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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Daniel 4

 

 

Verses 1-37

CRITICAL AND GRAMMATICAL NOTES

[The numerical division of the verses in chap 4 differs in the English Bible from that in the original text, as the latter annexes the first three verses of this narrative to chap3, and consequently begins its chap 4 with Daniel 3:4 of the English Bible.]

Lange's comments have been divided here for presentation in Bible software based on the English Bible. See near the end of the comments for Daniel 3:1 ff for the division point.

Daniel 4:1-6 [ Daniel 4:4-9]. The king’s dream. Inability of the Magians to interpret it. I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house. “At rest,” i.e., in the undisturbed possession of my kingdom, which, according to Daniel 4:19, extended to the end of the earth; “in my house,” i.e., in the abode of peace, not in the field in order to prosecute warlike enterprises. Both expressions therefore refer to the later period of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, when his wars (probably including that against Tyre, Ezekiel 29:17) were ended, and he was able to devote himself to the affairs of peace, and especially to the erection of the great edifices at Babylon, to which Daniel 4:27, and also Berosus, in Josephus, c. Apion, I:19, refer. The time of this dream is therefore still later than that indicated by Daniel 3:1.—And flourishing in my palace. רַעֲנַן, “green,” not שַׁלְאֲנָן, “quiet” (as the analogy of Job 21:23 might perhaps lead us to expect), is the term employed by Nebuchadnezzar perhaps because he already recalls at this point the fresh and strongly flourishing tree ( Daniel 4:7 et seq.), by which he was symbolized in the dream vision. Such a prefatory use of a characteristic feature in the symbolic vision was the more appropriate, since the comparison of fortunate and healthful conditions in life with the verdure of trees was exceedingly common throughout the Orient, and especially so in the Old Testament usage of language; Cf. Psalm 1:3; Psalm 37:35; Psalm 52:10; Psalm 92:13 et seq.; Proverbs 11:28; Hosea 14:7; Ezekiel 47:12 (see upon this thought, my Theologia naturalis, p495 et seq,). For the rest, רַעֲנַן belongs to the somewhat numerous class of words which fell into disuse in the later Aramæism; Cf. Pusey, Daniel, p599–606.

Daniel 4:2 [ Daniel 4:5]. I saw a dream which made me afraid. The abrupt connection, without ו or בֵּאדַיִן indicates the alarming influence which the suddenly transpiring dream exercised over the king, who had previously spent his time in peace; Cf. Job 4:20, and also the numerous antithetic asyndeta in the Proverbs (Introd. to Prov. of Song of Solomon, § 14).—And thoughts upon my bed, viz.: “came to me, arose in me;” an independent clause, which must not be connected with the final verb יבהלנני, but which is rather to be regarded as a parallel to הֵלֶם חֲזֵית, exactly as וְחֶזְוֵי וגו׳ is parallel to וִידַחֲלִנַּנִי in the former half of the verse. The assumption of such a parallelism is not, however, to be strained to the point of regarding (with Kranichf.) the “thoughts” as the details of the vision itself; for they, like the רַעְיוֹנֵי לִבְבָךְ in Daniel 2:29, were probably the troubled reflections of the king on awaking from his slumber, and while meditating on the nature of his dream (Von Lengerke; Cf. supra, on Daniel 2:29).—The הַרְהֹרִין (= the חִרהוּרִין of the Targums) seem, however, to be identical with the Armen. chorhurd, “a thought,” and the word, therefore, is perhaps of Indo-Germanic derivation (thus Hitzig, at any rate; but Ewald, p477, objects; Cf. also Gesenius and Dietrich, s. v. הרר)—And visions of my head troubled me. Exactly similar to Daniel 7:15 b. The “visions of the head” are the several fancies or images of the dream, as in Daniel 2:28.

Daniel 4:3 [ Daniel 4:6]. Therefore made I a decree. The same words occur in Daniel 3:29; Cf. Daniel 2:5.—In regard to לְחַנְעָלָה, see on2:25.—Observe that, in this instance, where the contents of the dream were not forgotten by the king, nor regarded as being especially marvellous, the condition of the king while demanding an interpretation of the dream is very different from that described in Daniel 2:5—a circumstance that strongly endorses the credibility of the narrative.

Daniel 4:4 [ Daniel 4:7]. Then came in all the magicians, etc. Concerning the various classes of the wise men of Babylon, four of which are here specially referred to, see on Daniel 2:2.—Instead of עָלְלִין (read עָ‍ֽלְלִין), the participle of עָלַל, “to go in,” the Keri in this place has עָלִּיי (cf. chap. Daniel 4:8), which is contracted from עַלְלִין, a form that shortens the initial —ָ to—ַ; with the latter cf, e.g., חַשְׁחִין, Daniel 3:16.

Daniel 4:5 [ Daniel 4:8]. But at the last Daniel came in before me. The Kethib אָ‍ֽחְָרֵין is a form with an undeniably adverbial signification (=“at last, postremo”—not adjective: “the last, postremus,” as Hitzig prefers), that does not occur in the later Chaldee, and is replaced by the Keri אָֽחֳחָן (or אָֽחֳרֵן). It is rather to be regarded as an extension of the sing. adjective formation אָחֳרְי, than as an irregular plural in which the e-sound has taken the place of —ַי (see Olshausen, Lehrb. der hebr. Sprache, p208).—The עַד preceding is the familiar conjunction “until” ( Ezra 4:21; Ezra 5:5); the whole expression דעד אחרן, “until at last,” is an adverbial phrase similar to מִן יַצִּיב, Daniel 2:8.—Whose name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god. Cf. on Daniel 1:7. This thoroughly heathen reference to the name of Daniel is immediately followed by a reference to his person, which indicates the feature that had inspired the heathen king with confidence in his superior power and understanding, and, through this, with a faint conception of the nature of that Deity to whom he owed such power and wisdom. From this affirmation “that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee,” which is repeated in Daniel 4:6 [ Daniel 4:9] and Daniel 4:15 [ Daniel 4:18], it follows that Nebuchadnezzar had by no means forgotten what he had learned upon two previous occasions respecting the eminent prophetic gifts of Daniel, and his direct intercourse with the only true God. The expression does not, indeed, have an orthodox look from a theocratic or Old Testament point of view; but it is only to the half a heathen sentiment, similar to the remarks by Pharoah in praise of Joseph, Genesis 41:38.—קַדִּשִׁין is probably not an epitheton ornans of the gods in general, but rather a special designation of the ἀγαθοδαίμονες in distinction from the destructive divinities (Kranichf.).

Daniel 4:6 [ Daniel 4:9]. O Belteshazzar. master of the magicians, רַב חַרְטֻמַּיּא. This title differs only in form and not in substance from that of “chief president of all the wise men of Babylon,” which dignity was conferred on Daniel, Daniel 2:48. It was by no means necessary that Daniel, as the possessor of this exalted dignity, should at once and without ceremony present himself before the king with the remaining חכימין. The more independent position which he occupies, according to this passage, is rather in entire harmony with chap3, where he is absent from a large assembly of the officials of the royal court, and also with chap. Daniel 4:10 et seq, where it is represented that his character as the chief magian was lost sight of by Nebuchadnezzar’s successors, but not that he had been deprived of that dignity. Among the various answers to the question as to why Daniel was not at once summoned before the king to interpret the dream, instead of being subsequently introduced, the one here indicated, which refers to the freedom of his official station, is certainly the most simple and appropriate, since various features of our book appear to conflict with the assumption that he occupied a political or priestly station in the proper sense (cf. on Daniel 2:49; Daniel 3:12; and on8:2). Consequently we prefer this explanation to the many which have been attempted, e.g., that of Jahn, that “custom required that the chief of the magians should not be summoned at the first;” that of Füller, which considers Daniel as being, in fact, an officer of the state (chief satrap) rather than a magian; that of Hävernick, that “the haste with which the terrified king caused the wise men to be summoned” caused the overlooking of Daniel at the outset; that of Kranichfeld, which argues that Nebuchadnezzar, who already surmised the relation of the image of the fallen tree in his dream to his royal person, dreaded the harsher judgment and sterner prophecy of evil to be expected from Daniel, the prophet of Jehovah, exactly as Ahab, in 1 Kings 22:8 et seq, summoned the heathen wise men and seers into his presence, before he turned to the proper source, etc. J. D. Michaelis, however, observes with entire correctness, that a certain and trustworthy answer to that question would require a more exact acquaintance with all the facts of the history than we are able to command.[FN1]And that no secret troubleth thee. אְַנַס signifies in the Targums “to sweep away, to apply force,” but here “to cause difficulty or trouble;” Cf. the Heb. אָנַס, “to compel,” Esther 1:8.

Daniel 4:7-14 [ Daniel 4:10-17]. Subject of the king’s dream. Thus were the visions of my head, etc.; literally, “And (concerning) the visions of my head upon my bed; I saw;” an abrupt and detached clause similar to Daniel 7:17-23.—In relation to “vision of my head,” see on Daniel 4:2.—And behold, a tree (stood) in the midst of the earth. אִילָן, unlike the corresponding Heb. אֵלוֹן, does not signify an “oak” in particular, but “tree” generally; Cf. δοῦς and robur. The position of this tree, “in the midst of the earth,” indicates its great importance for the whole earth, and its destiny to develop an unlimited growth in every direction (cf. Daniel 4:8). The tree thus occupies a central position that corresponds to its exceeding height. The symbolizing of the mighty Babylonian king by a tree recalls the description by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 21:3 et seq, which was probably not known to Nebuchadnezzar, but with which Daniel, the narrator of his dream, must have been acquainted. It also suggests a reference to Ezekiel 17:22; Ezekiel 19:10 et seq.; and, among the earlier prophets, to Isaiah 2:13; Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 14:12; Jeremiah 22:15; Amos 2:9 (cf. also the passages cited above, on Daniel 4:1). The especial fondness of the ancient Orientals for the illustration of the growth or decline of human greatness and power by the figure of a growing or fallen tree, is shown by Hävernick in the parallels he adduces from Herodotus (3:19; the dream of Xerxes; 6:37; the threat of Crœsus to destroy the town of Lampsacus like a pine tree; Cf. also1:108; the dream of Astyages respecting his daughter Mandane), from Arabic writers (Antara’s Moallaka, v51, 56; Reiske on Tarafa, proleg, p47), from the later Mohammedan traditions (Mohammed’s comparison of a Moslem to an evergreen palm in Sunna, according to v. Hammer, Fundgruben des Orients, I:152), and from Turkish history and literature (the prophetic dream of Osman1, according to Murajea d’Ohsson, Allgem. Schilderung des ottoman. Reichs, p 273 et seq.). Cf. further, with reference to the general use of this tree-symbolism among the Greeks, the interesting work of Bötticher: Baumkultus der Hellenen (Leips, 1858).

