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NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DREAM OF THE DECLINE OF ALL WORLD-KINGDOMS.
1. In the second year See note Daniel 1:1. “By the most natural way of counting, the three years were the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar, his first year, and his second year, precisely as our Saviour’s three days in the grave were Friday, Saturday, and Sunday” (Trumbull). Many scholars by a slight change of the text read “twelfth” instead of “second.”
Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams Dreams had a great influence on the Assyrian and Babylonian kings, as their inscriptions prove. (See also note Daniel 4:5-7.) The god of dreams, Makhir, is often referred to. The dreams recorded of various kings, and especially the Babylonian “Dream Books,” show that apparitions of animals were considered especially fateful the appearance of a lion, a jackal, a dog, a mountain goat, a stag, etc., each containing a supernatural portent for good or evil. (See Jastrow, Babylonian Religion, pp. 329-351, 402-404.) The records of Assurbanipal, for example, are rich in such omens. The deity appears in a dream to encourage the king; he sends him a message spoken to a priest in a vision and another written on the disk of the moon; he even, on one occasion, appears to Gyges, king of Lydia, the enemy of the king, and commands him to pay homage to his servant Assurbanipal, which command is at once obeyed. So Merodach is said to have appeared in dreams to Nabonidus, the father of Belshazzar, directing and guiding him.
2. The magicians This is a “good Babylonian word” (Fr. Delitzsch) and is found in connection with several other good Babylonian terms. Hommel adds to Delitzsch’s references to the Babylonian magicians ( kardamu) this passage: “They [certain deities?] break the kardami if they give not a right decision.” Babylonian and Persian magic seems to be of Median origin (Noldeke). The Magi, so famous in classical times, were already so powerful in the sixth century B.C. that king Nabonidus gives to himself as one of his greatest titles “Chief Magus,” if that indeed is the meaning of Rab-mag (Jeremiah 39:3). On the death of Cyrus one of these Magi (Gaumata) actually seized the throne, and so strong was the fear of these magicians upon the people that the whole empire was shaken by the insurrection. The magic formulas which have come down to us are positively innumerable. I suppose in the British Museum alone there must be a thousand tablets which give warnings concerning the old woman or the black cat or the black dog. As Budge has said, the ancient Babylonian passed his entire life in perpetual terror of evil spirits and demons and the wizards who could control them. The following fragments of texts from King’s great work ( Babylonian Magic, 1896) show the constant supplications of king and people:
O merciful goddess, I beseech thee to stand and harken to my cries.
I am afraid; I tremble and am cast down with fear.
O Marduk, lord of lords, thou art compassionate; I am weak… may they never
approach me, the magic of the sorcerer or the sorceress. May there never
approach me the evil of dreams; of powers and portents of heaven and earth.
The incantations of the wizards, and magical charms to be used against these, are given in great detail. Lenormant believed that the different classes of magic workers mentioned in this verse corresponded exactly to the different orders among the Babylonian magicians. Other Assyriologists do not recognize this similarity, yet it cannot be doubted that there were wonder-workers corresponding, at least generally, to each class named here: magicians ( khartummim), probably wise men in general, astrologers, or “enchanters” ( assaphim); sorcerers, perhaps “horoscopists” (Prince), that is, drawers of horoscopes or prognosticators (Bevan), etc. Assurbanipal, in one text, mentions the interpretation of dream visions as the special business of the mahe ( magha, magi). The Assyrian generals were always accompanied in every campaign by the asipu, who is mentioned here, that is, the “dreamer,” or “mutterer,” on whose interpretation of the signs of heaven the movement of the troops depended. The Chaldeans are named here and in Daniel 2:10 as if they merely constituted one division of these magicians. They were really not an order of magicians, but the ruling race in Babylon at this time; though the fact that the wise men of the court would naturally come from this race points to the easy possibility of all the literati being called, by the conglomerate alien races with which Babylon was populated, by the name Chaldean, “doer of great deeds.” (See Introduction, II, 8.) One Greek version, which many scholars believe to represent the original text of the LXX., in this verse speaks of the Chaldeans properly as a race: “The magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers of the Chaldeans.” In Daniel 2:27, where the list is given again, the Chaldeans are omitted.
4. In Syriac This does not show that the writer of Daniel thought the Chaldeans spake Syriac or Aramaic. It is more probably a late marginal note, stating that at this point the Aramaic section of the book began.
