdom—does not always bear the fruits of humility and truthfulness. These men were deceivers and self-deceived. They made a market out of the ambition and fear of kings.
2. Inflated conceit. They imagined that their skill was the measure of universal attainment. Failing themselves to decipher the problem, they plead, "There's not a man upon the earth that can show the king's matter." The usual plea of weakness: "What I cannot do, no one else can do: let us yield to the inevitable." This is the sophistry of modern sceptics, who prefer to style themselves agnostics. Because they fail to unravel difficulties in nature and in the universe, they rush to the conclusion that the matter itself is inexplicable. "A little child shall lead them."
3. A crucial test. The monarch, unreasonable and unscrupulous as he may seem, brings their boasted knowledge to a real test. Whether these magicians did or did not accurately interpret dreams or forecast the future, the king had never known. He had been compelled to take their pretensions wholly upon trust. The oracular deliverances had been delightfully ambiguous—were capable of wide significance. No guarantee had ever been furnished by these magicians of their honesty. Now a favourable opportunity occurred for testing the skill of these boasted diviners. If their scientific calculations allowed them to descry the future, much more should it enable them to read a page of the recent past, If their popular deities gave them skill to interpret the meaning of a dream, much easier was it for these deities to give their servants power to revive in a man's memory the loss of a dream. If they could not accomplish the lesser task, it was vain to pretend they could perform the greater. It was therefore only just that the king should sharply rebuke them in the words, "Ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me."
III. THE HASTY VERDICT OF THE KING.
1. See the violence of carnal passion. Haste and impatience are always conspicuous signs of weakness. His expectation of escape from mental disquietude had been awakened by the pretentious arts of these magicians, and, this expectation having collapsed, disappointment added another ingredient to his cup of trouble. If he had only given himself time to recover from this mental disturbance, time to reflect upon his responsibility as arbiter of human life, time to perceive his own folly in pandering aforetime to the pretensions of these men, he would have gained a reputation for wisdom, and have rendered the world a service by exposing the hypocrisy of sorcerers.
2. His verdict was excessively severe. The penalty of death was the severest he could inflict upon his subjects, and if this penalty was enforced on every occasion, even when no public injury was done to the state, he confounded all degrees of crime, and encouraged men, who had transgressed in lesser matters, to become desperate inflictors of mischief. When men know that their offence is trivial compared with other forms of guilt, and yet have to endure the heaviest sentence of doom, they will often lend themselves to some desperate project of vengeance.
3. His verdict was indiscriminate, and involved both the righteous and the wicked. Not content with inflicting capital punishment on the offenders, he decrees that their "houses shall be made a dunghill." By such a vindictive deed, innocent women and young children would have been plunged into suffering and disgrace for no fault, and without any advantage to the state. Moreover, the arbitrary decree required "that all the wise men should be slain." This included Daniel and his comrades—yea, all men of intelligence and wisdom, though they had made no pretence to magical art. By a blind act of ungovernable passion, the king would have stripped his court of every ornament, and his government of its best supports. A passionate man usually maims his own face. Nebuchadnezzar would have defeated his own purpose—cut off his only chance of having his dream interpreted—if his vindictive and unscrupulous command had been executed. What vile deeds have royal hands frequently performed l How does the cry of innocent blood from a myriad battle-field rise to heaven against them!—D.
A specific remedy for human distress.
The immoderate anger of the king had only aggravated his trouble without bringing a remedy. Uncontrollable temper is suicidal, it robbed Nebuchadnezzar of his kingly dignity, of the use of reason, of the power of memory. For the time being he had forgotten that, in all matters of practical wisdom, he had found Daniel to surpass all other state councillors. Now he was on the point of staining his conscience and his throne with wanton cruelty, with the waste of life, with the most precious blood that Babylon held.