Daniel 4:8 [ Daniel 4:11]. The tree grew and was strong, “became great and strong;” thus, correctly, Chr. B. Michaelis, Hitzig, and Kranichfeld. The finite verbs רְבָה and תְּקִף do not designate a fixed, but a becoming state; hence Nabuchadnezzar sees the tree growing and becoming greater than it was in Daniel 4:7 [ Daniel 4:10].—And the height thereof reached unto heaven, like the tower of Babel, Genesis 11:4, or the δένδρεα οὐραυομήκεα, Herod2:138. Observe the imperfect יִמְֹטֵא, which here takes the place of the perfect, and indicates the heaven-aspiring tendency of the slowly developing tree.—And the sight thereof to the end of all the earth; rather, “its extent” or circumference. חֲזוֹתֵהּ does not signify “its visibility” (Vulg, Syr, de Wette, and many moderns), but “its outlook, its circumference, its extent” (the Sept. and Theodotion are correct, so far as the sense is concerned: τὸ κῦτος αὐτοῦ, its bulging, extension); the contrast with רוּמֵהּ would itself require this interpretation.

Daniel 4:9 [ Daniel 4:12]. The leaves (branches) thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much. עָפְיֵהּ, properly its branching, its crown, as אנְבֵּהּ is the aggregate of its fruit. Bertholdt, von Lengerke, and others, render incorrectly “and its fruit was large” (i.e., it bore a large, thick kind of fruit); for there was no reason to mention such a quality of the tree. The immediate connection shows that the great quantity of fruit, instead of its size, was here referred to.—And it was meat for all, rather, “and food for all (was found) on it.” לְכֹלָּא, “for all,” i.e., for all who lived under its shelter—an exemplification and more circumstantial exposition of שַׂגִּיא. It Isaiah, however immaterial to the sense of the passage as a whole, whether בֵּחּ be construed with מָזון by neglecting the makkeph between לְכֹלָּא and בֵּהּ, as a majority of expositors, including ourselves, translate, or whether we translate, as Kranichfeld [and Keil], with regard to the makkeph: “and food was found for all on it,” i.e., for all the birds that nestled on it. The masora evidently requires this rendering here, while in Daniel 4:18 [ Daniel 4:21], where the makkeph is wanting from between לְכֹלָּא and בְּהּ, it observes the other construction.—The beasts of the field had shadow under it. תּטְלֵל, umbram egit spent in the shadow. The aphel of טלל (“obumbrare, to overshadow, protect”), which, in the language of the Targums, is generally transitive, like the Heb. הַצְלֵּל, 1 Chronicles 4:3, is here intransitive by virtue of its Niphal signification.—And the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof; Cf. Matthew 13:32, and the parallel passages. The masculine יְדֻרוּן has its explanation in the fact that צִפֲּרִין is of the common gender; the Keri יְדֻרָן construes the word in the feminine, in analogy with יִשְׁכְּנָן, Daniel 4:18 [ Daniel 4:21].—And all flesh was led of it. “All flesh,” i.e., not merely all the birds, but also all the beasts of the field, and, in short, all the animals living on and under the tree, thus imaging all of the human race that were united under the sceptre of Nebuchadnezzar; Cf. Daniel 4:19 [ Daniel 4:22].

Daniel 4:10 [ Daniel 4:13]. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed; a formula designed to prepare for the new and remarkably sudden turn of the hitherto quietly transpiring dream.—A watcher and holy one came down from heaven. וְקַדִּישׁ עיר, obviously a hendiadys for “a holy watcher, a watcher who is holy.” עיר, the pass. part. of עוּר, expergefieri, designates a “watchful one, one who watches” (cf. עַר, Song of Solomon 5:2; Malachi 2:12), in this place more particularly a celestial watcher, an angel who from heaven watches over the fortunes of men. Thus Aquila, Symm, and the Sept.: ἐγρήγορος; also a scholium in the Cod. Alex, on the εἴρ [a transfer of עִיר] of Theodotion (ἐγρήγορος καὶ ἀγρυπῶν); also Polychronius: τὸ ὰγρυπνον καὶ ἄγγελος, and Jerome: “Significat angelos, quod semper vigilent et ad Dei imperium sint parati.” By the addition of the modifying וְקַדִּישׁ the עִיר mentioned in this place is expressly classed with the good or holy watchers of heaven, and thus is distinguished from the κακοδαίμονες, in which light the Babylonians regarded a number of their astral gods (see Gesenius on Isa., II:334 et seq.), and also from the ἐγρήγοροι of the book of Enoch, who are described as bad angels and as inimical to men. The expression “decree (determination, counsel) of the watchers” points strongly to the conclusion that the עִירִין of our book are identical with the θεοὶ βουλαῖοι of the Babylonians in Diodor, 2:30—i.e., with the thirty-six inferior gods associated as counsellors (deos) with the five superior planetary gods; but the entire correspondence of this feature to the Babylonian doctrine of the gods does not exclude the existence, at the same time, of a certain analogy or essential relation of the “watchers” with the Amesha-cpenta of the Parsees, nor even that the supposed etymology of Amesha-cpenta = non connivens sanctus (thus Bopp, who Isaiah, however, contradicted, e.g., by Burnouf) might be asserted in its support. But that עִור וְקַדִּישׁ is “merely a translation of Amshaspand” is an arbitrary dictum of Hitzig, which is opposed by the possibly post-Babylonian age of the name Amesha-cpenta (this does not occur at all in the oldest portion of the Zendavesta), and which lacks all scientific support, to an extent equal to the identification of עִיר with עִיר, “a messenger” ( Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 57:9), as was attempted by several older expositors, e.g., Michaelis (in Castell. Lex. Syr., p649), cf, however, Häver-nick and Kranichfeld on this passage, and also Hengstenberg, Christologie des Alten Testaments, III:2, 74et seq.

[Perhaps Keil rather is correct, who suggests that “the plur. is to be regarded as impersonal: the tree shall be cut down.”]—Shake (strip) off its leaves, literally, “cause them to fall off.” אַתַּרןּ (instead of אַתִּרוּ after the analogy of verbs third gutt.), the aphel of נְתַר, which designates the falling of faded leaves or blossoms from the tree, in the Targums, Psalm 1:3; Isaiah 40:8; Joel 1:10.—Scatter its fruit; contemptuously, as if it were of no value, and as if it were not worth the trouble of gathering. The consequence, that the animals, who were hitherto sheltered by the tree, were now likewise scattered, and driven far asunder—a lively image of subjects alarmed by the fall of their sovereign—is indicated in what follows.

Daniel 4:12 [ Daniel 4:15]. Nevertheless, leave the stump of its roots in the earth. עִקָּר, the still thrifty stump, like מַעֶבֶת, Isaiah 6:13, or גֶּזַע, Isaiah 11:1; Job 14:8. The ultimate sprouting of this root-stump (cf. Job 14:7-9), which was allowed to remain in the earth, typified, as appears from Daniel 4:23 [ Daniel 4:26] compared with Daniel 4:33 [ Daniel 4:36], the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar from his sickness; but not the continued supremacy of his dynasty, as Hävernick interprets, since עִקָּר in this passage obviously designates an individual, Nebuchadnezzar himself, instead of the whole race of Chaldæan rulers.—Even with a band of iron and brass; rather, “but in fetters of iron and brass,” Supply “shall he lie, or be;” or even “shall he be left” (שְׁבֻקוּהִי). The figure of a tree is now dropped; in the stead of a vegetable organism that necessarily clings to the ground there is presented, obviously with regard to the bestializing of Nebuchadnezzar, an animal organism, which, while naturally capable of unimpeded motion and of an individual and independent participation in life, is for the present forcibly restrained. There is thus a partial transition from the figure to the fact (as is frequently the case in the comparisons and allegories of our Lord, e.g., Mark 4:28; Luke 12:46; Matthew 22:13; John 10:11 et seq.), or at least an approximation of the figurative representation to the actual conditions of the event typified. This fact is misunderstood as soon as the attempt is made, with Von Lengerke, to conceive of the fetters of iron as fastened on the root-stump, “in order to prevent it from cracking and splitting,” and also when it is assumed, with Jerome and others, that an actual binding of Nebuchadnezzar as a furiosus, who required to be fettered like all maniacs, is asserted at this early stage. The literal conception of the idea “to fetter” is inappropriate on either method. The “fetters of iron and brass” symbolize the chains of darkness and coarse bestiality in which the mind of the king was held during an extended period. Cf. expressions like “chains of darkness,” Wisdom of Solomon 17:17; 2 Peter 2:4, and figurative descriptions, such as Psalm 107:10; Psalm 116:16; Psalm 149:8; Job 36:8. Kranichfeld observes correctly: “A more forcible binding of his sovereign aims for himself, exceeding the disgrace of that which might be applied to a prisoner of war, could scarcely happen to the king, than was that to which he was compelled to submit according to Daniel 4:22 [ Daniel 4:25] and Daniel 4:29 [ Daniel 4:31], in the form of a beastly restraint on his understanding, and of an actual expulsion from the society in which he moved. And since binding in fetters of iron and brass is a metaphor as common as it is in this instance a striking figure of the deplorable condition to which the Babylonian universal monarch was reduced; since, moreover, the towering height of the tree in the dream is of itself sufficient to establish the selection of an expression to indicate the corresponding contrast of a severe and servile compulsion, the explanation of the figure does not require the combination of this expression proposed by Hitzig with an assonant kedan, Syr, ‘to bind.’ taken from the name of Nebuchadnezzar. This is the more obvious because of the consideration that no reference is made to the name in other portions of the description, although, by a repeated use of the k in nebuk (Nebuch), it might to the Hebrew sound portentously like the Arabic inbaka, “turbata mente fuit.” For the Talmudic animal with an ingrown tree which resembled man in form and language, adne sadeh (Buxt. Lex. Chald., p34), may be explained, as by Hitzig, without any doubt whatever, from the אַדְנֶ of the name Nebuchadnezzar much more readily than that really fabulous creature would have allowed itself to be fabricated, had not the self-authenticated description of Daniel ( Daniel 4:12-13 [ Daniel 4:15-16], in connection with the otherwise familiar אֲדָנֵי, the heliotropum which moves its leaves (see Buxt, l. c.), furnished the material.”—In the tender grass of the field, etc. This lying in the grass and being exposed to the dews of heaven is as applicable to the stump of the tree as to Nebuchadnezzar, the maniac; Cf. Daniel 4:20 [ Daniel 4:23] et seq.—Concerning the reading דִּתְאָא, for which Daniel 4:20 [ Daniel 4:23] substitutes דִּתִאָח (corresponding to the Hebraizing Keris in5:39; 6:1), cf. Hitzig and Kranichfeld on this passage.—And let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Cf. Daniel 4:30 [ Daniel 4:33], “and did eat grass as oxen.” The figure has been departed from entirely in this place, and a feature of the interpretation is anticipated. חֲכִָק, “portion.” occurs also in Daniel 4:20 [ Daniel 4:23] and Ezra 4:16. The Targums have חוּלַּק instead. Concerning the not local, but telic signification of בְּ, “in or of the grass,” cf. e.g., Joshua 22:25; 2 Samuel 20:1.