5. Rather, “The word is gone forth from me” (R.V., margin; also Daniel 2:8). The king’s decision was final, that the dream as well as the interpretation must be given or those who laid claim to supernatural wisdom should be cut limb from limb (compare Ezekiel 16:40, and 2Ma 1:16 ) which was, with stoning, a customary punishment with the Babylonians their houses being turned into rubbish heaps and therefore dunghills (Ezra 6:11; 2 Kings 10:27; compare Records of the Past, 1:27-43). If this be literal history, it suggests either that a sign of the king’s future insanity was already showing itself (chap. iv) or else some previous friction had occurred between him and his religious advisers, this test serving as an excuse to get rid of them. The latter seems far more probable than that the king believed the magicians knew the dream but treasonably refused to tell it (Thomson). Such acts on the part of absolute sovereigns who find themselves being interfered with by influential subjects are not at all rare. Behrmann cites a parallel instance from Arabian history. A king of Yemen was visited with a dream which caused him great anxiety. So he summoned his sages and said to them, “I have had a dream which has frightened me and which I cannot forget; tell it me, and its interpretation.” The wise men answered, “Repeat to us the dream, and we will tell you the interpretation.” “No,” said the king; “for if I tell you the dream, I cannot be sure of the truth of your explanation. He who does not know the dream without being told cannot know what it means.”
6-9. Gifts are promised to anyone who can tell the dream and its meaning, while the strong affirmation of the magicians that they could give a true interpretation if they only knew what the dream was is characterized as lying and corrupt words used simply with the desire to “buy the time” and postpone punishment for their false pretenses until perhaps the king might relent, or a more lucky day for them should come. But the king affirms that he will not relent; the threat which had gone forth from him was irrevocable, and if they failed to do what he demanded there was but one decree or law for them the sentence, or punishment, of death.
10-13. The magicians in utter desperation now appeal to the king’s sense of justice and to the lack of precedent, “forasmuch as no king, be he never so great and powerful” (R.V., margin) had ever demanded such a “hard thing,” which was absolutely impossible excepting to the highest deities, which have no intercourse with man. The king is, or pretends to be, very furious at this insinuation of injustice, and their confession of inability to meet the fair test proposed (note Daniel 2:5) and sends forth his edict of death against the entire order of “wise men,” to which order Daniel and his friends belonged (Daniel 2:13). So Herodotus says Astyages crucified the Magi who had advised him unwisely, interpreting wrongly the portents (128) which could only mean, he thought, either that the magicians were impostors, that they were willfully deceiving him, or else that they had lost the favor of their gods, and in either case they ought to die.
14-16. Daniel, having been informed of the decree, addresses Arioch ( Iri-Aku) the captain, or rather “chief executioner,” of the royal bodyguard an officer well known from the inscriptions ( tabihu) so wisely: diplomatically asking, “Why is the decree so cruel [or, bitter] on the part of the king?” that, although opposing the decree (for to “answer” always means “to take the opposite side,” Behrmann), he learns from this officer the entire story, and immediately, either in person or by petition, addresses Nebuchadnezzar, asking for a definite time, which is not named, with the implied promise that if this is given him he will show to the king the meaning of his dream.
17-19. Daniel joining in prayer with his companions to the one God, whose knowledge and power extend everywhere the God of heaven (Genesis 24:7), who can alone reveal secrets (Amos 3:7; Deuteronomy 29:29) has the mystery opened to him in a dream or night vision. (Compare Daniel 2:28.) Thomson says, “This is the first record of concerted prayer” (Matthew 18:19). He regards this prayer as intercessory, being offered for the deliverance of the other wise men as well as for themselves. (See Daniel 2:29.)
20-23. In a hymn of praise Daniel blesses the all-powerful One (compare Daniel 2:11), whose name is above the name of Bel, or Nebo, or any other heathen God; who is not dependent on lucky days (Daniel 2:9), but who changes times and seasons at his will; who controls all earthly sovereigns; who alone has wisdom and who gives it to those who appreciate it and cherish it; who has light in himself (compare 1 Johni, 5); from whom nothing can be hidden ( <19D912>Psalms 139:12), and who hath given to his servant the answer to his prayer. Rothi Bibi Sanguria, on the basis of this verse, declared, “Light is his [the Messiah’s] name.”