I. IT WAS A CASE OF REAL EMERGENCY. The terror of the king, caused by his midnight scare, had only an imaginary foundation. Natural cheerfulness was enough to drive that spectre of evil out of the royal chamber. He might have laughed it out of existence. But now a real distress impended over Daniel and all the wise men of Babylon. It was not merely a fear of future disaster; reputation, property, life, were in imminent peril. The royal edict had gone forth for their summary destruction. The executioner was already preparing the murderous weapons. Before another dawn the die might be cast—the deed be beyond recall. Daniel's anxiety was awakened as much for others as himself. With his devout trust in God, death was not to him draped in sable gloom. There were worse evils, in his regard, than violent death. To die in defence of truth; to die in vindication of God's cause, was a noble deed. But others, not so prepared for the tremendous change, were included in the peril. Eternal shame would cover the king. The foundations of the throne might be sapped. The fortunes of God's people might sink into a yet deeper night. Israel's prospects might suffer a blacker eclipse. The mind of Daniel would be impressed with the folly of putting trust in man. The king had, not long before, shown him special favour—had expressed both regard and friendship; yet now, Daniel is condemned to death unheard, unjudged. More fickle than the vernal sunshine is the ephemeral smile of royalty. "Put not your trust in princes."
II. THE TRUE ORACLE SOUGHT. Whether the magicians and sorcerers adopted any measures to avert the approaching calamity, we are not told. Possibly they were paralyzed with fear, and could only hide their heads in cowardly shame. Now the worth and power of true piety emerge into the light. In the darkest hours of trouble, religion shines in brightest colours. There was:
1. An exercise of preventive prudence. However imperative be the duty of prayer, there are other duties which must not be neglected. The want of practical prudence often robs prayer of its efficacious lasses, The wise general will dispose his forces well on the battle-field before he makes an onset. Daniel's first step was to stay the hasty execution of the edict. He calls into exercise his well-disciplined wisdom. He uses his acquired standing in the realm to secure delay. He overlooks no point of precaution. He employs his just influence with the king to gain a temporary respite. He does not attempt to reason with the monarch in his angry mood—that would be a foolish enterprise. He moderates his demand so as to bring it within the compass of a possible success. Prudence is a step towards greater acquisitions.
2. There was united supplication. Daniel's heart was not excited with selfish ambition to secure the honour of a triumph for himself. He solicited the aid of his companions in this holy task, and addresses them by their proper Jewish names, which names reminded them that theirs was an accessible Deity. "Union is strength" in prayer, as much as in toil. The lack of humility, or earnestness, or preseverance, in one may be supplied or may be promoted by another Combined fervour has special promises of success. "If two of you shall agree touching any matter in my kingdom, it shall be granted unto you."
3. There was strong confidence in God. In a spirit of calm and unquestioning confidence, Daniel assured the king "that he would show the king the interpretation." Already Daniel knew that in some way the response would come. Unbelief might have whispered into his car that Jehovah had never yet answered such a request as this. Where, in the range of Jewish history, had it been recorded that the God of heaven had disclosed to one a dream which had lapsed from the memory of another? But faith would reply, "That objection is not to the point. There must be a first occasion, on which God will reveal his will to men on any matter. Let this be the first instance of its kind. The request I make is not in itself wrong or improper. It is not hostile to the purity of God's nature. It does not spring from a selfish or carnal motive. My success will bring honour and homage to the true God. My petition must succeed. Has not Jehovah said, by the mouth of David, our model king, 'Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me'?"
4. There was becoming humility in the posture of their souls. "They desired mercies of the God of heaven." Daniel and his fellow-suppliants presented no claim. They abandoned themselves to the abounding mercy of their God. In a word, they confessed personal unworthiness, and approached the heavenly throne as culprits suing for mercy. This is men's only chance of success. For, wanting all personal merit, they have no opportunity of feigning a false merit in Jehovah's presence. With a glance of his eye he strips the veil of pretence from every suppliant, that while he rewards the contrite, he may dismay the proud and the hypocrite. "He requireth truth in the inward parts." The poor in spirit, he enriches; the boastful rich, he empties.
III. THE ORACULAR RESPONSE OBTAINED. "Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision." In what particular way this desired knowledge was imparted is not said. This is not important. Possibly the dream or vision of the king was reproduced before the imagination of Daniel, with the further disclosure of its signification. But whatever was the modus operandi, it was done. Ascertained fact overrides all pre-assumed difficulties. The same God who permits us to have dreams at all can surely repeat the shadowy spectacle; and if he is the sovereign Lord of men, he can certainly make known to intelligent minds his purposes respecting the future. "With God nothing is impossible."