Daniel 4:13 [ Daniel 4:16]. Let his heart be changed from a man’s; literally, “they shall change from (that of) a man” (מִן־אֲנָשָׁא = מִלֵּב אֱנוֹשׁ, as Ibn Ezra correctly adds). Cf. the similar brevilo-queutiœ in Daniel 1:10; Daniel 7:20, etc, and concerning the active signification of יְשַׁנוֹן (for which the angels addressed in שְׁבֻקוּ serve as an indefinite subject), Cf. supra, on Daniel 3:4. “His heart,” i.e., his faculties of conception and desire, or, if it be preferred, his consciousness; Cf. Daniel 4:29-30 [ Daniel 4:32-33]. The Hebraizing form אֲנוֹשָׁא here and in Daniel 4:14 [ Daniel 4:17] is perhaps to be rejected in favor of the more correct Chaldee אֲנָשָׁא; Cf. Daniel 4:22; Daniel 4:29-30 [ Daniel 4:25; Daniel 4:32-33]; Daniel 5:21; Daniel 7:13, etc. [—And let a beast’s heart be given unto him. “The heart of a man is dehumanized when his soul becomes like that of a beast; for the difference between the heart of a man and that of a beast has its foundation in the difference between the soul of a man and the soul of a beast (Delitzsch, Bibl. Psych., p252).”—Keil.]—And let seven times pass over him, properly, “change over him;” הֲלַף, a select word for “to pass over, expire,” præterire, præterlabi. It may be seriously doubted whether the term עֲלוֹהִי, “over him,” was chosen with a special reference to “the stars succeeding each other in the heavenly heights above the tormented one, which were to indicate the duration of his affliction” (Kranichfeld), although the mystical phrase “seven times” may contain a certain reference to the astrology of the Chaldæans. The seven עִדָּנִין are seven years, as appears from Daniel 7:25, compared with12:7 (thus the Sept, Josephus, Ibn- Ezra, Rashi, etc.),—not seven months (as Saadia Gaon, Dorotheus, Pseudo-Epiphanius, etc, held) or seven half-years (Theodoret). עִדָּן, in itself equivalent to “juncture, emergency,” receives in this place and Daniel 7:25, the sense of מוֹעֵד or זְמַן, “a point of time,” from the context. The duration of the king’s punishment as extending over seven years is explained here, as in Daniel 3:19, by the fact that a judicial retribution is concerned; and the heavy weight of punishment which Jehovah caused to be announced with solemn emphasis to the king was accordingly inflicted, Daniel 4:25; Daniel 4:29 [ Daniel 4:28; Daniel 4:32]. The number seven is. however, not to be pressed literally, to the extent of assuming that the duration of the king’s sickness covered exactly seven times365 days, which would do violence to the always prophetically-ideal pragmatism of the history. Cf. infra, on Daniel 7:25.[FN2]

Daniel 4:14 [ Daniel 4:17]. This matter (message) is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones. The parallelismus membrorum in which the solemn and elevated speech proceeds, shows that the ‎‎‎‎͏͏קַדִּישִׁין are here also, as in Daniel 4:10 [ Daniel 4:13], identical with the קִירִין. The terms פִּתְנָּם and שְׁאֵלָא are likewise synonymous, but do not, as Hitzig holds, signify “matter” (concern) and “circumstance,” but, in harmony with their etymology and the sense of פתגם in Daniel 3:16, must be rendered “word” (message, announcement) and “demand” (command); cf. the Heb. שְׁאֵלָה, “a request, desire,” Judges 8:24; 1 Kings 2:16; Job 6:8; Esther 5:6; Esther 5:8, etc. Entirely too artificial and contradictory of the unquestionable sense of גְּזֵרָא, “a decision, resolution” (and also of מֵאמַר, “a decision”), is the attempt of Kranichfeld to vindicate the signification “a request, petition,” for שְׁאֵלָא, which is based on the idea of a petition such as the watchers, as inferior θεοὶ βουλαῑοι (see on Daniel 4:10 [ Daniel 4:13]), were obliged to address to their superiors, the five planetary gods. But the עִירִין appear nevertheless to be advisory deities, inasmuch as they are only עִירִין, and not אֱלָהִין, and inasmuch as the supreme decision in their college rests, according to Daniel 4:21 [ Daniel 4:24], with the “Most High” (עִלָיָא). Cf. the representation of a great subordinate council of the Deity as composed of angels in 1 Kings 22:19 et seq.; Job 2:1 et seq.; and also, with reference to the specifically Babylonian idea of a decision in the council of the deity, Diodor2:30: οἱ δ̓οὐ̄ν Χαλδαῖοι—φάσιν τὴν τῶν ὅλων τάξιν καὶ διακόσμησιν θεία τινὶ προνοία γεγονέναι, καὶ νῦν ἕκαστα τῶν ἐν οὐρανῶ γινομένων οὐχ ὡς ἔτυχεν οὐδ̓ αὐτομάτως, ἀλλ̓ ὡρισμένη τινὶ καὶ βεβαίως κεκυρωμένη θεῶν κρίσει συντελεῖσθαι; further, the familiar picture near Kazwini, which represents Bel as a judge and surrounded by genii (Gesen, on Isaiah, 2:337). Before מֵאמַר, “a decree,” the instrumental בְּ must be supplied from the preceding. The variation וּבְמֵאמַר, Isaiah, therefore, correctly supplied in the interpretation.—To the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth, etc. עַד־דִּבְרַת דְּי is to be rendered, either “until, to the circumstance, that” = “until that” (donec, Vulg.), or, with Hitzig, in harmony with Daniel 2:30, and with the ἵνα γνῶσιν of Theodotion, עַל־דִּבְרַת דִּי, “to the end that.” The latter may perhaps be preferred, because of the ease of mistaking עַל for עַד, and because of the fact that עַד־דִּבְרַת does not occur elsewhere.[FN3] Daniel 4:22 [ Daniel 4:25], which directly substitutes תִּנְדַּע for the יִנְדְּעוּן of this verse, shows that Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of the earth, is not excluded from the number of the “living” who are to recognize the authority of the Most High, but rather, that he especially is included.—And setteth up (rather, “can set up”) over it the basest of men. שְׁפַל אֲנָשִׁים, “the humblest of men,” is grammatically a. general conception conveying the idea of the superlative, as in 2 Chronicles 21:17, the Heb. קְטן בָּנָיו; Cf. Winer, Chald. Gramm., § 58, 2. The assertion of Hitzig, that by this humblest of men, an Israelite, or even the Israelitish Messiah (בַּר אֱנָשׁ, Daniel 7:13), is designated as successor to the great world-monarch, is without support from the context. The thought of a person of the lowest rank, rather, was naturally suggested to the mind of the dreaming king, because the fall of himself, the most exalted Prayer of Manasseh, was concerned.—For the opinion that the imperfects יִתְּנִנַּהּ and יְקִים in this place express the idea of ability—“is able to confer, can exalt”—cf. Daniel 2:47, where גָּלֵה רָזִין also designates that Being who is able to reveal secrets. [—“The Kethib עליה is shortened from עֲלֵיהָא, and in the Keri is yet further shortened by the rejection of the י; cf. Daniel 5:21; Daniel 7:4 sq, etc.”—Keil.]

Daniel 4:15 [ Daniel 4:18]. Daniel required to interpret the dream. This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. The demonstrative דְּנָה is placed first for emphasis, thus corresponding to the disturbing and exciting subject of the dream. The predicative rendering, “This is the dream, which,” etc, is opposed by the rule that the relative cannot be omitted after the designated noun (Winer, § 41, 4).—Declare the interpretation thereof. פִּשְׁרֵא, is a softened form for פִּשְׁרֵהּ, “its interpretation,” in this place, Daniel 4:16 [ Daniel 4:19], and chap. Daniel 4:8. This view is confirmed by the Peshito, while Theodotion and the Vulgate have פִּשְׁרָא, which reading is still represented among moderns, e.g., by Hitzig.—On the close of the verse, Cf. Daniel 4:6 [ Daniel 4:9].

Daniel 4:16-24 [ Daniel 4:19-27]. The interpretation. Then Daniel.… was astonished for (about) one hour. On the reading אֶשְׁתּוֹמַם instead of אִשְׁת׳, Cf. Winer, § 25, 2. Several MSS. have בְּשִׁעַה instead of כִּשָׁעָח, but this reading conflicts with the usage of the context, and also with the testimony of the ancient translators (Theodot, Vulg, Syr, and probably with the Sept.). Concerning the etymology of שָׁעָה, “hour,” which is certainly to be taken here in the literal sense, Cf. on Daniel 3:6.[FN4] That the astonished gazing of Daniel continued “about an hour,” is mentioned by the author from a motive (viz, in order to indicate the greatness of his astonishment) similar to that from which the book of Job records the sympathetic mourning and silence of the three friends during seven days ( Job 2:13). Hitzig observes correctly: “He meditates on the interpretation, and is astonished when he perceives it, because he wishes well to the king, and probably, also, because Nebuchadnezzar might receive the prophecy ungraciously, and might take vengeance on him (as Ahab did on Micaiah, 1 Kings 22:26-27). His confusion is depicted on his countenance; which causes the king to observe that he has found the interpretation, and to invite him in encouraging terms to impart it freely.” It cannot really be comprehended how it is possible, in the face of so unsought for, and, in itself, probable a historical situation, to establish the hypothesis of a conventional forgery in the Maccabæan age.—[“That Nebuchadnezzar ( Daniel 4:16 [ Daniel 4:19]) in his account speaks in the third person does not justify the conclusion either that another spoke of him, and that thus the document is not genuine (Hitzig), nor yet the conclusion that this verse includes a historical notice introduced as an interpolation into the document; for similar forms of expression are often found in such documents; Cf. Ezra 7:13-15; Esther 8:7-8.”—Keil.]—My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies! i.e., Would that the dream concerned thine enemies, and that its interpretation related to thy foes rather than to thee! Instead of the Kethib מָרְאִי (a regular formation from מָרֵא, Daniel 2:47; Daniel 4:23), the Keri has, here and in Daniel 4:21 [ Daniel 4:24], the shorter form מָרִי, which corresponds to the usage of the later Chaldee. The following עָר, “an enemy,” is likewise peculiar to the pre-targumistic Chaldee.

Daniel 4:17 [ Daniel 4:20]. The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong; rather, “of which thou sawest that it was great and strong.” The second דִּי is subordinated to the first in דִּי הֲזַיְתָ, and is therefore to be rendered as a conjunction, not as a relative pronoun coordinated with the first. The ensuing description of the tree, in Daniel 4:17-18 [ Daniel 4:20-21], and likewise of the Divine sentence of judgment pronounced on it in Daniel 4:20 [ Daniel 4:23], are repeated verbally from Daniel 4:7; Daniel 4:13, 10,16], although with abbreviations and unessential variations.

Daniel 4:19, 22]. It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong, etc.; i.e., “that art become great and strong.” The following וּרְבוּתָךְ רְבָת, etc, is loosely connected with the relative clause דִּי רְבַיְתָּ וְגו׳ The Keri offers the smoother form רְבַת instead of רְבַיְתָ, and in the following, the third pers. fern. מְטַת instead of מִטְאַת = מְטָאת; Cf. also Daniel 4:21, 24].—Concerning the remarkable addition by the Sept. to Daniel 4:19, 22], cf, e.g., Eth-fund. principles, No3 [below].

