« السابقةمتابعة »
which have been made to prove the contrary cannot be pronounced successful. Lenormant, for example1, observing that the great work on magic preserved in Asshurbanabal's library consists of three parts, dealing respectively with incantations against evil spirits, incantations against diseases, and magical hymns, argued that these three divisions corresponded exactly to the three classes, hartummim or 'conjurateurs,' wise men or 'médecins,' and 'ashshaphim or 'théosophes," mentioned in Daniel by the side of the astrologers and diviners (kasdim and gāzerin): but the parallel drawn is an arbitrary one; there is no reason whatever for supposing that ‘wise men' in Heb. or Aramaic denoted ‘médecins,' or 'ashshaphim 'théosophes.' It seems evident that the author simply took such terms denoting diviners or magicians, as were traditionally connected with Babylon, or seemed to him on other grounds to be suitable, and combined them together, for the purpose of presenting a general picture of the manner in which the arts of divination and magic were systematically studied in Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar, in his second year, being disquieted by a dream, demands of the wise men of Babylon that they should repeat and interpret it to him as they are unable to do this, they are condemned by him to death (vv. 1—12). Daniel, and his companions, being involved in the condemnation, and finding consequently their lives in jeopardy, betake themselves to prayer; their supplication is answered by the secret of the dream being revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night (ʊʊ. 13—23). Being now, at his own request, brought before the king, Daniel describes and interprets his dream to him (vv. 24-45), and is rewarded by him with high honours (vv. 46-49):
The dream was of a colossal image, the head consisting of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the body of brass, the legs of iron, the feet of iron and clay mixed: as Nebuchadnezzar was contemplating it, a stone 'cut out without hands' suddenly fell, smiting the feet of the image, which thereupon broke up, while the stone became a mountain, filling the whole earth. The image symbolizes the anti-theocratic power of the world; and its principal parts are interpreted to signify four empires, the head of gold being Nebuchadnezzar himself, representing the first empire. With the exception of the first, the empires intended are not expressly indicated; and it has been much disputed what the three following the first are. It is, however, generally admitted that the four kingdoms symbolized in Nebuchadnezzar's dream are the same as the four represented by the four beasts in Daniel's vision in Chap. VII.; so that the discussion of the question will come more suitably at the end of the notes on Chap. VII. The conclusion there reached, it may be premised, is that the second, third, and fourth empires are, respectively, the Median, the Persian, and the Macedonian. But whatever may be the case with the three disputed empires, the 'stone cut out without hands' clearly represents the kingdom of God, before which all earthly powers are destined ultimately to fall.
1 La Magie, p. 13 f.
And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was
The main object of the chapter is to shew-(1) how the heathen king is brought (v. 47) to acknowledge the supremacy of Daniel's God; (2) how the sequence of empires is in the hands of God; and (3) how a Divine kingdom is destined ultimately to be established upon earth. The representation of the magnificent but hollow splendour of earthly empire in the form of a 'huge, gleaming, terrible colossus, of many colours and different metals, brilliant at its summit, but gradually deteriorating, both in material and appearance, towards its base, and, when struck by the falling rock, instantly collapsing into atoms, is fine and striking.
The narrative seems to a certain extent to be modelled on that of Joseph in Gen. xli., there being parallels in both idea and expression. In both narratives a heathen monarch is troubled by a dream which he cannot understand; in both he sends for his own wise men, who fail to remove his perplexity; in both a young Jewish captive, relying on the help of his God, is successful, and is rewarded by the king with high honours, and a life-long position of influence in his kingdom. For similarities of expression, see the notes on vv. 1, 2, 12, 28, 30.
1-6. Nebuchadnezzar, being troubled by a dream, summons the wise men of Babylon before him, and bids them both tell him what his dream had been, and also interpret it to him.
1. in the second year] There is not, perhaps, necessarily a contradiction here with the 'three years' of i. 5, 18. By Heb. usage, fractions of time were reckoned as full units: thus Samaria, which was besieged from the fourth to the sixth year of Hezekiah, is said to have been taken 'at the end' of three years (2 Ki. xvii. 9, 10); and in Jer. xxxiv. 14 'at the end of seven years' means evidently when the seventh year has arrived (see also Mark viii. 31, &c.). If, now, the author, following a custom which was certainly sometimes adopted by Jewish writers, and which was general in Assyria and Babylonia, 'post-dated' the regnal years of a king, i.e. counted as his first year not the year of his accession but the first full year afterwards1, and further Nebuchadnezzar gave orders for the education of the Jewish youths in his accession-year, the end of the 'three years' of i. 5, 18 might be reckoned as falling within the king's second year. Ewald, Kamphausen, and Prince, however, suppose that 'ten' has fallen out of the text; and would read 'in the twelfth year.'