1. The mode of deliverance resembled, inform, the cause of distress. A dream was the occasion of Nebuchadnezzar's alarm—the occasion of the wise men's peril; a night vision was also the method of relief. Jacob's carnal struggle with Esau was his sin, and also his ground of anxiety; Jacob's midnight struggle with the heavenly stranger was the source of his triumph. Serpents had bitten with death the Hebrews; by gazing on a brazen serpent, they are healed. The fruit of the forbidden tree was the occasion of sin; the fruit "of the tree of life is for the healing of the nations." "By man came death; by man came also the resurrection from the dead."
2. The outcome was gratitude and gladness. "Then," without any lapse of time—"then," while the sense of benefit was fresh, "Daniel blessed the God of heaven." His faith was furnished with an additional proof that Israel's God was a real and living God; that he was accessible to the prayers of men; and that he was a Refuge in every hour of need. It is a blessed necessity that drives us to the throne of grace. As the hosts of winter prepare the soil for a more prolific harvest, so trouble, if rightly used is pregnant with blessing. Now it would be known all through Chaldea, that while the heathen oracles are dumb, the heavenly oracle is ever vocal. The false systems of human invention are covered with shame; the system of God's truth receives new honour. In that hour of anguish, Daniel learnt new lessons in heavenly wisdom—obtained fresh discoveries of the Divine goodness—discovered new methods in the Divine procedure. Now he learns that "God giveth wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding." They that use their capacities shall enlarge them. The man who trades with his ten talents shall gain ten more. He who sows in prayer shall reap in praise.—D.
Special blessing demands special praise.
The state of mind which generates fervent prayer generates also joyous praise. Success in prayer is a fitting occasion for exuberant delight:
1. The basis of sacred praise is gratitude. "I thank and praise thee." Inward insensibility of feeling and forgetfulness of past favours are deadly enemies to praise. When gratitude opens the inner fountains of feeling, the crystal waters of praise freely flow. Thankfulness is the parent of song.
2. God the proper Object of praise. God, in his own nature and excellence, is deserving of the best music of the heart. The unchangeableness and faithful love of God are fitting materials for praise. The covenant mercies of God should be celebrated in praise. "God of my fathers."
3. New blessings received are new occasions for praise. No mental possession is of human origination. Our wisdom is a gift from God. Our power to influence others for good is a talent entrusted to us by God. Answers to prayer should be occasions of hearty praise. The pathway to the Divine favour has been found. New revelations of God's will should start afresh our powers of music. "Oh, praise the Lord!"—D.
A good man becomes both king and saviour.
The actual king in the empire is not always the man who wears a diadem and occupies a stately seat. An astute statesman is often the real monarch. The poor man who, by his sagacity, delivered the city, was the veritable conqueror. The true servant of God becomes a king among men. See, for example, Joseph in Egypt, Moses in the desert, Samuel in Israel, Daniel in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was, at this moment, a captive, bound fast in the fetters of tear. Daniel was a real sovereign, directing the act of state officers, and moulding the destinies of the nation.
I. HERE ARE MARKS OF A TRUE PROPHET. "I will show unto the king the interpretation." To prophesy is not merely to foretell remote events: to prophesy is to disclose the unknown—to unveil mysteries. False prophets are a curse; a true prophet is an immeasurable blessing. Guesses at truth are untrustworthy, deceptive, perilous. Real revelation is a safe anchorage for the soul. Science soon reaches the end of her tether; she enjoys a very limited range. Revelation has to do with the infinite and the absolute—with all the secrets in the universe. To unfold the mysteries of human life, one by one, is the mission of God's prophets. "I will show the interpretation."
II. HERE ARE SIGNS OF KINGLY RULE. Nebuchadnezzar "was angry and very furious;" he had lost command over himself. Daniel had learnt the art of self-conquest. Nebuchadnezzar had commanded his officer to slay the wise men. Daniel, though one of the doomed, countermands the order. The magicians supposed that their lives were at the disposal of the monarch. They really were, by God's ordination, at the disposal of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar was a captive to dreadful apprehensions; feared a conspiracy; immured himself in the palace. Daniel walked abroad; breathed the sweet air of liberty; and wielded a power more mysterious than any enchanter's wand. Nebuchadnezzar had said, "Let there be war!" Daniel said, "Peace, be still!" The king had said to Arioch, "Unsheath thy sword, and slay!" Daniel countersaid, "Put up thy sword into its sheath, and spare!" The king had said to the wise men, "Die!" Daniel said instead, "Live I" And the voice of Daniel prevailed.