Daniel 4:21 [ Daniel 4:24]. This is the interpretation (of it), O king;—the conclusion to the lengthy antecedent clause, Daniel 4:20 [ Daniel 4:23].—And this is the decree of the Most High which is come (determined) upon my lord the king. In regard to מְטָא עַל, cf. the Heb. בּוֹא על, Genesis 34:27; Job 2:11. The preterite מְטַת represents the decree as already decided on, and, therefore, as unavoidable, and certain to be executed on the king.

Daniel 4:22 [ Daniel 4:25]. They shall drive thee from men, literally, “and thee shall they drive,” etc. The וְ in וְלָךְ is consecutive: “and thus shall they drive thee.” The impersonal active טָרְדִין is exactly similar to אָמְרִין, Daniel 3:4, and infra, Daniel 4:28 [ Daniel 4:31]. The agents of the punishment, who are not designated, are the inferior angels, as with יְשַׁנּוֹן, Daniel 4:13 [ Daniel 4:16], and as in Daniel 4:28 [ Daniel 4:31].[FN5]

Daniel 4:23 [ Daniel 4:26]. And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; “they” = the heavenly watchers, of whom one only spoke, Daniel 4:10-14 [ Daniel 4:13-17]; but that one was the representative of the entire community of angels.—Thy kingdom shall (again) be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known, etc קַיָּם neither signifies “to continue” (Theodotion, Vulg, Dereser, von Lengerke, etc.), nor “to be preserved” (Bertholdt), but rather, “to arise, stand, be firm,” and here, in view of the context, “to again be firm” (Hitz, Kranichf.). מִן־דִּי in this place is not inferential—“since, because,”—as in Daniel 3:22, but instead relates to time, “as soon as,” and designates a juncture following the period included in עַד דִּי, Daniel 4:21; Daniel 4:29 [ Daniel 4:24; Daniel 4:32]—hence at the close of the seven years.—That the heavens do rule, viz.: over the kingdoms of men, Cf. Daniel 4:14 [ Daniel 4:17] and Daniel 4:22 [ Daniel 4:25]. “The heavens” is here used to designate God, instead of “the Most High.” The expression must be regarded as an abbreviation of the phrase “the God of heaven,” which was employed on former occasions (chap: 2:18, 37, 44), or of “the King of heaven” (4:34), which is synonymous with the former, or also of “the Lord of heaven” ( Daniel 4:23). There is nothing untheocratic and polytheistic in the expression, even though the Chinese designate their god as heaven, and though the same usage prevailed among the ancient Persians (Herod, 1:131), the Greeks (Ζεύς = Sanscr. jâus, “heaven”), and the Romans (Deus; Divus, Jovis, etc.). Even in the New Testament the βασιλεἰα τῶν οὐρανῶν is identical with the βασιλ. τοῦ θεοῦ, and the Talmudists (e.g., Nedarim, ix10; x13, etc.; Buxtorf, Lex. Chald., Colossians 2440), as well as the Jews of a much earlier period (according to Juvenal, Sat., XIV:96 et seq, and Diodorus in Photius, Bibl., XL.), generally designated God directly as “heaven,” indicating thereby that they attributed to Him the sole dominion over the heavenly world, and denied that other gods were associated with Him (cf. Psalm 115:16).

Daniel 4:24, 27]. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee. לָהֵן, “wherefore,” as in Daniel 2:6. In regard to שְׁפַר, Cf. on Daniel 3:32. The term is here construed with עַל, as in that passage and Daniel 6:2, with קֳדָם, by which the persuasiveness of the remarks is increased (cf. מָב with עַל, Ezra 5:17), and by which the desire of Daniel to aid the king, if possible, in averting the impending danger and punishment, becomes more apparent than would be the case if the more courteous phrase שְׁפַר קֳדָמָיךְ had been employed. From this truly theocratic standpoint, the prophet persists in holding it possible to turn aside the punishment threatened in the dream, similar to Isaiah (38:1 et seq.) and Jeremiah (18:7 et seq.) in analogous cases; Cf. Joel 2:12 et seq.; Amos 7:3; Amos 7:6; Jonah 3:5 et seq.; 2 Kings 20:1 et seq.[FN6]And break off thy sins by righteousness; rather, “purchase thy deliverance from thy sins,” etc. The ancient translators justly regard חֲטָיָךְ as plural; Cf. the parallel עֲוַיָּתָךְ. The suffix in חֲטָיָךְ, instead of חֲטָיָיךְ, is defective, similar to that in רַעְיוֹנָךְ, Daniel 5:10. The word is derived from the Stat, emphat. חֲטָרֵא of a singular חַטִי (= Heb. חֵטְא, cf. Olshausen, Lehrb., p283).—פְּרַק, properly “to break” (cf. Sanscr. prak, Lat. frango, Germ, brechen), designates, similar to the Heb. פרק in passages like Psalm 136:24; Sam5:8, etc, a “tearing out” of a matter from its former position or relations, and hence, a “liberating, redeeming, or purchase” (cf. 2 Samuel 7:23; Isaiah 35:9-10, where פרק is used for גאל or פדה, exsolvere, redimere). The Sept. and Theodot. therefore render it correctly by λύτρωσαι, the Vulg. redime, and Syr, Saad, Ibn Ezra, Berth, de Wette, Hitzig, etc, in a similar manner. On the other hand, Rashi, Geier, Starke, Dereser, Hävernick, von Len-gerke, Kranichfeld, etc, prefer the idea of casting off, casting away, as it is found in Genesis 37:40, and accordingly interpret: “lay off thy sins” (Häv.), or “break off thy sins, give them up” (Kranichfeld). But in the usage of the Chaldee language, and especially in that of the Targums, פרק constantly and undeniably bears the sense of redeeming by purchase (e.g., a birthright, a field, the daughter of Jephthah, Judges 11:35); and the rather broad conception, admitting, as it does, of an application to many and diverse relations, by no means requires that the object to be redeemed should be desirable to the purchaser, and possess value for him. Rather, the remark of von Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, i519,) is correct: “The sins are not under restraint, but, instead, they enslave. The idea of Daniel, therefore, is that the king should deliver himself from the sins that involve him in guilt and slavery, by practising righteousness and mercy for the future, instead of persisting in the arbitrary and tyrannical course to which he had hitherto been addicted.”[FN7] Cf. Melancthon also, in the Apology (Art. III, p112), where the “redime” of the Vulgate is retained, but the supposed interpretation is decidedly rejected, as favoring the doctrines of work-righteousness insisted on by the Jewish and Roman Catholic exegesis (see Eth-fund. principles, etc, No2 [below]). This interpretation, however, does not result from any possible rendering of the imper. פְּרַק, but from the incorrect explanation of צִדְקָח by “doing good, alms,” which is found in numerous expositors, from Jerome to Hitzig; and the latter rendering is not justified, either by Psalm 37:21, nor by a comparison with extravagant laudations of works of mercy in Sirach 3:28; Sirach 29:12; Tobit 4:10; Tobit 12:9, etc. The only interpretation of צִדְקָה allowed by the context and general usage is “righteous deportment” to be observed by the king toward his subjects, in contrast with his former tyranny and arbitrary domination. In the parallel member, “mercy toward the poor” is intimately connected with this, as being the second leading virtue in rulers, which virtue the king is exhorted to cultivate (cf. Hofm, as above). The historical situation, rather than the usage, indicates that, in connection herewith, the עֲנִיִּין are to be sought for principally in the number of the poor Israelites, the theocratically wretched (עֲנִיִּים), who were languishing in exile and captivity. The usage would admit of a different rendering of the עֲנִיִּין.[FN8]If it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility; rather, “if thy prosperity shall be durable.” This is the external motive addressed to the king, to induce him to heed the warning of the theocratic seer. The conditional language is very decided; הֵן, “if,” is no more to be taken in the dubious sense of εἰ ἄρα ( Acts 8:22) in this passage than in Daniel 3:17.—אַרְכָּא is not “forbearance, forgiveness,” but “duration, continuance;” Cf. Jeremiah 15:15; Ecclesiastes 8:12.

Daniel 4:25-30 [ Daniel 4:28-33]. The fulfilment. All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. Hävernick regards these words as still belonging to the royal proclamation, while all that follows, to Daniel 4:30 [ Daniel 4:33], is a parenthesis inserted by the prophet (see supra, on Daniel 3:31). But this hypothesis renders it impossible to observe unity of the report, which must obviously be preserved, since the theocratic coloring apparent in these verses may elsewhere be frequently noticed (supra), and since a detailed statement of the infliction of the threatened punishment is required in order to give point to the report. This does not make it inconceivable that Daniel, the writer of the report as a whole, should in this connection relegate the royal subject, who had hitherto been spoken of in the first person, to the background, and that he should describe the Divine judgment executed on the king from his own theocratic point of view.[FN9]

Daniel 4:26 [ Daniel 4:29]. At the end of twelve months he walked upon (marg.) the palace of the kingdom of Babylon; rather, “the royal palace at Babylon.” In relation to the time indicated, “at the end of twelve months,” Kranichfeld observes: “When the important incident of the dream was a year old, and on that account its recollection naturally exercised the imagination of the king with special force, he gave himself up, despite the Divine warning, to the proudest exaltation of self, which indicated that he was neither controlled by religious piety in general, nor by reverence for the God of the Jews in particular,” etc. It appears to us that this is seeking too much in that designation of time. It is simply a historical circumstance that exactly twelve months elapsed between the dream and its fulfilment, and at the same time an illustration of the simple accuracy and concrete truth of the narrative.[FN10] —“Upon the royal palace,” i.e., upon its flat roof; Cf. 2 Samuel 11:2. The proud king, who has employed the respite of twelve months in nursing his tyrannical superciliousness, instead of improving it by repenting and working righteousness, wishes, by actual observation from this elevated spot, to assure himself of the condition of his royal power, and to feast himself with looking on the gigantic metropolis of the world which he had created. His thoughts are similar to those of another, in Schiller’s Glocke (the Bell):

“The splendor of the house

Stands firm as earth’s foundations

Against the power of evil,” etc.

