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king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; 29 As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to 30 pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their
in the latter days] lit. in the end (closing-part1) of the days. An expression which occurs fourteen times in the O.T., and which always denotes the closing period of the future so far as it falls within the range of view of the writer using it. The sense expressed by it is thus relative, not absolute, varying with the context. In Gen. xlix. I (spoken from Jacob's standpoint) it is used of the period of Israel's occupation of Canaan; in Numb. xxiv. 14 of the period of Israel's future conquest of Moab and Edom (see vv. 17, 18); in Deut. xxxi. 29 and iv. 30, of the periods, respectively, of Israel's future apostasy and return to God; in Ez. xxxviii. 16 (cf. v. 8—with years for days) of the imagined period of Gog's attack upon restored Israel; in Dan. x. 14 of the age of Antiochus Epiphanes. Elsewhere it is used of the ideal, or Messianic age, conceived as following at the close of the existing order of things: Hos. iii. 5; Is. ii. 2 (=Mic. iv. 1); Jer. xlviii. 47, xlix. 39; comp. xxiii. 20 (=xxx. 24). Here, as the sequel shews, it is similarly the period of the establishment of the Divine Kingdom which is principally denoted by it (vv. 34, 35; 44, 45); but the closing years of the fourth kingdom (vv. 40-43) may also well be included in it.
visions of thy head] iv. 5, 10, 13, vii. 1, 15.
came into thy mind] lit. came up,-the corresponding Heb. word followed by upon the heart,' being a Heb. idiom for occur to, be thought of by: cf. 2 Esdr. iii. I; and see Is. lxv. 17; Jer. iii. 16, vii. 31, xix. 5, xxxii. 35, xliv. 21, li. 50; Acts vii. 23. The king, as he lay awake at night, was meditating on the future, speculating, it may be, upon the future destinies of his kingdom, or the success of his projects for the beautification of his capital; and the dream, it seems to be implied, was the form into which, under Providence, his thoughts gradually shaped themselves. In a dream, the images and impressions, which the mind, while in a waking state, has received, are recombined into new, and often fantastic forms; in the present case, a colossal and strangely constructed statue was the form which the recombination ultimately produced.
30. Like Joseph (Gen. xl. 8, xli. 16), Daniel disclaims the power of interpreting dreams by his own wisdom.
but for their sakes that shall make known, &c.] but to the intent that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that thou mayest know, &c. (R.V.).
For the sense of
see Job viii. 7, xlii. 12 (where it denotes clearly the
latter part of a man's life).
Cf. in the N.T. Acts ii. 17 (for the 'afterward' of Joel ii. 28), Heb. i. 2, 2 Tim. iii. 1, 2 Pet. iii. 3.
sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head 32 was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron 33 and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out 34 without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces. Then was 35 the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no
31-35. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar his dream.
31. sawest] more exactly, wast seeing. So v. 34.
This image, which was mighty, and whose brightness was surpassing] Excellent' in Old English (from excello, to rise up out of, to surpass) had the distinctive meaning, which it has now lost, of surpassing, preeminent; and it is regularly to be understood with this force, wherever it occurs in P.B. V. of the Psalms, in A. V., and (usually) even in R.V. See the passages cited in the Note at the end of the Chapter; and cf. Blundeville, Exercises, fol. 156 a (ed. 1594), stars are not seen by day "because they are darkened by the excellent brightness of the sun" (W. A. Wright, Bible Word-book, s.v.).
form] aspect (R.V.), or appearance. Cf. Gen. xii. II, 2 Sam. xiv. 27 (and elsewhere), where the Hebrew is lit. 'fair of aspect.'
32, 33. The head of the image was of gold; but its substance deteriorated more and more until the feet were reached, which were of mingled iron and clay.
32. This image's head was, &c.] more forcibly, and also in better agreement with the original, As for that image, its head was, &c.
brass] i.e. copper (or bronze): see Wright's Bible Word-book.
34. was cut out] viz. from a neighbouring mountain (see v. 45). without hands] without human cooperation; it seemed to fall away of itself. But of course the implicit thought is that its secret mover was God: cf. the similar expressions in viii. 25 end ('shall be broken without hand,' of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes); Job xxxiv. 20; Lam. iv. 6: also (in a different connexion) 2 Cor. v. 1, Heb. ix. 24.
35. The absolute dissipation of the image. The feet being broken, the entire image fell to pieces; and the fragments were dispersed by the wind. A fall would not naturally break masses of metal into fragments small enough to be scattered by the wind; but in a dream physical impossibilities or improbabilities occasion no difficulty.
threshingfloors] which were generally on exposed or elevated spots, where the chaff might readily be cleared away by the wind. Cf. Hos. xiii. 3, Is. xli. 16, Ps. i. 4; and with no place, &c., Rev. xx. II.
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.
37. 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, 1st 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. 11, 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, in 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 (οἱ Μῆδοι, τὰ 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 41 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 42
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. 1, 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. 1, 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. 1. 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 43 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 44 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 kingdom shall be strong, and part of it shall be broken.
shall be mingling themselves by the seed of men] i.e. will contract matrimonial alliances. By 'seed of men' are meant probably children of the monarchs ruling at the time.
is not mixed with clay] 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.
and it shall stand for ever] the it is emphatic.
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