24-26. Daniel’s first thought was to save the Babylonian wise men, so he hurries to Arioch (see Daniel 2:14), who obtains for him an audience with the king. Arioch’s speech would indicate that he did not know of Daniel’s previous visit or “petition” to the king. (See Daniel 2:16, LXX.) The absence of Daniel in Daniel 2:2, and all the later circumstances, would suggest that at this time the Hebrew children were not “standing before the king” in their old place of honor (Daniel 1:19) while the forgetfulness of Daniel shown by Nebuchadnezzar (compare Daniel 1:20) is surprising. Does this lend color to our previous suggestion, that the king wanted a chance to frighten the magicians into a position of subordination more than he wanted to hear his dream? (note Daniel 2:5.) This might also account for the additional humiliation placed upon the Magi when he appointed this youth to be the head of their order (Daniel 2:48).
27-30. The one God of heaven, who has power in Babylonia as well as in Palestine, has chosen to reveal his will to Nebuchadnezzar, and the secret of its meaning, which the wise men were correct in saying could only be discovered miraculously, is now supernaturally made plain to Daniel in order that “the interpretation might be made known to the king” (R.V.), who might thus be led to honor the most high God. (Compare Daniel 2:47 and Ezekiel 28:26.)
31. Daniel recalls the forgotten dream as that of a mighty glittering colossus whose “appearance” was terrible. (Compare Daniel 3:1.)
32, 33. The dreamer dreams through the ages though he knows it not. In that sleep a thousand years were but as a watch in the night. “In the Parsee tradition Zoroaster was shown four trees, one of gold, another of silver, another of steel, and the fourth of iron, and he was told that these four trees represented four ages of the world ( Bahman Yesht). Ovid sings of the ages of gold, silver, bronze, and iron ( Metamorphoses); and though Hesiod ( Works and Days) mentions five ages, he has for them only four metallic names gold, silver, brass, and iron” (Terry). Compare also Dante, Inferno, 14:94, and Goethe, Das Mahrchen.
34. The artificial monster of human workmanship crumbles before the natural, divinely created, agent of its destruction, which, not by human but by divine power, falls upon it at a providentially chosen moment, striking it at exactly the right point to utterly overthrow and destroy it. This rock, cut out from the solid cliff without hands, is the symbol of the new Messianic kingdom before which all other kingdoms must fall. There is no significance in the stone’s striking the feet, unless it is to imply “that the Gentile powers represented by the image are not contemporaneous, but follow one upon another the destruction of the fourth empire involves the complete overthrow of the Gentile supremacy” (Bevan). Farrar brings out the profound symbolism of this vision and how well it expresses “the surface glare, the inward hollowness, the inherent weakness, the varying successions, the predestined transience of overgrown empires.”
35. The little rock out of the mountain stirred by the invisible elemental forces hidden in the heart of nature is unseen, unnoticed, and absurdly unworthy of notice, as it begins to roll toward the vast and glorious image. But though coming silently and unobserved it is moved by a power strong and irresistible as that of gravitation itself, and striking the point of weakness inevitable in every human creation, the monster totters, the iron legs crush down upon the feet of clay, and the proud image lies a hideous ruin, crushed and pulverized into dust, which the wind blows away like chaff (compare Job 21:18; Psalms 1:4; Psalms 35:5), while the stone, as if having life in itself, grows, enlarges at the base and towers in height, till like a mighty mountain it fills the whole horizon of the sleeper’s sight. (Compare Expositor, 9:448.)
36-38. The head of gold is Nebuchadnezzar, whom God has made king of kings, putting all peoples of the world and the beasts of the field beneath his hand, and who, in himself, represented the Babylonian world-empire.
39. Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom shall be followed by a silver kingdom, inferior (or, literally, lower down; that is, nearer the ground) to that of the golden head, and it, in turn, by a brazen kingdom, to be followed by one of iron and miry clay (Daniel 2:40-41). Expositors of the greatest ability and spiritual insight have differed in their interpretation of these four kingdoms. That the first world-empire is the Babylonian and that another is the Greek (Daniel 8:21) all admit; but of the other two empires no explanation can be given which is free from difficulty. The best that can be done is to choose the view which does not positively contradict either the statements of Daniel or the acknowledged certainties of history. We will now consider the three leading positions.