The “walking along” (מְהַלֵּךְ הֲוָא; cf. מְהַלְכִין בְּגֵוָה, Daniel 4:34 [ Daniel 4:37]) likewise indicates his conceited arrogance and pride; cf. the Germ. “einherstol ziren” (strutting along).—The mention of the location, “at Babylon,” does not at all compel the assumption of a Palestinian origin of the book, or of any particular part of it, as even Hitzig acknowledges. It merely indicates that the author was not a constant resident in the city of Babylon, and that his narrative was composed for readers who were chiefly, or without exception, strangers in Babylon (however long they might have been detained in that city against their will). These features are suited to the view that Daniel was the writer of the document before us, as thoroughly as they militate against the idea that Nebuchadnezzar was its immediate author; Cf. supra, on Daniel 3:31.[FN11]

Daniel 4:27 [ Daniel 4:30]. Is not this (the) great Babylon that I have built, etc. “The great” (רַבְּתָא) was evidently a standing title of Babylon, with its circumference of480 stadia (Herod1:191), its colossal walls, its25 gates on either side of the immense square, its676 districts filled with houses of several stories each, its hanging gardens on the Euphrates, its gigantic temples and palaces, etc. Cf. Herod, 1. c.; Diodor. ii5 et seq.; Aristotle’s Polit., 3:2; Philostratus, i18; Curtius, 6:1 et seq.; also Starke’s Synopsis on this passage; Wattenbach, Nineve und Babylon (Heidelberg, 1868); and Alfred Maury, Nineve et Babylone, in the Revue des deux Mondes, 1868, March15, p470 ss.; [also Rawlinson’s Five Ancient Monarchies, I:510 et seq.]. For this reason many other authors apply the predicate μεγάλη to that city; e.g., the Apocalyptist John, Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19 (cf. also Isaiah 13:19; Isaiah 14:4; Isaiah 47:3-4); and Strabo (50:16.), who applies to it the stanza: ἔρημία μεγάλη εστὶν μεγάλη πόλις, Cf. Pausanius, Arcad., p509, who describes Babylon as a city ἤντινα εἰ̄δε πόλεω τῶν τότε μεγίστην ἥλιος. Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon might certainly be designated as “the great city” with as much propriety as formerly Nineveh (cf. Genesis 10:11-12; Jonah 1:2; Jonah 3:2; Jonah 4:11), and far more justly than, e.g., Hamath (see Amos 6:2; חֲמַת רַבָּח), or Diospolis (Διόσπολις μεγάην, Inscr4717), or Ephesus, Smyrna, Peragmos, Nicomedia, and other cities of a later period in Asia Minor (cf. Rheinwald, Komment. zum Br. an die Philipper, p 3 et seq.).—That I have built for the house (or seat) of the kingdom. The A. V. is literal. The expression is equivalent, in modern idiom, to “the royal capital and seat of government.” The מַלְכוּ of the whole empire was to have its seat, its residence, in that metropolis (Kranichf.). Cf. the reference to Bethel as a מַמְלָכָה, in Amos 7:13. “That I have built;” i.e., that I have developed and completed. On בְּנָא, otherwise בָּנָה, in this signification, Cf. 2 Kings 14:22; 2 Chronicles 11:5-6; and see the Chaldæan historians Berosus, Abydenus, and Megasthenes, in Josephus. Ant, x11, 1; c: Apion, 1:19; and in Eusebius, Chron., 1:59, with reference to the numerous edifices erected in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar; also Bochart, Phaleg, p 263 et seq, where Nebuchadnezzar’s services in beautifying the city and increasing its architectural greatness are compared with those of Augustus in Rome, which justified his well-known remark, “se marmoream relinquere, quam lateritiam accepisset” (Suetonius, Aug., c29).[FN12]For the honor of my majesty; לִיקַר הַדְרִי; Cf. the similar constructions in Deuteronomy 5:33; Deuteronomy 5:17; Zechariah 11:13; and with reference to the preceding expression, “by the might of my power,” Cf. passages like Isaiah 40:26; Ephesians 1:19; Colossians 1:11, etc.

Daniel 4:28 [ Daniel 4:31]. While the word was in the king’s mouth. The Divine punishment follows closely after the vain and presumptuous exclamation (cf. Isaiah 28:4); exactly as in the poem by Schiller quoted above, where it is added:

“For no eternal bond can be

With the fates that rule our destiny,

And misfortune’s pace is swift.”—

There fell a voice from heaven. Observe the agreement between the prophetic description in the dream, Daniel 4:10 [ Daniel 4:13] and Daniel 4:11 [ Daniel 4:14], and the fulfilment twelve months later. The words נָהִת מִן שְׁמַיָּא, which are employed in the former passage, are here echoed by נְעַל (cf. Isaiah 9:7), which still more strongly emphasizes the suddenness with which the judicial sentence is promulgated; and עָרֵא בְהַיִל in that place is here repeated by the characteristic קָל, which recalls the analogies in Deuteronomy 4:33; Deuteronomy 4:36; Matthew 3:17; John 12:28; Acts 9:4; Acts 5:13, etc. The record, although sufficiently circumstantial, is but a summary, and affords no trustworthy indications to show whether this φωνὴ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ was produced by the mediation of psychological or of physical causes. The leading fact to be observed is merely that the powerfully excited king was compelled to recollect the warning formerly conveyed in the dream, by what he now heard, whether by a purely subjective mode of perception, or whether objective agencies were at the same time employed.—O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. The perf. עַדָת is employed, because he who was degraded to the level of the brute by the most fearful of mental maladies, was at once and directly incapacitated for his position and office as ruler as a matter of course. In regard to אָמְרִין, “they say,” see on Daniel 4:22 [ Daniel 4:25]; concerning Daniel 4:29 [ Daniel 4:32] see ibid, and on Daniel 4:14 [ Daniel 4:17].

Daniel 4:30 [ Daniel 4:33] The same hour (hence immediately; cf. on Daniel 3:6) was the thing (or word) fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar. סָפַת, literally, “came to end;” for the end of a prophecy is its coming to pass, by which it ceases to be prophecy (Hitzig); cf. כלה, Daniel 12:7; Ezra 1:1. etc.—Concerning the lycanthropy of Nebuchadnezzar, see Introd, § 8, note1, and the literature there adduced.—Till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws; literally, “like eagles—like birds” (כְּצִפֲּרִין—כְּנִשְׁרִין), a comparatio compendiaria, with which the Stat, const, after the particle of comparison has been omitted, as with מִן in Daniel 4:13 [ Daniel 4:16], and as in Isaiah 9:3; Joshua 5:36, and also in the classics (e.g., Il., 17, 51; Juvenal, Sat. 4, 71, etc.).

Daniel 4:31-34 [ Daniel 4:34-37]. The restoration of Nebuchadnezzar, and his ascription of praise to God. And (rather “but”) at the end of the days, i.e., of the period of seven years, Daniel 4:13; Daniel 4:22; Daniel 4:29 [ Daniel 4:16; Daniel 4:25; Daniel 4:32].—I.… lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, namely, as seeking help from thence, as supplicating the God of heaven (see on Daniel 4:23 [ Daniel 4:26]; cf. Psalm 123:1 et seq.; Psalm 25:5, etc.[FN13]And mine understanding returned unto me; or, taking the ו as illative, “so that mine understanding returned.” The prayer of the hitherto maniac king was thus shown to be anything rather than a “flagrant inconsequence,” as Von Lengerke. Hitzig, and others characterize it. On the contrary, it produced the beneficial effect of delivering the penitent king from his disease, and of restoring him to the society and the mode of life of civilized people. Cf. Pusey and Kranichfeld on this passage, in relation to the inclination to prayer, or to other religious manifestations and observances, which has frequently been observed in the case of maniacs afflicted with lycanthropy. In the case before us, where the period of insanity and punishment imposed by God had, at any rate, expired, the prayerful looking up to heaven by the humbled king could not possibly result in less than the elevation of the sufferer from his brutal condition to manhood—from the state of one lying helplessly on the ground, and looking earthward in his debasement, to the dignity and bearing of Prayer of Manasseh, who is formed in the image of God, that is to say, to the normal form of Prayer of Manasseh, of which Ovid sings (Metam., i85 ss.):

Pronaque cum spectent animalia cœtera terram,

Os homini sublime dedit, cœlumque videre

Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus.”—

And I praised and honored him that liveth forever. Cf6:27; 12:7; and also, in relation to the latter half of the verse, [“The first thought he entertained was to thank God, to praise him as the ever-living One, and to recognize the eternity of His sway. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges and praises God as the ‘ever-living One,’ because He had again given to him his life, which had been lost in his mad-ness.”—Keil.]

Daniel 4:32 [ Daniel 4:35]. And all the inhabitants of the earth are (to be) reputed as nothing, that Isaiah, “in comparison to Him.” The partic. חֲשִׁיבִין must be regarded in this place as the part. fut. pass, and is not, therefore, to be explained (in analogy with Isaiah 40:17) by, “are reputed as nothing by Him” (Hävern, Kranichf, etc.). [“The eternity of the supremacy of God includes His omnipotence as opposed to the weakness of the inhabitants of earth” (Keil).] כְּלָה instead of כְּלָא may be regarded as the error of a copyist, who thought to correct a supposed כֻּלָּא (that is אַרְעָא)by substituting כֻּלָּה. Or “לָה for לָא, is an archaism, conforming to the pregnant character of the negation, similar to לֹח for לֹא, Deuteronomy 3:11” (Kranichf.). [The final ח seems to be a mere Chaldaic interchange for א in the ordinary כְּלָא, as not.] The rabbinical assertion, found in Rashi and Saadia, that לָח signifies “an atom of solar dust,” is at all events to be rejected.—And he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, etc. Cf. Isaiah 24:21, a passage that evidently lies at the foundation of the one before us, in which “the host on high” presents the same idea as is contained in “the army of heaven” in this place. Both refer to the innumerable companies of angels who inhabit heaven ( Genesis 32:2 et seq.; Hebrews 12:22 et seq.; cf. Daniel 7:10).—And none can.… say unto him, what doest thou? Cf. Isaiah 43:13; and in relation to the phrase, “to stay one’s hand= to oppose him,” see the Targ. on Ecclesiastes 8:4; Tr. Sanhedr., 100:2; also the Arabic of Hariri, p444.[FN14]

Daniel 4:33 [ Daniel 4:36]. And the glory of my kingdom, mine honor, and my brightness returned unto me. The ל before יְקַר serves to introduce that word as a new subject, after the former, מַנְדְּעִי (cf. Isaiah 32:1; Isaiah 38:16; Psalm 89:19). יְקַר “station, majesty, dignity,” such as is manifested in the look, bearing, and manners of a princely personage. הֲדַר, “splendor,” A. V. “honor” (cf. Daniel 4:27 [ Daniel 4:30]; chap. Daniel 4:18), is here contrasted with his former appearance and condition, which denied his royal state, and even his nature as a Prayer of Manasseh, Daniel 4:30 [ Daniel 4:33]. זִיו is properly “brightness,” and here refers to the beauty or beaming freshness of the human countenance (cf. chap. Daniel 4:6; Daniel 4:9; Daniel 7:28), while הדר refers more particularly to the splendor of his robes (cf. Psalm 110:3; Psalm 29:2; Psalm 96:9; 2 Chronicles 20:21).—And my counsellors and my lords sought unto me,—they, who had formerly avoided and deserted me! That בְּעָא signifies a search for one who is believed to have disappeared without leaving a trace by which to discover him, is an assumption made by Hitzig and also by a number of earlier expositors, such as Geier, Michaelis, Bertholdt, etc, which, however, is without any support whatever. The expression rather designates “a search conducing to the honor of the king, which was instituted by his former counsellors and magnates in their capacity as the council of the regency during the interim, for the purpose of officially requesting the king on his restoration to health, to resume the control of the government.” The terms הדברין (see on3:24) and רברבנין do not, however, designate different subjects, but the same ones with reference to their several powers and dignities; cf. שַׂר וְגָדוֹל, 2 Samuel 3:28; μέγας καὶ δυνάστης, Job 9:22.—And I was (again) established in my kingdom. חָתְקְנֵת instead of חָתְקְנֵת, because of the following accent, distinct.And excellent majesty was added unto me; “I received still greater power” than I had formerly enjoyed; cf. Job 42:10. There are no historical authorities to show in what the additional power consisted which came to Nebuchadnezzar toward the end of his life; but the truth of this statement cannot on that account be questioned.