dreamed dreams] In Assyria and Babylonia, as in Egypt, and other countries of the ancient world, dreams were regarded as significant, and as portending future events. The Assyrian inscriptions furnish several instances of deities appearing in dreams with words of encouragement or advice. Thus Asshur appears to Gugu (Gyges), king of Lydia, in a dream, and tells him that, if he grasps the feet' (i.e. owns the sovereignty) of Asshurbanapal, he will overcome his foes (KB. ii.
1 See art. CHRONOLOGY, in Hastings' Dict. of the Bible, p. 400.
2 troubled, and his sleep brake from him. Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his
173, 175). During Asshurbanapal's war with his 'false' brother, Shamash-shum-ukin, a professional dreamer saw written on the moon, 'Whoso plans evil against Asshurbanapal, an evil death will I prepare against him' (ib. p. 187). When the same king was warring against Ummanaldashi, king of Elam, Ishtar sent his army a dream, in which she said to them, 'I march before Asshurbanapal, the king whom my hands have made' (ib. p. 201); and in another war she appeared to a professional dreamer, standing before the king, armed, and assuring him that, wherever he went, she went likewise (ib. p. 251). Nabu-na'id, the last king of Babylon (B.C. 555-538), was commanded, or encouraged, to restore temples by deities appearing to him in dreams (ib. iii. 2, pp. 85, 97, 99). On another occasion, Nabu-na'id saw in a dream a great star in heaven, the significance of which Nebuchadnezzar (also in the dream) explained to him1. These, however, are mostly cases of the apparitions of deities; for instances of symbolical dreams, such as the one of Nebuchadnezzar, we may compare rather, though they are much briefer, the dreams in Herodotus, i. 107, 108, 209, iii. 30, 124, vii. 19 (cited below, on iv. 10).
and his spirit was troubled] More exactly, was agitated, disturbed; so v. 3. The expression is borrowed from Gen. xli. 8: cf. Ps. lxxvii. 5 I am agitated and cannot speak.'
brake from him] More lit. was come to pass,―i.e. was completed or done with (something like the Latin actum est; cf. viii. 27),-upon him,-upon' being used idiomatically to emphasize the person who is the subject of an experience, or (more often) of an emotion, and who, as it were, is sensible of it as acting or operating upon himself. Cf. Ps. xlii. 4 'I will pour out my soul upon me,' 5 'why moanest thou upon me?' 6' my soul upon me is cast down,' cxlii. 3 when my spirit fainteth upon me,' cxliii. 4, Jer. viii. 18 'my heart upon me is sick,' Job xxx. 16 (R.V. marg.), Lam. iii. 20 'my soul is bowed down upon me within, in all these passages, does not express the idea of the Hebrew. Cf. the writer's Parallel Psalter, Glossary I, s. v. upon (p. 464); and see also Dan. v. 9. 2. the magicians, and the enchanters] See on i. 20. As in Egypt (Gen. xli. 8), the 'magicians' and 'wise men' (v. 12) would be the natural persons for the king to consult on the interpretation of a dream.
and the sorcerers] This is a word which is well known in the earlier literature: e.g. Ex. vii. 11, xxii. 18 (in the fem.); Deut. xviii. 10; cf. the subst. sorceries Mic. v. II, and (in Babylon) Is. xlvii. 9, 12.
Chaldeans] Here, as in i. 4, used in the sense of the priestly or learned class (see p. 12 ff.). So vv. 4, 5, 10.
for to shew] for to tell (R.V.). To 'shew' is used often in A.V., and sometimes in R.V., not in the modern sense of pointing out, but in that of telling or declaring; and it stands here for the Heb. word
1 Messerschmidt, Die Inschrift der Stele Nabuna'ids, 1896, p. 30f.
dreams. So they came and stood before the king. the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is usually rendered tell declare. So Gen. xlvi. 31 (R.V. tell); Jud. xiii. 10; 1 Sam xi. 9 (R. V. told), xix. 7, xxv. 8 (R.V. told); 2 Ki. vi. II; Is. xli. 22, 26 (R.V. declare), &c.; cf. the Parallel Psalter, p. 481. was disturbed] or is disturbed. It is not perfectly clear whether the intention of the writer is to represent the king as having really forgotten the dream and desiring to have it recalled to him; or as still remembering it, and merely making this demand for the purpose of testing the magicians' skill.