(1) The most attractive view to modern scholars is that the four empires are the Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Greek. In favor of this it is urged that, following the ordinary rules of historic interpretation, the description of the fourth empire of iron, which was afterward broken, divided, and weak (Daniel 2:34-35) and of the fourth beast, with the ten horns (namely, ten kings, Daniel 7:24) among which sprung up a “little horn” which made war with the saints and took away the daily sacrifice (chaps. 7, 8), is clearly a description of the Greek empire, and of the little horn Antiochus Epiphanes, whose reign of guilt is so elaborately set forth in chap. 11. It is also said that the second empire must necessarily be Median, since Daniel himself makes Darius the Mede king of an independent world-monarchy (Daniel 5:31; Daniel 6:0) and therefore whatever history may say, we must interpret these visions from the prophet’s standpoint.
Against this it may be said that, allowing the argument that the fourth monarchy cannot be Roman, and that the “little horn” in each chapter represents Antiochus Epiphanes, it still does not necessitate our making the second empire Median; it may be Medo-Persian, and the fourth empire that of the successors of Alexander. That Daniel did regard the Medes and Persians as a unit, so far as their kingdom is concerned, is clearly seen from the fact that the law of the kingdom, even under Darius the Mede, was the “law of the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 6:8; Daniel 6:12; Daniel 6:15), while, as Dr. Terry himself admits, Daniel’s statement that the two-horned ram denotes “the kings of Media and Persia” (Daniel 8:20) does show that “Daniel himself recognized Medes and Persians as constituting one monarchy” ( Hermeneutics, p. 352). It will not do to say that the standpoint here “is manifestly in the last period of the Persian rule” (Terry); for Daniel himself states that this vision occurred not, as Terry assumes, “long after the Median power in Babylon had ceased to exist,” but in the reign of King Belshazzar (Daniel 8:1) and surely, as Dr. Terry says, we should study these visions from Daniel’s point of view and “in the light of his own explanations and historical statements.” Daniel never distinguishes between the empire of Media and that of Persia, but invariably speaks of these empires as one. Neither the Book of Daniel nor the facts of history warrant us in assuming the existence of a Median empire between the Babylonian and Persian empires. Indeed, as Kamphausen says, “There never really was a Median world-kingdom, either before or after the fall of Babylon.” This is acknowledged by all. Therefore, if Daniel did declare the Median to be the second empire, he made a mistake. So Kamphausen frankly acknowledges. But such mistake ought not to be charged against him unnecessarily, especially in the face of his own declaration in the same book that the law and monarchy of the Medes and Persians were a duality in unity.
Daniel’s thought of the Medes and Persians as joint rulers of one kingdom is exactly that of the ancient writers, like Herodotus and Thucydides, who scarcely distinguished between these two peoples, and is also that of modern historians, who have before them all the facts of modern discovery. Maspero, without any thought of its bearing on a Bible statement, says: “The Median empire had fallen (549 B.C.), but it was a change of dynasty rather than a foreign conquest. Astyages and his predecessors had been kings of the Medes and Persians, Cyrus and his successors were kings of the Persians and Medes” ( Histoire Ancienne, 1893, p. 564). Therefore, we are compelled by the facts of history, in perfect harmony with the words of Daniel himself, to make the second empire not Median, but Medo-Persian.
(2) The view that the fourth empire was Roman took its rise before the Christian era (as is seen from 2 Esdras, etc.), and continued to be so universally accepted by the Christian Church that Luther could say, with only a little exaggeration, “In this interpretation and meaning all the world agree.”
The most powerful argument in favor of this view is that from the days of Nebuchadnezzar until now there have been only four universal world-empires the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, and the Roman. Many mighty emperors like Charlemagne and Napoleon have “hoped and plotted and warred and shed oceans of blood to form a fifth, but they have not succeeded; the fragments of the Roman empire still hold the field.” And this fourth empire corresponded exactly to the description of Daniel; for it was an Iron Empire, a beast with iron teeth, diverse from all which had preceded it, devouring and treading down the whole earth (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:27). Besides, it was “in the days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44), during the Roman dominion, that the prophesied Messiah came, and St. John, in his Apocalypse, means Rome when he speaks of the beast with the seven heads and ten horns.