III. Here we have, in type and emblem, A REAL SAVIOUR. It is easy enough to destroy; it is difficult to save. A child may set a city on fire; ten thousand men may be impotent to save it. A madman has destroyed in five minutes what human genuine had taken years to create. The fiat from Nebuchadnezzar's lips had been, "Destroy destroy all the wise men of Babylon!" But Daniel had issued another mandate, "Destroy not!" and Daniel's word prevailed. A strange foreshadowing this of another event. Five hundred years later Herod commanded the massacre of all the infants in Bethlehem; yet One of the innocent babes was spared to become the Saviour of the world and Herod's Judge. So mercy "rejoices against judgment."—D.
Needful preparations to receive Divine revelation.
Subjective conditions of mind are requisite for objective truth to enter. Common light cannot penetrate walls of stone or iron shutters. The electric force will only circulate along proper conductors. And if material forces demand suitable conditions in which to perform their active mission, so much more does the spiritual force of truth require that the hand of the recipient shall be sensitive, candid, impressible. Such was the gross, unspiritual state of some populations in Palestine, that even Jesus could not do his mighty works among them. Daniel proceeds to prepare the soil for the seed.
I. PREJUDICE MUST BE DISARMED. The anger of the king had been so greatly excited by the impotence and the imposture of his wise men, that Daniel perceived it best to forego his privilege of entering the monarch's presence at will. It was better to take the circuitous route of a formal introduction, as if he were a stranger. Hence the marshal of the court precedes the Hebrew prophet, secures the monarch's attention, and introduces Daniel, not as one of the royal college of sages, but simply as a Jewish captive. The former credulity of the king had given place to utter scepticism. So men's minds oscillate between the points of easy, groundless belief and obstinate prejudice. No vice so frequently assumes the air of respectable propriety as this vice of prejudice. It serves as a thick fog to shut out from the mind the clear light of heavenly truth. "There's none so blind as those who will not see."
II. INQUIRY MUST BE AWAKENED. "Art thou able to make known the dream?" Inquiry is the natural state of the human mind. It is its sense of hunger—the putting forth of its prehensile organs to obtain food. To the spiritually inert nothing will be revealed. Sincere desire for wisdom will impel us to interrogate every possible teacher, and to say, "Art thou able to add to my stock of knowledge?" The true philosopher or prophet will often appear in very modest garb, as did Daniel; but the spirit of the learner is a spirit of humility—'tis the spirit of a child. Remote as the antipodes is the temper that asks, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" "Every one that seeketh findeth." We may often find through a dependent—through a despised slave—what we cannot find ourselves. Nebuchadnezzar, with all his royal gifts, could not find an interpreter. Arioch, the captain of his guard, greets him with the news, "I have found him!" A little captive maid in Naaman's kitchen could direct her master where to find a cure for his leprosy.
III. TRUST IN FALSE PROPHETS AND IN FALSE SYSTEMS MUST BE DESTROYED. Side by side with the growth of true faith must proceed the destruction of a false faith. The pompous monarch had rested his faith in the magicians and soothsayers, without sufficient reason. He had very likely prided himself on the superhuman wisdom of his counsellors. Yet what guarantee had he that they had ever spoken truth? Had he ever examined their credentials? ever put to the test their real capacity? If not, he was simply the victim of self-imposed credulity. The institution of sorcery was ancient and time-honoured, but none the less was it false and corrupt. If the king would not take the pains to examine the pretensions of these magicians, he deserved to be deceived. A Heaven-sent teacher is an incalculable treasure; a false prophet is a poisoned cup—a wolf in sheep's clothing "Try the spirits, whether they be of God." No human authority is self-odginative; we must know the source whence it sprang. "Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils."
