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place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation 37 thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings:
for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, 38 and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of
men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the
heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee 39 ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. And
became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth] another figure, the incongruity of which would not be perceived in a dream, implying the irresistible expansive force, and also the ultimate universality, of the kingdom of God (v. 44).
36–45. The interpretation of the dream. The four parts of the image signify four kingdoms,—the first being represented by its present and greatest ruler, Nebuchadnezzar. a king of kings ] king of kings, –
-a title applied to Nebuchadnezzar in Ez. xxvi. 7, though (Prince) not the customary Babylonian form of address. It is, however, one that was borne constantly by the Persian kings: cf. Ezr. vii. 12; and see the series of inscriptions of Persian kings, published in Records of the Past, ist ser., i. 111 ff., v. 151 ff., ix. 65.ff. An Aramaic inscription found at Saqqarah, near Cairo, is dated in the 4th year of “Xerxes, king of kings."
for, &c.] unto whom the God of heaven (v. 19) hath given the kingdom, the power, the strength, and the glory. Daniel ascribes Nebuchadnezzar's dominion to the Providence of God, exactly as is done (in other terms) by Jeremiah (xxv. 9, xxvii. 6, xxviii. 14).
38. the beasts of the field] i.e. wild animals (cf. in Heb. e.g. Ex. xxiii. II, 29). These and the birds are mentioned in order to represent Nebuchadnezzar's rule as being as absolute as possible; the former are borrowed, no doubt, from Jer. xxvii. 6, xxviii. 14.
art this) art the. The pronoun in the Aramaic has here no demonstrative force ; see Kautzsch, Gramm. des Bibl. Aram., § 87. 3. The four parts of the image symbolize four kingdoms; but Nebuchadnezzar, both in reality and in the memory of posterity, so eclipsed all other rulers of the first monarchy, that he is identified with it as a whole.
39. The second and third kingdoms are, in all probability, the Median and the Persian. The home of the Medes was in the mountainous country N. and N.E. of Babylon, and S.W. of the Caspian Sea ; they are often mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions from the 8th cent. B.C. ; but they were first consolidated into an important power by Cyaxares, B.C. 624-584, during whose reign, 607, they were the chief instruments in bringing about the destruction of Nineveh. Cyaxares was succeeded by Astyages, whose soldiers deserted en masse to Cyrus (B.C. 549); and the empire of the Medes thus passed into the hands of the Persians. Their name was however long remembered; for the Greeks regularly spoke of the Persians as Medes (οι Μήδοι, τα Μηδικά).
after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as 40 iron : forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter's clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and In the book of Daniel the 'Medes and Persians' are, it is true, sometimes represented as united (v. 28, vi. 8, 12, 15, cf. viii. 20): but elsewhere they are represented as distinct; after the fall of Babylon, Darius 'the Mede' 'receives the kingdom' (v. 31), and acts in it as king (vi. I, 2, 15, 25, 26); he reigns for a time—it is not said how long-and is succeeded by Cyrus, who is called pointedly 'the Persian (vi. 28; cf. x. I, and contrast ix. 1, xi. 1); the two horns of the ram in viii. 3 are distinguished from each other, one (representing the Persian empire) being higher (i.e. more powerful) than the other the Median empire), and coming up after it. Thus in the view of the author of the book, the more powerful rule of Persia is preceded by a 'kingdom of the Medes, beginning immediately after the death of Belshazzar. It is possible that this representation is based upon the prediction in Is. xiii. 17, Jer. li. 11, 28, that the Medes would be the conquerors of Babylon. If the second kingdom be the Median, the third will be that of Persia ; it is described as ruling over all the earth,' with allusion to the wide empire of Cyrus and his successors, which embraced virtually the whole of Western Asia (including Asia Minor) and Egypt (cf. the note on iv. 1, at the end). Compare in the O.T. Ezr. i. 2. Est. i. 1, X. I.
inferior to thee) lit. lower than thou.