Daniel 4:34 [ Daniel 4:37]. Now (or therefore) I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, and extol, and honor, etc. By this doxology the close of the royal proclamation returns to the thought of the introduction, Daniel 3:32 et seq.—All whose (rather, “for all His”) works are truth, and his ways judgment. קְשׁוֹט, literally “firmness, immutability,” and hence, “faithfulness, truth” (=Heb. אֶמֶת). דִּין, literally “judgment,” procedure strictly conformed to justice (=Heb. מִשְׁפָּט): Cf. Jeremiah 9:23; Jeremiah 22:13.—And those that walk in pride, he is able to abase. cf. Isaiah 10:33; Isaiah 13:11; Isaiah 25:11; 1 Samuel 22:7; Psalm 18:28; Luke 1:51 et seq.—In relation to the enlargement of this doxology of Nebuchadnezzar which is found in the Sept. in this place, see the Eth-fund. principles, etc, No3 [below].

Ethico Fundamental Principles Related To The History Of Salvation, Apologetical Remarks, And Homiletical Suggestions

According to the remarks on Daniel 3:31 [ Daniel 4:1], the authorship of this section is divided between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel, with the distinction that the former is conceived as the moral originator and ordainer of the edict, while the latter is its writer. But, at the same time, both the heathen king and the theocratic prophet are so exclusively the active (or suffering) characters of the narrative, that every observation of dogmatic or apologetical importance must be derived from the conduct of one or the other of these two persons. We therefore direct our attention

1. To Nebuchadnezzar,—with reference to whose seizure by lycanthropic mania, as being credible on general grounds, and also as being attested by extra-biblical authorities, the necessary explanation has been given in the Introd. (§ 8, note1). We now direct attention to the act of profound self-abasement which the king performed by publishing, of his own impulse, a report respecting his protracted disease of several years’ duration, and also respecting its causes and his final cure. This involves no improbability on psychological, political, or religious grounds. (1) From a psychological point of view, the report became necessary, because a spirit of repentance and of sincere self-abasement had really come over the proud monarch, and because he had been led to recognize with all emphasis that the humiliation, as wearisome as it was deeply painful to his consciousness, was a righteous punishment inflicted on him by the only true God, even though a genuine, durable, and fruit-bearing conversion might not have been accomplished in his case. On the nature of this sincere and profoundly realized humiliation of the king, which, however, was inadequate to secure his admission to a gracious state, or to formal membership in the congregation of God’s people under the Old Covenant, cf. Calvin on Daniel 4:34 : “Hic est modus omnis humiliationis; sed careret profectu illa humiliatio, nisi Dominus postea regeret nos spiritu mansuetudinis. Et ita Nebucadnezar hic non complectitur gratiam Dei, quœ tamen digna erat non vulgari elogio et prœdicatione; sed non descripsit etiam in hoc edicto quicquid posset requiri ab homine pio et qui edoctus fuerit diu in schola Dei, sed tamen ostendit se multum profecisse sub Dei ferulis, quum tribuit illi summam potentiam (c. iii32, 33; c. iv 31 ss.), deinde conjungit justitiœ laudem et rectitudinis (c. iv34) et sese interea fatetur reum et testatur justam fuisse pœ Nahum, quœ divinitus irrogata fuit.”—(2) In a political aspect, also, the edict became necessary, since, as appears from Daniel 4:33, circumstances required that at the end of the king’s illness a proclamation should be issued, certifying that the monarch in person was about to resume the government, and to supersede the regency of the interim, composed of his “counsellors and lords,” who had hitherto administered the affairs of the state. The king had no need to dread the effect of such an explanation on his people, even though it involved much that was humiliating to him; but it is by no means recorded that he caused it to be promulgated in the public places and on the streets by the lips of a herald (as was the case with the edict in Daniel 3:4 et seq.), nor even that it was at any time brought into public notice in writing. (3) Finally, the document involves no considerable difficulty in a religious point of view, inasmuch as the partly heathen and partly Israelitish faith of the Babylonian king, in other words, that syncretism which amalgamated all religions, and which so frequently appears in the history of the rulers of the period of the captivity, is clearly manifested, as has already been shown on Daniel 3:31 [ Daniel 4:1]. Accordingly, even Hitzig finds it to be entirely credible that Nebuchadnezzar as a newly or only partially converted person should “acknowledge a god as his god ( Daniel 4:5), and even other holy gods ( Daniel 4:6; Daniel 4:15), in addition to the Highest God.” The statement by the same critic that it is strange that “after this stern experience Nebuchadnezzar should not have liberated the Jews, the captive servants of the Highest God, as the history shows he did not,” is without any foundation; for, according to Daniel 4:1 compared with Daniel 4:27; Daniel 4:31, the event did not transpire until near the close of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, and we cannot tell what he would have done had he lived any considerable time after his recovery (which was certainly not the case, according to Berosus, in Josephus, c. Apion, I, 20), nor yet what political relations, combinations, or considerations may have prevented the immediate execution of a plan to restore the Jews to their country, which may already have been prepared.

2. So far as the conduct of Daniel is concerned, the characteristic feature of the two-fold position which he occupied at the Chaldæan court as a prophet of Jehovah and chief of the Magians, is prominently exhibited in a manner that affords a highly favorable testimony for the credibility of the narrative as a whole. The Jewish wise Prayer of Manasseh, who is dignified by an honorary office rather than burdened with definite official functions, e.g., with sacerdotal duties, is permitted to be absent at first, on the occasion when the interpreters of dreams or Magians were summoned before the king, because he was allowed a greater freedom of action in general (see on Daniel 4:6). It was not, probably, without producing a feeling of profound injury that when he finally appeared the king addressed the servant of the living God ( Daniel 4:5-6) in a thoroughly heathen manner as “Belteshazzar,” after the name of his god (i.e., the idol Bel), according to Calvin’s just remark, “Non dubium Esther, qulin hoc nomen graviter vulneraverit animum prophetœ.” He did not, however, renounce his allegiance and devotion to the royal personage who was his benefactor, and who, in case he would receive and be guided by the prophet’s counsel, might so easily become the benefactor and liberator of, the entire people of God. When the king had related to him the dream, so prophetic of misfortune, he gave way to trouble and sympathetic sorrow “about an hour” ( Daniel 4:16), and the words by which he at length introduced the interpretation, invoked a blessing on the king coupled with the wish that the fate which threatened the monarch might rather overtake his foes. Cf. Calvin again: “Daniel exponit ( Daniel 4:16), cur ita fuerit attonitus, nempe quia cuperet averti tam horribilem pœnam a regis persona. Etsi enim merito eum potuit detestari, tamen reveritus est potestatem divinitus ei traditam. Discamus igitur exemplo prophetœ, bene precari pro inimicis nostris, qui cupiunt nos perdere, maxime vero precari pro tyrannis, si Deo placeat subjici nos eorum libidini;—alioquin non tantum illis, sed etiam Deo ipsi sumus rebelles. cæterum altera ex parte ostendit Daniel, se non frangi ullo misericordiœ affectu, neque etiam molliri, quo minus pergat in sua vocatione.”—The manner in which Daniel succeeded in uniting the strictest theocratic fidelity towards God with this devotion to his sovereign, is seen partly in the unconcealed directness and the categorical plainness with which he announced the most degrading and humiliating punishment to the king, in Daniel 4:22 [ Daniel 4:25], and partly in the warning or epilogue, Daniel 4:24 [ Daniel 4:27], with which he concluded his interpretation. In this epilogue the fundamental dogmatic and ethical ideas of the entire section concentrate and crowd together in pregnant significance. The exposition of this passage has shown that the course which Daniel here recommends, with a noble frankness and an impressive fervor, is none other than that which should be followed by every pious ruler who is faithful in his office, and in brief, that it comprehends the sum of princely virtues. Hence, those expositors who find that this passage recommends and prescribes work righteous conduct, and especially the giving of alms, as in itself meritorious, do violence to the words. Such expositors are the Rabbins, who generally ascribe an almost magical virtue to alms-giving, and who press every possible passage of Scripture to support their view, especially those containing the term צְדָקָח, which is by them rendered “well doing, alms-giving” (cf. Buxtorf, Lex. p1,891et sq.); further, the Roman Catholic exegetes, who are accustomed, since Bellarmine’s detailed exposition of this passage (l. II. pœnitentia, c6; cf50:4100:6), to employ it as one of the principal proof-texts for their anti-evangelical theory of justification and sanctification (in connection with which they declare, of course, that the rendering of the Vulgate: “peccata tua eleemosynis redime”, is the only correct translation); finally, nearly all the rational istic expositors, from Griesinger and Bertholdt down to Gesenius, de Wette, and Hitzig, who, while defending the translation by Jerome above referred to, and while referring to apocryphal passages like Sirach 3:28; Sirach 29:12; Tobit 4:7 et seq.; 12:9 et seq.; 14:10 et seq, endeavor to find here a work-righteous “morality of the later Judaism,” and therefore a certain indication of the composition of the book subsequent to the exile. Grotius already pointed out that even on the adoption of the faulty Vulgate exegesis, which makes צדקח equivalent to eleemosynæ, the passage does not necessarily yield a sense favorable to Pelagianism: “Neque offendere quemquam potest, quod operibus pœnitentiœ, in quibus excellunt eleemosynœ, tribuatur id, quod pœnitentiœ proprie conuenit; est enim talis metonymia aut synecdoche frequens.” Still better Melancthon, in the Apolog. Conf. Aug. art. iii. p112 R: “Non volebat Daniel regem tantum eleemosynam largiri, sed totam pœnitentiam complectitur, quum ait: Redime peccata tua eleemosynis,’ i. e.: redime peccata tua mutatione cordis et operum. Hic autem et fides requiritur.… . Ac verba Danielis in sua lingua clarius de tota pœnitentia loquuntur et clarius promissionem efferunt: ‘Peccata tua per justitiam redime, et iniquitates tuas beneficiis erga pauperes.’ Hœc verba prœcipiunt de tota pœnitentia; jubent enim, ut Justus fiat, deinde ut bene operetur, ut, quod regis officium erat, miseros adversus injuriam defendat. Justitia autem est fides in corde,” etc. He expresses himself similarly in his comment on the passage (Opp. ed. Bretschneider, vol. xiii. p 843 ss.), where he pays no attention to the false rendering of צדקח in the Vulgate; as does also Calvin in his commentary and the Inst. rel. Chr., III:4, 31, 36, and among the later Protestant expositors especially Carpzov, De eleemosynis Judœorum (in his Apparat. historicus in the Critica Sacra, p726 ss.). In all the conduct of Daniel, therefore, as described in this section, nothing can be discovered which is at variance with the proper deportment of a witness to the faith and a highly enlightened seer of the Old Covenant in the presence of a heathen ruler of the world. To this deportment in practical life corresponds also the tone observed by him in the composition, under the king’s direction, of the document before us, whose agreement with the theocratic modes of thought and conception has already been pointed out.