IV. RECOGNITION OF GOD MOST BECOMING IN MEN, ESPECIALLY IN TIMES OF PERPLEXITY. "There is a God in heaven." Nor is that heaven far removed. "In him we live and move and exist." Even the magicians had confessed that there were invisible deities: "The gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh." Why did not the king in secret prostrate himself before these, and entreat their aid? If we believe in God, we shall recognize him, honour him, and use him in seasons of need. The true God does not love to see us grope in darkness; he longs to give us light. Our mental capacities preach to us this truth. He "revealeth secrets." "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." The secrets of nature he reveals to the patient investigator; and if we will inquire at the portals of the heavenly kingdom, we shall know, by gradual disclosures, the secrets of the invisible world. Even our inner solves we do not accurately know, until God unveils to us the mystery. Daniel was sent to the king, that he might know the workings of his own heart.
V. GENUINE HUMILITY IS A MARK OF GOD'S SERVANT. "This secret," said Daniel, "is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have." Natural endowments of intellect often puff men up with vain conceit of themselves; but the enlightening grace of God's Spirit develops their humility. "The meek will he teach his way." Having revealed to suppliants their own nothingness, their absolute dependence on the heavenly source, he unveils to them all truth that ministers to happiness and purity. The mysteries of his kingdom he hides from the boastful wise and prudent, but reveals them unto babes. The messenger of Divine truth will divert the attention of men from himself to his Master. Like John the Baptist, he accounts himself only as a "voice," and announces that One mightier and worthier cometh—the true Light and Life of men. Humility is a pre-requisite for Divine employment.
VI. WE MUST RECOGNIZE THE NEED OF VICARIOUS MERIT. It is noteworthy that Daniel disclosed the reason why God vouchsafed this revelation to the king. It was not done for the sake of the king, nor for the sake of the magicians, nor for the sake of the empire, but for the sake of the Jewish suppliants. It would be galling to our pride sometimes if we knew to what human mediation we were indebted for Divine blessing. The prayer of some bed-ridden saint has brought down the treasures of heavenly rain upon the Church. For the sake of Paul the prisoner, the lives of all on beard the imperilled ship were saved. For Joseph and his brethren's sake, famine was averted from the Egyptians. Yet these are but faint and imperfect types of that grand scheme of mediation which God has provided for the redemption of the world; and for Jesus' sake, mercy flows in a full stream to men; for Jesus' sake, heaven is opened to all believers; for Jesus' sake, prayer is heard and the Holy Ghost is given. We, too, can be mediators for others; and it may yet be said that for our sakes, and in response to our intercessions, dark minds are enlightened, a world is blessed. Christ the High Priest puts a censer into our hands, and asks us to tilt it with the fragrant incense of spiritual prayer.—D.
In a proper sense of the words, every dream is prophetic. Else on what ground are we to conclude that the dreams of Joseph, Pharaoh, Abimeloch, Pilate's wife, were prophetic; and others not prophetic? Dreams are revelations of dominant ideas and habitudes of mind: they disclose features of moral character; they are reminders of an unslumbering Judge; they serve in some measure to forecast the future. The powers of heaven and of hell lie close about us in our sleep.
I. HUMAN SOVEREIGNTY IS DERIVED FROM GOD. If God had so pleased, he might have placed all men on a level. The principle of co-ordination, instead of subordination, was possible. Some genera of animals seem to have the instinct of subordination to rule among them; others, not. This ambition for rule is, in its original and unselfish character, an endowment from God. Strength, influence, will, power, kingly glory, all proceed from God. What have we of any value that we have not received? Fools men are to be inflated with pride, because another has lent them some possessions in trust. As well may a steward of a lordly estate give himself airs while his lord is absent. As well may the horses yoked to a treasure-van arch their necks and shake their manes because they draw behind them costly metals! Earthly honors are not unmistakable evidences of God's, Invent towards us. He sometimes puts a crown on our heads, that it may lacerate us with its hidden thorns—gives us a sceptre, and chastises us therewith.
II. SOVEREIGNTY, IN SOME FORM, IS GIVEN TO EVERY MAN. It was given to every man to have dominion over the beasts of the field and over the fowls of the air. On every man is imposed the duty to rule himself—his appetite, temper, passions, speech. The loftier part of his nature is divinely commissioned to rule the lower. "Better is he that ruleth his own nature, than he that taketh a city." Our wise and successful government of ourselves forms a course of training which shall fit us to govern others. This truth may well be printed in letters of gold, and set up where we can read it daily. According to our present loyalty will be the extent of future award. "Be thou ruler over ten cities;… be thou ruler over five cities."