However, in answer to this it may be said that the Bible writers are not concerned to lay out a map of the world’s history in which all future world-monarchies are mentioned, but (certainly in all other prophecies) confine themselves, so far as details are concerned, to the history which is near their own times and to the kings which have vital relations to Israel. It is entirely in accordance with this prophetic analogy that St. John, writing in the Roman period, should make very specific reference to the beastly Roman empire, but even if the seven-headed beast with ten horns which he describes (Revelation 13:0) be Rome, which is very doubtful (Milligan, Book of Revelation, 1895), that would by no means prove that the one-headed beast with ten horns which Daniel spoke of (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:19) referred to the same world-power. The same symbol is often used in Scripture of very different historic events (Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics, 1891). Indeed there are several other considerations which indicate that Daniel’s fourth empire could not be Rome. It was not the immediate successor of Alexander’s empire; it arose and had its chief field of operations in a different country from that of the other empires of Daniel; it was not Rome, but Syria, which touched most closely the life and fate of the Jewish people at the close of the Greek domination; it is not Roman kings whose life and acts Daniel describes most minutely, but Syrian kings; while the description of this fourth empire of Daniel as iron and miry clay, that is, as “mixed, composite, brittle, inadhesive, not unified and consolidated into one firm power,” does not properly describe the Roman empire at the beginning of the Christian era. Daniel prophesied that the kingdom of heaven should appear on the earth at a time when a kingdom, once strong, had become weak and divided, and when its unkingly kings, like the clay toes of the great image, could easily be smitten (Daniel 2:42). This is not a picture of Augustus and the Roman empire which was at the apex of its glory when Christ was born. “It was three hundred years later than Christ’s coming when the Roman empire was divided, and much later still when broken in pieces and made to pass away. But the stone smote not the legs of iron, but the feet, which were partly of iron and partly of clay” (Terry). Daniel’s fourth empire was to be destroyed, broken to pieces, and swept away upon the rise of the Messianic kingdom (Daniel 2:35); but historically this was not true of Rome. If it be said in reply to this that the deathblow was really given to the Roman empire when the Messiah came, but that it took two thousand years for it to die, and that while the fragments of this empire still remain in the earth, and the “little horn” yet rages, all these enemies of the kingdom will be destroyed in the future, when the Son of man comes the second time in the clouds of heaven; we would answer, with Bruston, that it is incredible, and contrary to all prophetic analogy, that, without saying a word of the first coming of Christ, Daniel should describe here the struggles of the Christian Church through long ages, ending with this thrilling picture of our Lord’s second advent. Nowhere else in the Old Testament is the second advent referred to, and it ought not to be read into this passage if it can be consistently interpreted, as it can, of his first coming.
(3) The third position to which we are forced by the unsurmountable objections to other views is that Daniel’s four kingdoms are Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Syrian.
While objections can be made to this, for example, that the Medo-Persian empire was not “inferior” to the Babylonian (Daniel 2:39); the Syriac kingdom did not break in pieces and subdue all things (Daniel 2:40); the kingdom of God did not strike and crush this Syrian kingdom (Daniel 2:34) which had disappeared before Christ was born the Messianic kingdom appearing not “in” but “after” the days of those kings (Daniel 2:44) yet, instead of being vital and fundamental objections, these are mostly verbal criticisms, such as lie against all rival views. These seeming contradictions to our position are mostly due to the fact that a symbol cannot go on all fours, and a picture cannot apply to every minute section of the reality. (See note Daniel 2:40.)
Gutschmidt and other historians well see that “the fall of Perdiccas (321 B.C.) was really the end of the Perso-Macedonian empire founded by Alexander,” and that following this came the great empires of the Seleucidae and Ptolemies. The empire founded by Seleucus (who at least for a time became “arbiter of the world,” Mahaffy), was, together with the allied kingdom of Egypt (chap. xi), the fourth empire of Daniel. Not only was Seleucus a great king, and a terrible scourge upon the nations of the East, his very name meaning “conqueror,” but he was especially great and terrible to the Jews, and ruled over those very countries “which for nearly three hundred years had been the seat of empire for the three great prophetic dynasties before him” (Cowles).