4. in Syriack] in Aramaic, i.e. the language of the Aramaeans, an important branch of the Semitic stock, inhabiting chiefly Mesopotamia, Syria, and part of Arabia. There were numerous 'Aramaic' dialectsas the Aramaic spoken in Assyria, at Zinjirli (near Aleppo), in Palmyra, in Têma, by the Nabataeans at 'el'Öla, that of the books of Daniel and Ezra, that of the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, that of the Babylonian, that of the Palestinian Talmud-which, while similar in their general features, differed in details, somewhat in the manner in which the Greek dialects differed from one another: but the language which is now known distinctively as 'Syriac,'-i. e. the language in which the 'Peshitta' version of the Bible (2nd cent. A.D.) was made, and in which an extensive Christian literature exists,-differs markedly from the Aramaic of Daniel and Ezra : and hence the rendering Syriack suggests an entirely false idea of the language here meant. R.V., ‘in the Syrian language' (cf. Is. xxxvi. 11) is some improvement; but the term which ought to be employed is Aramaic.'
The Aramaic part of the book begins with the words O king; and if(in) Aramaic' forms an integral part of the sentence, the author, it seems, must mean to indicate that in his opinion Aramaic was used at the court for communications of an official nature. That, however, does not explain why the use of Aramaic continues to the end of ch. vii.; and it is besides quite certain that Aramaic, such as that of the Book of Daniel, was not spoken in Babylon. Very probably Oppert, Lenormant, Nestle, and others are right in regarding' Aramaic' as originally a marginal note, indicating that that language begins to be used here; in this case the word will in English be naturally enclosed in brackets, And they spake to the king, [Aramaic] O king, &c.' The second (in) Aramaic in Ezra iv. 7 is probably to be explained similarly ('was written in Aramaic, and interpreted. [Aramaic]').
O king, live for ever] The standing formula, with which, in Dan., the king is addressed (iii. 9, v. 10, vi. 6, 21); elsewhere (in the 3rd person) only on somewhat exceptional occasions, 1 Ki. i. 31 ; Neh. ii. 3.
we will shew] declare.
5. The thing is gone from me] The word spoken by me-lit.
gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore 7 shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the 8 dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it. The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain
(proceeding) from me—is sure. The king means that the threat which follows is fully resolved upon by him. Azda is a Persian word, meaning sure, certain (see Schrader, KAT.2, p. 617); the rendering 'gone' is philologically indefensible. if ye will not make known] if ye make not known (R.V.). · Will not,' in this sentence would (in modern English) mean are not willing to,' which is not in the Aramaic at all.
cut in pieces] more exactly, dismembered; lit. made into (separate) limbs; so iii. 29 (cf. 2 Macc. i. 16 μéλn woho avres). The word for 'limb' (haddām,-common in Syriac, but in the O.T. found only here and iii. 29) is Persian (Zend hañdāma, Mod. Pers. andām). The violence and peremptoriness of the threatened punishment is in accordance with what might be expected at the hands of an Eastern despot: the Assyrians and Persians, especially, were notorious for the barbarity of their punishments.
be made a dunghill] Cf. iii. 29 and Ezra vi. 11 (where Darius decrees the same punishment for any one altering the terms of his edict).
6. shew (twice)] declare. So vv. 7, 9, 10, 11, 16, 24, 27, iv. 2, v. 7,
rewards] A rare word, probably of Persian origin (according to Andreas, in the Glossary in Marti's Gramm. der Bibl.-Aram. Sprache, properly, tribute, present), found otherwise only in v. 17, where it stands in a similar context.
7-12. The wise men profess their willingness to interpret the king's dream but protest that his demand that they should tell him what his dream was is an extravagant one. Nebuchadnezzar, however, adheres to his original demand: and as they are unable to comply with it, commands them to be put to death.
7. again] the second time (R.V.).
8. of certainty] We should say now, of a certainty.' Murray quotes from North's Plutarch (1580), 'It is of certainty that her proper name was Nicostrata.'
would gain time (R.V.)] lit. are buying the time. Their repeated request to the king to tell them his dream is proof to him that they have no power to reveal secrets, and that they could not therefore interpret his dream, even though he were to describe it to them : hence he charges them with buying the time, i.e. with endeavouring to defer