3. In an apologetic respect the disharmony must be noticed, which exists between what might have been expected from the art of a pseudological tendency-writer of Asmonæan times, and the conditions of place and time as indicated in our narrative. A careful and unbiased examination of the document with reference to the conditions of the Maccabæan period, reveals at once how empty and arbitrary is everything that has been said by Bertholdt, Bleek, Von Lengerke, Hitzig, and others, respecting the parenetic aim, calculated for the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, with which they allege it was written. “The sinner Nebuchadnezzar, who was punished for his pride and folly, was a type of the presumptuous Επιμανής, who in like manner sought improper associates, denied the kingly character, and had but recently issued a circular letter, although of an entirely different character.” This brief extract from Hitzig (p58) contains a whole brood of tendency-critical assumptions and captious perversions of the actual historical facts, based on the erection of false parallels. It is impossible to understand why precisely Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldæan king whose presumption was punished with lycanthropy, should be selected as a type of the proud Seleucidian Ἐπιμανής (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:21; 1 Maccabees 1:24), when, e.g., Sennacherib ( 2 Kings 18:19), Saul ( 1 Samuel 16:14; 1 Samuel 18:10 et seq.), or Pharaoh ( Exodus 14), would have furnished a far more suitable parallel to the tyrant of the Maccabæan period, who was to be punished for presumptuous fury against God, and since, moreover, there is no lack, upon the whole, of historical examples to illustrate the proverb, “A haughty spirit goeth before a fall” ( Proverbs 16:18). The fact recorded by Polybius26:10 (to which passage Hitzig explicitly refers), that Antiochus Epiphanes was a lover of improper, i.e., immoral, coarse, and riotous gatherings, certainly finds but a clumsy illustration and an exceedingly vague foreshadowing in Nebuchadnezzar’s association with the beasts of the field. The analogy is merely superficial, and that to a degree in which it dissolves into incongruity and even absurdity, whenever it is submitted to a careful examination (cf. Kranichf. p 174 et seq.). With reference to the third parallel, that both tyrants issued circular letters, Hitzig himself concedes that the circular mentioned in 1 Maccabees 1:41 et seq. was “really of a nature entirely different” from that of Nebuchadnezzar’s edict. The mere fact, therefore, that Nebuchadnezzar addressed a circular to his subjects, convinces him that it was typical of the other fact, that Epiphanes also issued such a document—as if any king whatever could reign but a single year, without publishing some manifesto, or edict, or circular, etc.! Hitzig’s treatment of Daniel 4:28 [ Daniel 4:31], (the sentence of Divine punishment denounced on Nebuchadnezzar, “The kingdom is departed from thee”), by which he endeavors to demonstrate the special time in the Maccabæan epoch during which this section originated, results in similar absurdities. He holds that the threat of an immediate overthrow, or rather of a ruin already in progress, clearly indicates that the document was composed at a time when the Asmonæans had already taken up arms and had gained the upper hand,” hence in the period designated in 1 Maccabees 2:42-48; as if any real analogy existed between the punishment of a presumptuous spirit by means of a severe mental disease, and the political and religious revolt of an oppressed nation against their persecutors! and further, as if the syncretistic Chaldæan king, who admitted all religions, could by any means be placed in comparison with Antiochus, the fanatically intolerant worshipper of Zeus! How can Nebuchadnezzar, who was exhorted to mercy toward the “poor” (עֲנָיִּן, Daniel 4:24 [ Daniel 4:27], be brought into parallelism with the Syrian king, who was engaged in an open conflict with the representatives of the Theocracy (i.e., with the armed bands of Israelitish heroes inflamed with rage, who, moreover, could at that time hardly be termed the poor)?—the world-monarch of the captivity, who was punished indeed, but whose punishment led him to repent and be converted, with the incorrigibly hardened and diabolized antichrist upon the throne of the Seleucidæ, who for that very reason was regarded as hopelessly lost, and as the certain prey of eternal damnation, from a theocratic point of view? And in relation to the conduct of Daniel—where, in the theocratic state, and especially among the apocalyptists of the Maccabæan period who were enthusiasts for God, could a parallel to the prophet of this chapter be found? What servant of Jehovah in that age can be mentioned, who, like our prophet, and in analogy with the course of the Syrian captain Naaman ( 2 Kings 5:18), would quietly sojourn at the court and in the immediate presence of a heathen ruler; who would have counselled the king in friendship, warned him in loving earnestness, supported and comforted him, as Daniel actually did in his intercourse with the Chaldæan monarch, according to the statements of our section? Certain passages of the Talmud, (Hilchot Rozeach, 12:15; Baba Bathra, f4, p1) may serve to indicate the kind of description which the Maccabæan age would probably have given of the ancient Daniel. It is there asserted that God afterwards punished that prophet, because he had wasted good advice and instruction on the heathen Nebuchadnezzar, such as are found in Daniel 4:24! In addition, cf. the doxology appended by the Sept. to Daniel 4:34, for an illustration of the manner in which that age would have described a Nebuchadnezzar who should actually repent and turn to God. In that passage the restored king is represented as renouncing forever the heathen gods as being utterly powerless, as promising to dedicate himself and his people to the constant service of Jehovah, and as honoring and exulting the Jewish people with excessive praise!—Upon the whole cf. Kranichfeld, p170 et seq. and p203. See also Ibid, p175: “The situation, however, becomes no more conceivable, if, for the purpose of demonstrating the invention of this section as a sketch’ copied from the circumstances of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, its composition be placed prior to the armed revolt mentioned in 1 Maccabees 2:42 et seq. and consequently in a time when Antiochus raged in unresisted power against the helpless Jews. In this case it must be allowed indeed, that the writer possessed considerable prophetic gifts, so that even Hitzig ascribes prophecy to him in relation to the final fate of Epiphanes, without characterizing it as prophecy ex eventu. The definite and unconditional prediction concerning the loss of the kingdom by means of force, Daniel 4:28 et seq, would thus be fully realized; and likewise that foretelling of a peculiar disease by which he should be brought to a humble recognition of the God of the Jews, even though it were not a disease of the mind (cf. 2 Maccabees 9:5 et seq.). The total desertion to which he was actually exposed during the progress of his disease (cf. 2 Maccabees 9:9) ἐπἰξένης ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν (ibid. Daniel 4:28) would have reflected honor on the prophetic threat of the alleged forger (cf. Daniel 4:22; Daniel 4:29 et seq.). But besides mistaking the nature of the disease, he has unfortunately erred with reference to the recovery, and on that very account he is compelled, according to Hitzig, to renounce the honor of composing a prophecy after the event had transpired, and that without compensation for the otherwise really wonderful prediction of the three circumstances mentioned above, whose combined fulfillment of itself assuredly deserves the distinguishing attribute of pseudo-prophecy. But there still remains the oracle of Daniel 4:23 [ Daniel 4:26], an expression on the part of a Jew regarded as a model of the patriot who is jealous because the law of his God is trodden under foot, and which is ambiguous when compared with the circumstances of the period of persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, and therefore inconceivable in a historical point of view, since that period preceded the armed rising. Moreover, it must seem strange at the least, that the writer should content himself at the time of Epiphanes with assigning such very ordinary limits to the sinfulness and presumptuous pride of Nebuchadnezzar, while the violence done to the sanctuary of Israel is not mentioned with a single word, for instance, in Daniel 4:24 [ Daniel 4:27]; and yet it was this very act which ranked chief in importance in the eyes of Antiochus himself (cf1. Macc21–24, 36 et seq, 44et seq.; Daniel 4:1 et seq.), and which was regarded as the most heinous crime of that tyrant, and as the principal ground for the lamentations of pious Jews in the Maccabæan period, as well as of the Divine vengeance visited on him; cf. 1 Maccabees 2:8-13; 1 Maccabees 3:55; 1 Maccabees 3:51; 1 Maccabees 3:58 et seq.; 4:36 et seq.; 6:12 et seq. Such a silence in this connection with regard to so scandalous a deed is the more remarkable, since the historical books expressly record the robbery of the sanctuary perpetrated by Nebuchadnezzar, which action was known to our author, according to Daniel 1:2; cf. Daniel 4:3, as well as to his compatriots. He was not obliged therefore, as a cautious forger, to fear that he should betray his pseudonymity by the mention of the sacred edifice. How greatly the Sept. animated by the spirit and views of the Maccabæan time, must have desired to find in the words of Daniel 5:19, a condemnatory mention of the violence done to the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, and how appropriate it would seem to them, may appear from their addition to Daniel 4:19, which is certainly significant for the Asmonaaan period, and for that reason has unjustly been eliminated by Tischendorf without ceremony: ὑψώθη σοῦ καρδἰα ὑπερηφανία καὶ ἰσχύϊ ὑπὲρ τὰ πρὸς τὸν ἅγιον καὶ τὸὺ̀ς ἀγγέλους αὐτοῦ. Τὰ ἔργα σοῦ ὤφθη καθότι ἐξηρήμωσας τὸν οι̇̄κον τοῦ θερῦ τοῦ ζῶντος ἐπὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις τοῦ λαοῦ τοῦ ἡγιασμένου.”—The exact acquaintance of the writer with the architectural condition of Babylon (cf. the exegesis) which is apparent in Daniel 4:26 [ Daniel 4:29], and Daniel 4:27 [ Daniel 4:30], and is as unlooked for as it is evident, deserves to be mentioned as a circumstance of especial force as bearing against the hypothesis of a fiction in the interests of a tendency of the Maccabæan period. A Maccabæan author would scarcely have represented that his typical pseudo-Antiochus was overtaken by a fearful visitation of Divine justice in the form of an unusual disease, while walking on the roof of his own palace and within the limits of his capital. The temptation to let him encounter this fate in the place where Epiphanes succumbed to his, “in a strange land and in the desert,” would ‘have been almost irresistible (cf. 2 Maccabees 9:3; 2 Maccabees 9:28).