40. The fourth kingdom, the formidable crushing power of which is compared to iron. The allusion is to the Macedonian empire, founded by Alexander the Great.
subdueth] or beateth down: in Syr. the word used means to forge a metal.
breaketh all these...and bruise] crusheth all these...and crush (R.V.).
41. The kingdom which began by being of iron, ended in being partly of iron and partly of clay, symbolizing its division, one part being stronger than the other.
it shall be a divided kingdom) alluding to the manner in which Alexander's empire, immediately after his death (B.C. 332) was partitioned between his generals, the two who, in the end, divided it substantially between them being Seleucus and Ptolemy Lagi, who founded, respectively, dynasties which continued long in power at Antioch in Syria and in Egypt (see fuller particulars on xi. 5 ff.). The stronger kingdom, represented by the iron, is that of the Seleucidae.
strength] an unusual word, more exactly firmness.
part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixt with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed : and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
42. so the kingdom, &c.] so part of the kingilom shall be strong, and part of it shall be broken.
43. shall be mingling themselves by the seed of men] i.e. will contract inatrimonial alliances. By 'seed of men' are meant probably children of the monarchs ruling at the time.
is not mixed with ciay] doth not mingle with clay. The allusion in this verse is to matrimonial alliances contracted between the Ptolemies and the Seleucidae (cf. xi. 6, 17), which did not, however, succeed in producing permanent harmony or union between them.
44, 45. The kingdom of God, to succeed these kingdoms.
44. in the days of these kings) i.e. of the Seleucidae and Ptolemies, as is implied by the part of the image on which the stone falls (v. 34). The period in the history of these monarchies which is more particularly referred to is the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 175–164), whose fall, according to the representation of the book of Daniel (cf. vii. 25-27, xi. 45--xii. 3), was to be succeeded immediately by the establishment of the kingdom of God.
shall never be destroyed] in contrast to the previous kingdoms, which, from different causes, had all perished. Cf. vii. 14.
and the kingdom, &c.] nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people. It will endure for ever ; and its power will never be transferred to another people. The expression implies that the Divine kingdom itself is in the hands of a people, viz. Israel.
break in pieces] cf. vv. 34, 35.
45. Forasmuch as thou hast seen in thy dream this colossal image preternaturally destroyed (vv. 34, 35), a great God hath let thee see behind the veil of the future, and made known to thee what will come to pass hereafter (cf. Gen. xli. 28).
a great God] the original is indefinite, not definite : Daniel speaks from the standpoint of the heathen king.
the dream is certain, &c.] an asseveration of the truth of what has
Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and 46 worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. The king answered 47 unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets,
been stated, in the apocalyptic style: cf. viii. 26, X. 1, xi. 2; Rev. xxi. 5, xxii. 6.
48. Nebuchadnezzar is profoundly impressed by Daniel's skill, and bestows upon him high honour and rewards (cf. the promise of
46. fell upon his face] a mark of respect—whether to God, as Gen. xvii. 3, or to men, 2 Sam. ix. 6, xiv. 4.
and worshipped Daniel] bowed down to Daniel,—the word used in iii. 5, 6, 7 &c. of adoration paid to a deity. In the Targums, however, the same word is used (for the Heb. to prostrate oneself to) of obeisance done to a human superior (as 2 Sam. xiv. 33, xviii. 21, 28, xxiv. 20); so that it does not necessarily imply the payment of divine honour.
that they should offer] lit. pour out,—the word used of pouring out a libation or drink-offering (2 Ki. xvi. 13, and elsewhere), though here employed evidently in a more general sense.
an oblation] The word means properly a present, especially one offered as a mark of homage or respect (Gen. xxxii. 13, xliii. 11); it is also used generally in the sense of an oblation presented to God (Gen. iv. 3, 4, 5; 1 Sam. ii. 17), as well as technically, in the priestly terminology, of the meal-offering' (Lev. iii. &c.). The second of these three senses is the most probable here.
