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changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter is by 17 the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of
of a beast (imagine himself an animal). The heart, in Hebrew psychology, is the seat not (as commonly with us) of tender feeling (a 'heartless' man), but of the intellect: cf. Hos. vii. 11, 'a silly dove, without heart,' i.e. without understanding, Jer. v. 21, 'a foolish people, without understanding,' lit. without heart.
seven times] i.e. seven years: cf. vii. 25, xii. 7 (Heb. môred); Rev. xii. 14 (κapós). With 'pass over,' comp. I Ch. xxix. 30.
17. This matter] either The word (i.e. The sentence, R.V., as Eccl. viii. 11 [cf. Est. i. 20, the decree, for the same word in Hebrew]), or (in a weakened sense), The thing (cf. iii. 16 'in this matter'), i.e. what has just been described.
by the decree &c.] implying that it is unalterably fixed.
of the watchers, &c.] in v. 24 the king's doom is said to be 'by the decree of the Most High.' God is represented in the O.T. as surrounded by an assembly of angels (1 Ki. xxii. 19), who form almost a kind of heavenly council, Job i. 6, ii. 1, xv. 8 (R.V. marg.), Jer. xxiii. 18, Ps. lxxxix. 7; and it seems that in Dan. the decree is regarded as possessing the joint authority of God and of His council. By the later Jews this assembly of angels was called God's 'court of judgement'
and He was represented as taking ;(פמליא) or His family ,(בית דין)
counsel with it, or communicating to it His purposes (so Gen. i. 26 in the Targ. of Ps.-Jon.). In Sanh. 386 it is said, "The Holy One, blessed be He! does nothing without first consulting the family above, as it is said (Dan. iv. 17), ‘By the decree of the watchers,' &c." See further Weber, System der Altsynag. Theol. p. 170 f.
the demand] probably the matter (R.V. marg.). The Aram. means either a request (1 K. ii. 16, Heb. and Targ., Luke xxiii. 24, Pesh. for aiтnua), or a question, subject of discussion or dispute (Jer. xii. 1, Targ.); and is hence generally supposed to have here the weakened sense of the matter. (Demand' must be understood in a sense analogous to that expressed by the verb in ii. 27 (see the note); there no warrant for giving the Aram. word the sense of authoritative request.)
to the intent &c.] the humiliation of the mighty king is to teach all who witness it that God is supreme over the kingdoms of the world.
the basest] i.e. the lowest (R.V.),—viz. in rank and position, not in character. 'Base' in Old English meant 'low, humble, not necessarily worthless or wicked,' (Wright, Bible Word-Book, s.v.). Polydore Vergil i. 70 (cited b.), which the baser sorte [i.e. common people] doe som time superstitiouslye note as signs and wonders.' In 1 Cor. i. 28 the 'base things of the world' (rà ayevî toû Kóσμov) means merely 'things of no account'; and in 2 Cor. x. 1 St Paul in calling himself (A.V.) 'base
This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and 20 the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the 22 heaven had their habitation: it is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and
among you,' of course really only means to say that he is 'lowly' (R.V.). Cf. Ez. xvii. 14, xxix. 14, 15. The same word which is used in the Aram. here is used also (in its Heb. form) in Job v. 11, 'to set up on high those that be low;' Ps. cxxxviii. 6, 'yet hath he respect unto the lowly,' and Is. lvii. 15 (‘humble').
18. Nebuchadnezzar closes his description of his dream by appealing to Daniel to interpret it.
for the spirit &c.] See v. 8.
19-27. Daniel's interpretation of the dream.
was astonied] better, was stupefied or appalled, viz. as the meaning of the dream flashed across him. The root-idea of the word (DD) seems to have been to be motionless,—sometimes (cf. on viii. 13) in the stillness of desolation, sometimes, as here, through amazement (so viii. 27). It is not the word used in iii. 24.
about one hour] In view of what was said on iii. 6, however, it is doubted by many whether sha'ah is meant here to denote exactly what we call an hour'; and they render accordingly for a moment. Cf. Ex. xxxiii. 5, where nearly the same expression (N) stands in the Targ. for the Heb. i.e. 'for a moment.'
his thoughts alarmed (v. 5) him] he dreaded, viz., to foretell to the king his own disasters. The same phrase, v. 6, 10, vii. 28. The king, however, observing his confusion, and perceiving from it that he has found the interpretation of the dream, proceeds to reassure him.