40. This was true of the Syrian kingdom especially in its treatment of the Jews. I do not imagine the remark is of great importance, but iron in Egypt was closely connected with the evil god Set, and used in liturgies which had to do with black magic. Assurbanipal mentions statues made of gold, silver, bronze, and alabaster. Iron was not used for statues. This new kingdom was “diverse” from all others.
41. Internal divisions and consequent weakness grew more and more pronounced during every generation which followed the breaking up of Alexander’s empire. Perhaps the iron may symbolize the Seleucidae and the clay the Ptolemies.
42. Even the toes, the extremities of the kingdom, shall have in them something of the strength of iron, but shall be “brittle” and easily cracked.
43. This refers most probably to the matrimonial alliances between the Seleucidae and the Ptolemies (compare Daniel 11:6; Daniel 11:17; Jeremiah 31:27), which were intended to strengthen the kingdom, but failed in their purpose.
44. In the days of these kings That is, the kings of the fourth empire and, as all the symbols indicate, at the end of the empire and after the dividing process had greatly weakened it. At this period a new kingdom, like a mountain cliff, is to show itself for the first time and take the place of the artificially constructed kingdoms which had preceded it. This kingdom is to be an everlasting kingdom; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms. This cannot be taken literally. The Messianic kingdom did not literally break in pieces the Babylonian or the Medo-Persian or the Greek kingdom, for these had all been broken in pieces and destroyed ages before, as the book itself elsewhere states (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:11; Daniel 7:23; Daniel 11:4). These successive empires were not literally broken to pieces “together” (Daniel 2:35) but successively. This seeming discrepancy merely shows that symbols must not be pressed too far. The statue really represented successive and not contemporaneous empires, but when a statue, struck upon the feet, falls, it necessarily falls altogether. So, literally, the Messianic kingdom did not arise “in” the days of the Seleucid kings, but shortly after the dissolution of that empire (cir. B.C. 60). So, literally, it was not Christianity, but the power of Rome as the agent of Providence which smote the already crumbling toes of this image of successive world-empires. The emphasis, as is shown by the other symbols used, is not upon the direct assault of the new kingdom upon all these kingdoms (that is, the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Syrian), but upon the fact that it was to immediately follow these other world-empires from which the Jews had suffered so greatly, and to take their place. As Cowles says, the kingdom of Messiah was set up in the days of those kings “only in the sense of preparatory work done by the agencies of divine providence. The demolition of those kingdoms prepared the way for the formal, visible inauguration of Messiah’s kingdom. The visible inauguration and setting up followed this demolition, and was not strictly simultaneous. The language, which is very general, certainly admits this construction. The sense of the symbols seems to require it, and the genius of the entire vision sustains it.” Terry profoundly observes, “The truth is that in the overthrow of all those kingdoms Babylon as well as Persia or Greece the Most High God was setting up his kingdom by preparing the way of his Messiah.”
45. Half of this verse should be joined to the one preceding and a new sentence should begin with “The great God hath.”
47. This verse proves that the “worship” of Daniel 2:46 was not to Daniel, but, as Augustine said, through him to the God whose representative he was; just as Nebuchadnezzar reverenced a living God behind the image to which he was accustomed to pour out libations. Of course Nebuchadnezzar’s words are no indication that he had turned monotheist. He was accustomed to use these titles when speaking of any one of the great Babylonian deities.
48, 49. If this means that Daniel was really appointed viceroy, or shalit, of the province and official head ( rab?) of the order of Magi, he must very soon have lost that position (Daniel 2:13), which might have been arbitrarily given him out of temporary spite toward the Babylonian priests and taken from him when the king and these ecclesiastics became reconciled. (See note Daniel 2:5.) Zockler says, “What really was conferred on the prophet was probably merely a decisive influence over the administration of the province of Babylon.” For a time, at least, Daniel was “in the gate of the king.” This perhaps may only mean that he abode at the royal court, though, strictly speaking, the “gate” was the most sacred part of the temple or palace, and was, therefore, used for the highest judicial functions (Trumbull, Threshold Covenant). At Persepolis (Susa) on the doorways the king is represented rendering justice at the palace gate. A Babylonian tablet written in the twenty-eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar contains the challenge of a certain person to his opponent to bring his witnesses to the gate of the house Bel-idden, and testify, and so the most sacred city of the empire was named Babylon, “the gate of the gods.” The high court of Turkey is still called the Sublime Porte, or Exalted Gateway.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Daniel 2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26