4. Homiletical suggestions.—The features of practical importance in this section are concentrated in Daniel 4:24 [ Daniel 4:27], the same passage in which Daniel’s words of exhortation and warning to the king furnish the leading elements of dogmatic significance. Not merely is the counsel of Daniel, recommending the practice of the virtues belonging to a ruler who pleases God, such as the doing of works of righteousness and mercy (cf. supra. No2), worthy of notice and of thorough homiletical treatment; but equally so the impulse which constrains and encourages him to venture this exhortation—his faith in the willingness of God to avert the threatened punishment from the king, in case he should repent and be converted while it was yet time; his truly prophetic and theocratic conviction that God might possibly repent of His purpose, on the fulfilment of the proper conditions by the threatened person. In this connection see the prophetic parallels adduced above, and compare the remarks of Jerome on this subject: “Si prœdixit sententiam Dei, quœ non potest immutari, quomodo hortatur ad eleemosynas et misericordias pauperum, ut Dei sententia commutetur? Quod facile solvitur Ezechiæ regis exemplo, quem Isajas dixerat esse moriturum, et Ninivitarum, quibus dictum est: Adhuc quadraginta dies, et Ninive subvertetur. Et tamen ad preces Ezechiæ et Ninive Dei sententia commutata est; non vanitate judicii, sed illorum conversione qui meruere indulgentiam. Alioquin et in Jeremia loquitur Deus se mala minari super gentem; et si bona fecerit, minas clementia commutare. Rursum bona agenti se asserit polliceri, et si mala fecerit, dicit se mutare suam sententiam; non in homines sed in opera, quœ mutata sunt. Neque enim Deus hominibus, sed vitiis irascitur; quœ quum in homine non fuerint, nequaquam punit quod mutatum est.” Cf. also Melancthon, Calvin, Geier and Starke, on this passage, and further, the expositions of Biblical theologians on the Old Testament teaching concerning the repentance of God, e.g., Steudel, Theologie des A. Ts., p 181 et seq.; Hävernick, Vorless., p65 et seq.; F. Majer, Was hast du wider das Alte Testament? (Stuttgart, 1864), p118 et seq, and Kling, in Herzog’s Real-Encykl., art. Reue, vol12. p764.—The theme derived from Daniel 4:24 [ Daniel 4:27] might therefore be formulated: “Repent of thy sin, and God will repent of the punishment threatened against thee;” or, “The aim of Divine punishment is the conversion of men; if this be attained, how gladly will He cause the punishment to cease” (Starke); or, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” ( Luke 6:36).[FN15]

Additional points of departure for homiletical discussion and observation are afforded in Daniel 3:31–33 [ Daniel 4:1-3], and Daniel 4:31-34 [ Daniel 4:34-37], the introductory and closing doxologies of the report. These are particularly adapted to serve as points of connection for sermons upon the entire narrative, having the theme, “All the works of God are truth, and His ways judgment” ( Daniel 4:34 [ Daniel 4:37]); or, “Humble yourselves in the sight of God, and He shall lift you up” ( James 4:10); or, “God puts down the mighty from their seats, and exalts them of low degree” ( Luke 1:52), etc. cf. especially what Theodoret observes, on Daniel 4:31 : Τοσαύτην ὠφέλειαν Ναβουχοδονόσορ ἐκ τῶν συμφορῶν ἐδέξατο, ὅτι προφητικῶς περὶ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ φρονεῑ καὶ φθέγγεται, καὶ ὡς ἐκ συμφωνίας τινὸς ἀπὸ τῆς κτίσεως πάσην σὴν ὑμνωδίαν ὔφαινει. Another homiletical text is contained in Daniel 4:3 [ Daniel 4:6] et seq, on which Cramer (in Starke) observes correctly, “If human wisdom cannot interpret and explain a dream, it is much less able to discover the secrets of God. Human reason should therefore not be permitted to be master in Divine things; for none can know what is in God, except the Spirit of God.” A still further passage of homiletical bearing is Daniel 4:26-30 [ Daniel 4:29-33], a powerful and awfully impressive illustration of the proverb, “Pride goeth before destruction” ( Proverbs 16:18). cf. Starke: “When a man permits the time for repentance to pass without a change of disposition, the Divine punishment overtakes him in the midst of his sins. He then learns that the threatenings of God were not idle words” ( Numbers 16:12; Numbers 16:31 et seq).

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Keil reviews at length the various reasons assigned for not summoning Daniel at first, and concludes that it must have been because the king had in the lapse of time and varied successes meanwhile totally forgotten the former prophetical powers of the Hebrew captive. This would be natural and entirely satisfactory, but for the fact that on his very introduction into the royal presence he in here designated as one possessing divine foreknowledge, an evident allusion to his former services in that relation.]

FN#2 - Keil, on the other hand, contends that “from Daniel 4:26 the duration of the עִדָּנִין cannot at all be concluded, and in Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7, the times are not years. עִדָּן designates generally a definite period of time, whose length or duration may be very different. “Seven is the ‘measure and signature of the history of the development of the kingdom of God, and of all the factors and phenomena significant for it” (Lämmert’s Revision of the Biblical or Symbolical Numbers, in the Jahrb. f. deutsche Theol., ix. p11), or as Leyrer, in Herzog’s Realencykl,: 18. p366, expresses himself, ‘the signature for all the actions of God, in judgment and in mercy, punishments, expiations, consecrations, blessings, consecrated with the economy of redemption, perfecting themselves in time.’ Accordingly, ‘seven times’ is the duration of the divine punishment which was decreed against Nebuchadnezzar for purposes connected with the history of redemption. Whether these times are to be understood as years, months, or weeks is not said, and cannot at all be determined. The supposition that they were seven years ‘cannot well be adopted in opposition to the circumstance that Nebuchadnezzar was again restored to reason, a thing that very rarely occurs, after so long a continuance of psychical disease’ (J. B. Friedrich, Zur Bibl. Naturhist, anthrop. u. med. Fragmente, I. p316).” This last argument, however, is of little force, in view of the evidently miraculous, or at least specially providential, character of the entire event. “C. B. Michaelis, Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Winer, Lengerke, and nearly all the critics agree that year is the probable meaning.”—Stuart. The supposed difficulty of the management of the empire during so long a period of the king’s incapacity is fairly disposed of by Stuart, by a reference to Berosus, who states that on Nebuchadnezzar’s return to his capital, after his protracted absence during his wars in Western Asia, upon his father’s death, “he took upon himself the affairs which had been managed by the Chaldees [Magi], and the royal authority which had been preserved for him by their chief” (Josephus, Antiq., 10:11, 1.) Geo. Rawlinson was inclined to find a trace of this interruption of Nebuchadnezzar’s government in the period of four years’ inactivity noted in his annals (Historical Evidences, p137) on the “Standard Inscription” (Herodotus, 2:485); but he has since doubted the reference (Five Monarchies, III:60).]

FN#3 - Keil, however, justly claims that “the change of עַד to עַל is unnecessary and arbitrary. The expression is general, because it is not yet said who is to be understood by the tree that is to be cut down. This general expression is in reality correct; for the king comes by experience to this knowledge, and so all will attach to it who consider this.”]

FN#4 - Keil, however, insists that the term here means “as it were an instant, a moment.” But so brief a delay would seem altogether insignificant, and could have excited little surprise, or called for any urging on the part of the king. Stuart, on the other hand, regards so long a hesitation as an hour as “very improbable,” and therefore adduces the derivation of שָׁעָה(a look; Germ. augenblick, Heb. רֶגַע) as favoring the signification an instant; and in this interpretation Gesenius and Fürst both coincide.]

FN#5 - We prefer to say, with Keil, that “the indefinite plur. form טָ‍ֽרְדִין stands instead of the passive, as the following יְטַעֲמוּן לָךְ and מְצַבְּעִין, cf. under Daniel 3:4. Thus the subject remains altogether indefinite, and one has neither to think of men who will drive him from their society, etc, nor of angels, of whom perhaps the expulsion of the ting may be predicated, but scarcely the feeding on grass and being wet with dew.”]

FN#6 - “Daniel knew nothing of a heathen Fatum, but he knew that the judgments of God were directed against men according to their conduct, and that punishment threatened could only be averted by repentance.”—Keil.]

FN#7 - This interpretation of פרק, however, is hardly satisfactory, for, as Keil urges, it “means to break off, to break in pieces, hence to separate, to disjoin, to put at a distance, see under Genesis 21:40. And though in the Targums פרק is used for פָּרָה,גָּאַל, to loosen, to unbend, of redeeming, ransoming the first-born, an inheritance, or any other valuable possession, yet this use of the word by no means accords with sins as the object, because sins are not goods which one redeems or ransoms so as to retain them for his own use.” Rosenmüller likewise notes this incongruity, and adduces Exodus 32:2, as an instance, where Onkelos retains the word in the sense of breaking off (the earrings). He even declares that “Chaldee writers employ פרק simply for laying aside as in Numbers 1:51.”]

FN#8 - Daniel prudently alludes to the king’s moral obliquities only in general terms. Impiety was doubtless his most heinous offence (see Daniel 4:27, 30], 37 40], and compare Daniel 5:22-23), and it was indeed his failure to remember Jehovah, whom he had once been brought to recognise ( Daniel 3:28), that bred and fostered his heaven-insulting arrogance. Yet Daniel doubtless hinted also at some special Sins of Nebuchadnezzar as a wilful despot. Stuart thinks “he means to designate his capricious and tyrannical behavior on some occasions when he fell into a rage; perhaps also to remind him of the heavy hand that pressed on all the captives whom he had led into exile” and still retained. This last seems especially probable from the particulars specified immediately.]

FN#9 - Keil thus aptly refutes the view of Bertholdt, Hitzig, and others, who “find here that the author falls out of the role of the king into the narrative tone, and thus betrays the fact that some other than the king framed the edict. But this conclusion is opposed by the fact that Nebuchadnezzar from Daniel 4:31, 34] speaks of his recovery again in the first person. Thus it is beyond doubt that the change of person has its reason in the matter itself. Certainly it could not be that in this Nebuchadnezzar thought it unbecoming to speak in his own person of his madness; for, if he had had so tender a regard for his own person, he would not have published the whole occurrence in a manifesto addressed to his subjects. But the reason of his speaking of his madness in the third person, as if some other one were narrating it, lies simply in this, that in that condition he was not Ich=Ego (Kliefoth). With the return of the Ich, I, on his recovery from his madness, Nebuchadnezzar begins again to narrate in the first person.”]

FN#10 - Keil will have it that “עָנֵח here means not simply to begin to speak, but, properly, to answer, and suggests to us a foregoing colloquy of the king with himself in his own mind” He prudently refrains, however, from inferring that Nebuchadnezzar was thinking of the very dream in question at the time.]

FN#11 - Rather, as Keil suggests, “the addition at Babylon does not indicate that the king was then living at a distance from Babylon, as Berth, von Leng, Maurer, and others imagine, but is altogether suitable to the matter, because Nebuchadnezzar certainly had palaces outside of Babylon; but it is made with reference to the language of the king which follows regarding the greatness of Babylon.”]

FN#12 - Abundant confirmation has been found of these enlargements and reconstructions of the edifices of Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in the excavations carried on there by Botta, Layard, and others. Most of the ancient bricks are stamped with the name of that monarch. See Rawlinson’s Herodotus, i412 (Am. ed.).]

FN#13 - This raising of his eyes to heaven was “the first sign of the return of human consciousness; from which, however, we are not to conclude, with Hitzig, that before this, in his madness, he went on all-fours like an ox

FN#14 - מְחָא בִידֵהּ in the Pael, to strike on the hand, to hinder, is derived from the custom of striking children on the hand in chastisement (Keil), or in order to check them from a proceeding.]

FN#15 - “This noble example of manly and Christian fidelity to his sovereign is worthy of all admiration, and of course imitation. Prompted by such manifest love and in manner so respectful to the king, and yet with so much personal dignity, it must have fallen upon the king’s mind with great force.—The sin specially indicated here, unrighteous oppression of the poor, looks very probably toward the terrible exactions of labor imposed upon his defenceless subjects (some of them captives of war) in those immense public works which were, in the eyes of men, the glory of his reign. The eye of Prayer of Manasseh, dazzled with so much architectural splendor, commonly fails to look down through to the crushed bodies and broken hearts, and to the hopeless, never-lifted pressure of woe which such a mass of coerced labor always signifies. Human eyes rarely see it, still more rarely make any account of it, but the Great Father sees it and can never fail to take it into most solemn account.”—Cowles.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Daniel 4:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/daniel-4.html. 1857-84.

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Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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