20-21. The description repeated from vv. 11-12.
21. meat] food, as v. 12.
22. The tree represented Nebuchadnezzar himself, in the pride and greatness of his empire.
reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and a holy one 23 coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him; this is the interpretation, O king, and 24 this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: that they shall drive thee from men, and 25 thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And 26 whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, 27
to the end of the earth] Comp. what was said on v. 1. 23. Abbreviated from vv. 13-16.
24. and it is the decree of the most High, &c.] cf. v. 17 a.
The sense of vv. 15, 16, 176 explained more distinctly: Nebuchadnezzar, imagining himself to be an animal, will act himself, and be treated by others, accordingly.
that they shall drive thee...and they shall make thee to eat...and they shall wet thee] R.V. that thou shalt be driven...and thou shalt be made to eat...and shalt be wet. In Aramaic, the 3rd pers. plur. with indef. subject is often used where we should employ the passive, even though the agent implicitly referred to is God, see e.g. ii. 30 (lit. 'that they should make known'), iii. 4 (lit. 'they command"), iv. 16 (lit. 'let them change...let them give'), 31 (lit. 'they speak'),—in all which passages A.V. itself paraphrases by the passive. The same usage occurs sometimes in Biblical Hebrew (see on i. 12); and it is frequent in the later language, as Abhoth, iv. 7 (cited on v. 26)1. Cf. Matth. v. 15; Luke vi. 38, 44, xii. 2o (ἀπαιτοῦσιν); Rev. xii. 6 τρέφωσιν (v. 14 τρέφεται).
26. they commanded] viz. the watchers (cf. v. 17). Or, in accordance with the principle just explained, it was commanded.
sure] i.e. confirmed, secure: cf. vi. 26 ('stedfast'). The object of the humiliation was (v. 25 b) to teach the king that his power was not his own, but delegated to him by God, the supreme ruler of the world; provision was therefore made that when he had learnt this lesson his kingdom should be restored to him (cf. v. 32b).
that the heavens do rule] The use of 'heaven,' either as a metonym, or
1 See further examples in Dalman, Die Worte Jesu (1898), p. 184.
let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
as an expression of reverence, for God, does not occur elsewhere in the O.T.; but it is found in the Apocrypha, as I Macc. iii. 18, R.V. [contrast 1 Sam. xiv. 6], 19 (cf. v. 60), iv. 10, 24, 55, 2 Macc. ix. 20; and it is especially frequent in the Mishna, as Abhoth, i. 3, 'and let the fear of Heaven be upon you'; ii. 16, let all thy deeds be in the name of Heaven'; iv. 7, 'whoso profaneth the name of Heaven in secret, they punish him (i.e. he is punished) openly.' Cf. Luke xv. 18, 211.
In connexion with the phrase here employed, it may be remarked that the original Jewish sense of the expression, 'kingdom of heaven,' is the rule, or government, of heaven 2.
27. Daniel closes with a piece of practical advice addressed to the king. break off] R.V. marg. ‘Ör, redeem'; LXX., Theod., Xúτpwσal. The word (prak), meaning properly to tear away, is common in Aram. (both Targums and Syriac) in the derived sense of tearing away from servitude, death, or danger, i.e. of redeeming (e.g. Lev. xxv. 25, 2 Sam. iv. 9); and occurs twice in that sense in Heb. (Lam. v. 8, Ps. cxxxvi. 24); but though sins might of course be 'atoned for,' or 'expiated,' it is doubtful whether they could be spoken of as 'redeemed': and hence no doubt the word is used here in its more original sense of break off (cf. in Heb. Gen. xxvii. 40 of a yoke, Ex. xxxii. 23, 24), i.e. make a complete end of, cast absolutely away.