III. HUMAN SOVEREIGNTY DOES NOT NECESSARILY IMPLY THE POSSESSION OF THE NOBLEST QUALITIES. The Chaldean sovereignty is represented by gold; the Persian, by silver; the Grecian, by brass; the Roman, by iron. One man, though ill-fitted for the post, may reign by virtue of hereditary succession. Another reigns by reason of his superior sagacity. A third reigns by virtue of real strength of character. A fourth reigns by reason of successful intrigue, or as the result of violent and unscrupulous war. Might is often mistaken for right. One throne is based on law; another rests on bayonets. Qualities and principles very inferior intrinsically often come to the surface, and dominate in human affairs. The dross rises to the top; the virgin metal keeps in obscurity. A Herod is on the throne; Jesus dwells in a stable! The silver is preferred to the gold, yea, the brass takes the place of both. Yet this is only a temporary displacement.
IV. SOVEREIGNTY BASED ON HETEROGENEOUS ELEMENTS COLLAPSES. Iron and clay are both useful in their place; but it was never intended that they should be fused into a unity. A short-sighted monarch frequently vacillates between three or four discordant principles, and, though fortune may, for a time, seem to favour him, yet he never succeeds. Now he insists on royal prerogative; then he concedes to selfish prudence. To-day he uses physical power; to-morrow he yields to fear. "A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." True principle, consistently adhered to, triumphs at last.—D.
Daniel 2:44, Daniel 2:45
The establishment of a permanent kingdom.
It is worth while to note the period in which this new kingdom was destined to arise. "In the days of these," i.e. Roman, "kings." God had chosen to defer the visible manifestation of his kingdom until men had learnt the folly and the crime of attempting to do without him. We of this age are permitted to see the exact fulfilment of these words. Verily our God is a God of truth.
I. OBSERVE THE FOUNDER OF THIS NEW' KINGDOM. When it was said, in a previous part of this chapter, that the God of heaven had given to Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom, it is not meant that God was the only Person taking part in the elevation of that monarch. Human interests and ambitions exercised their power. Possibly Satan instigated the evil passions of some of the statesmen of that day. But all the events were under the controlling will of God. He allows human and Satanic activity, but only within a limit imposed by his own will. On the other hand, the founding of this new kingdom is exclusively his work. From first conception to final completion; the work is God's. The heavenly principles on which it is founded are of his origination. The God of heaven hath done it: who can withstand? "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed. But he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision."
II. ITS MYSTERIOUS MANIFESTATION. It was a stone cut out of the mountain without hands. The process of founding this empire is new and unprecedented. Into its constitution no form of human policy enters. It was a part of a mountain—a small part—mysteriously detached from the solid whole. By virtue of its own innate energy it grew and spread until it became a mountain also. Herein is symbolized the fact that Christ's kingdom on the earth is a part of heaven itself; it shall gradually grow into the likeness of heaven itself. There shall be a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness.
III. ITS IMMUTABILITY. "It shall not be left to other people." In other words, no change of dynasty shall occur. Our King Emmanuel shall reign for ever. As he possesses an unchanging priesthood, so he holds an unchanging royalty. No change in its principles, or in its laws, or in its modes of aggression, shall be permitted. They are perfect in design from the very commencement. Nor, in the best sense, shall the true subjects in this kingdom be changed. Christ hates divorcements. "Having loved is own, he will love them to the end." Once Christ's, we are Christ's for ever. In moving us from the visible kingdom on earth, death, as our King's officer, does but convey to the higher province—the metropolis of the kingdom, viz. the invisible.
IV. ITS ALL-CONQUERING POWER. It shall be ravaged by no other kingdom; it shall vanquish all. its victories may be slow, but they are sure. No weapon that is formed against this empire shall prosper. The nation that will not serve King Jesus shall perish. The powers that assail the Church of Christ shall be broken in pieces as a potter's vessel. During the past eighteen centuries this has been the tale of history. The two-edged weapon of Divine truth has triumphed. The testimony of infidel and adversary is this: "The Nazarene has conquered." It is a bloodless warfare, and ends in abiding victory.