sweet odours] lit. rests or contentments. The word is that which occurs in the sacrificial expression • sweet savour' (Gen. viii. 21; Lev. i. 2, &c.), lit. 'savour of rest or contentment': it is used (exceptionally) without savour,' exactly as here, in Ezr. vi. 10, 'that they may offer rests (or contentments) to the God of heaven.' 'Bowed down to' is ambiguous; but the subsequent parts of the verse certainly represent Daniel as receiving the homage due to a god. Daniel does not refuse the homage (contrast Acts xiv. 13-18): in the view of the writer, he is (cf. v. 47) the representative of the God of gods to Nebuchadnezzar. Compare the story in Jos. Ant. XI. viii. 5, according to which Alexander the Great prostrated himself before the Jewish high-priest, and when asked by his astonished general, Parmenio, why he did so, replied, " I do not worship the high-priest, but the God with whose high-priesthood he has been honoured.”
a God...a Lord] the God...the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges the supremacy of Daniel's God over all other gods, and His sovereignty over all kings. 'Lord of lords' (bêl bêlê), and 'Lord of gods' (bêl ilâni), are titles often given by the Babylonian kings (including Nebuchadnezz Marduk, the supreme god of Babylon ; but it is doubtful whether the terms here used were chosen with allusion to the fact. "God of gods,' as Deut. x. 17; Ps. cxxxvi. 2; ch. xi. 36.
a revealer of secrets] as Daniel had averred, v. 28; cf. v. 22.
48 seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. Then the king made
Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and
chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abed-nego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
couldest] better, hast been able to.
48. made Daniel a great man] made Daniel great, i.e. advanced, promoted him.
made him to rule, &c.] i.e., probably, made him administrator of the principal province of the empire, in which the capital was; opp. to the local provinces,' iii. 2.
and (appointed him) chief of the praefects over, &c.] The idea appears to be (Hitz., Keil, Pusey, p. 20) that each division, or class (v. 2), of the 'wise men' had its own head; and Daniel was promoted to have the supervision of them all. Cf. iv. 9, v. II ('made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and determiners of fates'). Praefect' (segan, Heb. sāgān) recurs iii. 2, 3, 27, vi. 7; and is found also in Jer. li. 23, 28, 57; Ez. xxiii. 6, 12, 23; Is. xli. 25 (A.V. in Jer., Ez. rulers, in Is. princes; R.V. always deputy or ruler). It is a Hebraized form of the Assyrian shaknu (from shakanu, to appoint), a word used constantly in the inscriptions of the 'praefect' appointed by the Assyrian king to govern a conquered district, or a city. Here the term is used more generally, as it is also in Ezr. ix. 2, Neh. ii. 16, iv. 14, 19, v. 7, 17, vii. 5, xii. 40, xiii. 11, of certain civic officials in Jerusalem (A.V., R. V., 'ruler').
On the historical difficulty arising out of this statement respecting Daniel, see the Introd. p. lv, note.
49. At Daniel's request, his three companions are transferred from the ranks of those who stood before the king' (i. 19) to positions of authority over the 'business of the province of Babylon,'—i.e., probably, to act as deputies or assistants to Daniel himself. Daniel's motive in making this request may have been either simply the promotion of his three friends, or (Hitz., Keil, Meinh.) that he himself might be relieved of duties necessitating his absence from Nebuchadnezzar's court.
but Daniel was in the gate of the king) at the main entrance to the palace; fig. for, he remained at court (Sept. év Tôn Bagideky aŭlõ).
Cf. Est. ii. 19, 21, where it is said that Mordecai 'sat in the king's gate' (cf. iii. 2, 3, iv. 2, 6, v. 9, 13, vi. 10, 12); and Xen. Cyrop. viii. i. 6 (cf. Hdt. iii. 120), where this is said to have been the usual custom with the officials of the Persian court. The verse is apparently written in view of chap. iii. (see vv. 3 end, 12).
Additional Note on 'Excellent' and 'Excellency.' The following synopsis of the occurrences of these words in A.V., R.V., and in the P.B. Version of the Psalms, may illustrate and support what is said above with regard to their meaning in these versions.