by righteousness] i.e. by righteous conduct: cf. Prov. x. 2, 'righteousness delivereth from death'; xvi. 6, 'by kindness and truth iniquity is cancelled.' 'Righteousness' (PTY) acquired, however, in late (postBibl.) Hebrew, as also in Aramaic (Targums, Talmud, Syriac), the special sense of alms or almsgiving: for instance Abhoth, v. 13 (Taylor 19), 'those who give zedākāh (i.e. alms)'; Jerus. Taanith, ii. 65 b, 'three things neutralize an evil fate, prayer, righteousness (almsgiving), and repentance.' Cf. Mt. vi. 1, where 'righteousness' (R.V.) is the true reading, and 'alms' (A. V.) the (correct) explanation, which has found its way into the textus receptus. In accordance with this usage, LXX. and Theod. (Xenμooúvais), Pesh., Vulg., express the same sense here; but, in view of the context, the limitation of 'righteousness' to such a special virtue cannot be said to be probable3. On the contrary, 'righteousness' in its widest sense, especially towards subjects and dependents, is in the O.T. one of the primary virtues of a ruler (2 Sam. viii. 15; Jer. xxii. 15, &c.), which Nebuchadnezzar, as the ideal despot, is naturally pictured as deficient in.
by shewing mercy to the poor] cf. Prov. xiv. 21, where the same two words occur in their Hebrew form.
if haply there may be a lengthening (vii. 12 Aram.) of thy prosperity]
1 See further examples in Dalman, Z.c., pp. 178-180; and cf. Schürer2, ii. 454. 2 Dalman, pp. 75-77.
3 LXX also render zedakah by 'alms' in Deut. vi. 25, xxiv. 13; Ps. xxiv. 5, xxxiii. 5, ciii. 6; Is. i. 27, xxviii. 17, lix. 16; Dan. ix. 16; and 'alms delivereth from death' in Tob. iv. 10, xii. 9, seems based upon Prov. x. 2, similarly interpreted.
All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the 28, 29 end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great 30 Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice 31 from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they 32 shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know
the last word being the subst. corresponding to the adj. rendered at ease or prosperous in v. 4. A.V. marg., and R.V. marg., ‘an healing of thy error' (so Ewald), implies changes of punctuation in the two substantives: 'arukhāh, 'healing,' Is. Iviii. 8 al. (lit. fresh flesh over a wound), for 'arkhāh, and shālūtkākh, 'thy error' (iii. 29, vi. 4) for shelwthākh. Theod. (ἴσως ἔσται μακρόθυμος τοῖς παραπτώμασίν σου δ Oeos), Vulg., Pesh., also, presuppose the same reading of the last word (though their renderings of the first word are inadmissible).
28-33. The fulfilment of the dream.
29. he was walking upon the royal palace of Babylon] 'upon' means on the roof of: cf. 2 Sam. xi. 2.
30. spake] answered (ii. 20).
great Babylon] Rev. xvi. 19 (in a figurative sense); cf. Jer. li. 58. I] The pronoun is emphatic.
for the house of the kingdom] for a royal dwelling-place (or residence).
honour] glory (as ii. 37).
The 'India House Inscription' of Nebuchadnezzar is a fine commentary on the words here put into the mouth of the great king: see the abstract of it given in the Introduction, p. xxiv f.
31. The divine rebuke alights immediately upon the king.
there fell a voice from heaven] such as was called by the later Jews a Bath Kol, lit. 'the daughter of a voice' (the accompanying verb being usually 'came forth'), the term applied by them to a divine voice unaccompanied by any visible manifestation. Cf. Apoc. of Baruch, xiii. 1, 'a voice came from heaven,' xxii. 1; and see further Weber, System der Altsynag. Theol. p. 187 f., Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, p. 167 f., Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, i. 286, and the particulars given in Hamburger's Real-Encyclop. für Bibel u. Talmud, vol. ii., s. v. BATHKOL. The voices from heaven in the N.T. (as Matth. iii. 17, xvii. 5; John xii. 28; Acts xi. 7, 9; Rev. x. 4) would all, in Jewish phraseology, be so described.
And thou shalt be driven...shalt be made to eat grass as oxen] The passives, as v. 25,—with which, indeed, except that one clause is omitted, the present verse agrees almost verbally.