V. MARK ITS PERPETUAL DURATION. The elements of which this kingdom is composed are indissoluble and imperishable. They are righteousness, truth, love, peace. The King himself is eternal and immortal, "without beginning of days, and without end of life." To all his subjects he gives immortal youth. "They shall never perish? Hence there is nothing in this empire that is pervious to decay. Once more will God shake heaven and earth, to the end that what is frail may perish, and that the "things which cannot be shaken may remain." This is a kingdom which cannot be moved. "For he must reign, until he hath put all things under his feet." It is a decree growing out of the roots of absolute and eternal necessity.—D.
The kingly worth of a good man discovered.
As surely as God lives, the Author of all real goodness, loyalty shall become, in due time, royalty. Faithful devotion to him shall be honoured in the presence of monarchs and mighty men. The man who bows in lowly homage at the feet of the Eternal shall by-and-by see others at his feet. "Before honour is humility."
I. THE PROPHET'S SUCCESS. Daniel had proceeded, with honest fidelity, to declare to the king the truth entrusted to his keeping. He had not flattered Nebuchadnezzar with glittering and delusive hopes. He had held out no prospect that the Chaldean kingdom should be permanent. Nevertheless, the Chaldean king felt that there was an authority and a majesty in the truth, vastly superior to his own. He bowed before it. The previous discovery of the magicians' falseness had prepared his mind to value truth; hence he prostrated himself before the visible representative of heavenly truth, with that abject mode of prostration common in his court. The truth from the prophet's lips had produced that inward sense of personal littleness which accorded with reality. The homage he rendered to God's message was, according to the customs of the age, fitting. There was more of kingly nobleness in Daniel than in Nebuchadnezzar; and the monarch, in his way, foresaw the day when the sons of God shall be manifested in royal power. But it was not fitting that the homage due to the Master should be given to the servant; and, though the narrative leaves Daniel silent here, doubtless he disclaimed all right to such adulation, and directed it to be given to the Divine Author of truth. Publicly did the heathen monarch confess that Jehovah was God above all other gods—King over all other kings. It was no slight change wrought in the convictions and temper of the monarch, when he thus cast obloquy on Chaldea's deities, and confessed the power of Israel's God. This was the success which Daniel had sought.
II. THE PROPHET'S REWARD. Although Daniel declines to accept the homage which was due only to the unseen God, he does not fall therefore in the monarch's esteem: he rises higher still. Then the candid honesty of the man compels him to forego worldly advantage, that he may be loyal to truth and to God. Such a man is worthy of large and implicit trust. The interests of the empire can be entrusted to no better hands. He shall stand next to the king: he shall be king in all but the name! No human sovereign can make Daniel a great man. He was great already, moulded and fashioned into greatness by a Divine hand. Such intrinsic greatness the world could not give nor take away. Outward signs of greatness, however, the king conferred. He gave him riches; he gave him rule; made him prime minister of state. The king had learnt by experience that no expense spent on Daniel had been waste. His nourishment and education of Daniel for three years had proved most remunerative outlay. Amply had he been repaid. And now gratitude and interest alike prompted him to confer all possible power upon this right noble man. Never could the title be better conferred—"most excellent," or "right honourable." He "sat in the gate'" to direct the administration and to dispense justice. This was the "sublime porte" of Babylon
III. THE PROPHET'S SELF-FORGETFUL SPIRIT. He has but one request to make of the king, and this request was not for himself, but for others. Having been highly exalted, be seeks gifts for men. Nowhere does the nobility and magnanimity of the man come more into view than here. His sudden elevation to rank and riches and rule have not spoilt him. In him lurks no ambitious pride. He has no thought of invidious rivalry. He is unwilling to enjoy his honours alone. In that hour of unexpected triumph he does not forget his fellow-captives who had joined their prayers to his in the hour of exigency. It may seem a bold petition: it may imperil his reputation with the king. To ask that the native Chaldeans—the officers who had gained illustrious honour by the conquest of Jerusalem—should be displaced to make room for three obscure and captive Jews: truly, this was a large request. Does not Daniel jeopardize all his gains by this daring proposal? Come what will, he will serve his nation, he will serve his God. And if, by sagacious foresight, he can diminish the oppressions of his countrymen, or pave the path for their return to Palestine, he will do it. The sacred fire aglow in his heart is revealed. Self is obliterated. To do good to Jew and Gentile alike—this is his sweet ambition! O man, "beloved. of God," thy name shall be embalmed in fragrant remembrance.—D.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Daniel 2". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26