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that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and 33 giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' 34 feathers, and his nails like birds' claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lift up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and 35 his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his
33. The same hour] iii. 6.
the thing] or, the word, i.e. the announcement of vv. 31, 32. did eat...was wet] The tenses express what was habitual (cf. v. 12). till his hairs were grown, &c.] The delusion under which he was suffering leading him naturally to neglect his person.
34-37. At the end of the appointed time, Nebuchadnezzar's reason returned to him: he owned the sovereignty of the Most High, and was restored to his kingdom; and now, in thankful acknowledgement of His power, he issues his present proclamation.
34. the days] i.e. the seven 'times' of vv. 16, 23, 25, 32.
lift up mine eyes unto heaven] The mute, half-unconscious acknowledgement of the God who rules in heaven, was followed by the return of the king's human consciousness.
and I blessed, &c.] The king gave open and conscious expression to his gratitude, acknowledging and glorifying the power of the Most High.
him that liveth for ever] So xii. 7; cf. vi. 26.
and his kingdom (endureth) with generation and generation] v. 3. 35. are reputed as nothing] better, are as persons of no account (Bevan). The expression is in part, no doubt, suggested by Is. xl. 17 (where the verb rendered 'counted' is the same as that which in the partic. is here rendered 'reputed').
and he doeth &c.] He rules alike in heaven and earth.
the army of heaven] The Aram. equivalent (representing it also in the Targums) for the Heb. 'host of heaven' an expression which denotes sometimes the angels (1 Ki. xxii. 19; Neh. ix. 66), sometimes the stars (Deut. iv. 19, Jer. xxxiii. 22, al.; cf. Ñeh. ix. 6 a)1. Here angelic beings, as opposed to the 'inhabitants of the earth,' are doubtless meant: cf., for the general thoug Ps. ciii. 20.
stay his hand strike his hand, viz. for the purpose of arresting it.
1 See the art. HOST OF HEAVEN in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible.
hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same 36 time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellers and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgement: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
The same idiom occurs in the Targ. of Eccl. viii. 46 (perhaps borrowed from here); it occurs also in the Talm. more than once, in the sense of to forbid, and (with another word for strike) in Arabic as well. See Ges. Thes. p. 782; Levy, NHWB. iii. 72.
or say unto him, What hast thou done?] Cf. Is. xlv. 9; Job ix. 12; Eccl. viii. 4 b.
36. reason] The word is the same as that which in v. 34 is rendered understanding.
mine honour] my majesty (R.V.), as the word is rendered in A.V. in v. 30. In Heb. the word is regularly used of the majesty of a king (or of God), as Ps. xxi. 5, xxix. 4, xlv. 3, 4.
and my splendour] i.e. my royal state (cf. Ps. xxi. 6 Pesh. [for Heb. 77], 1 Chr. xxix. 25 Pesh. and Targ. [for Heb. 717]); though others, comparing v. 6, 9, 10, vii. 28, think the recovered brightness of the countenance to be meant. The 'glory' of Nebuchadnezzar's 'kingdom' had been impaired by his absence: it was restored when he reappeared in his usual place and resumed his former royal state.
my ministers (iii. 24, 27) and my lords sought unto me] They welcomed him back, and again consulted him on affairs of state.
excellent majesty] surpassing greatness. See on ii. 31; and, for 'greatness,' cf. v. 22, vii. 27 (A.V. in both greatness), v. 18, 19 (R.V. in both greatness).
37. Nebuchadnezzar's final doxology.
extol or exalt: Ps. xxx. 1, cxviii. 28, cxlv. 1, &c. truth.. judgement] cf. Ps. cxi. 7.
and those that walk in pride, &c.] Cf. Ez. xvii. 24; Ps. xviii. 27, lxxv. 7; also Prov. xvi. 18. Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that the humiliation which he has experienced is a punishment for his pride.
"The Bible always represents to us that pride and arrogant selfconfidence are an offence against God. The doom fell on Nebuchadnezzar while the haughty boast was still in the king's mouth. The suddenness of the nemesis of pride is closely paralleled by the scene in the Acts of the Apostles in which Herod Agrippa I. is represented as entering the theatre to receive the deputies of Tyre and Sidon"; and, in spite of the ominous warning, which according to the story in Josephus he had received just before, as accepting the blasphemous adulation of the multitude, and as being stricken immediately by a mortal illness (Acts XX. 20-23; Jos. Ant. XIV. viii. 2). "And something like this we see
again and again in what the late Bishop Thirlwall called the 'irony of history'-the cases in which men seem to have been elevated to the very summit of power only to heighten the dreadful precipice over which they immediately fell. He mentions the cases of Persia, which was on the verge of ruin when with lordly arrogance she dictated the peace of Antalcidas; of Boniface VIII., in the Jubilee of 1300, immediately preceding his deadly overthrow; and of Spain, under Philip II., struck down by the ruin of the Armada at the zenith of her wealth and pride. He might have added the instances of Ahab, Sennacherib [cf. Is. x. 12-19, 33-34], Nebuchadnezzar, and Herod Antipas, of Alexander the Great, and of Napoleon" (Farrar, p. 198 f.).
Additional Note on Nebuchadnezzar's madness.
The malady from which Nebuchadnezzar is represented as suffering agrees, as Dr Pusey has pointed out (p. 425 ff.), "with the description of a rare sort of disease, called Lycanthropy, from one form of it, of which our earliest notice is in a Greek medical writer of the 4th cent. A.D., in which the sufferer retains his consciousness in other respects, but imagines himself to be changed into some animal, and acts, up to a certain point, in conformity with that persuasion." Persons thus afflicted imagine themselves for instance to be dogs, wolves, lions, cats, cocks, or other animals, and cry or otherwise ehave themselves in the manner of these animals. Marcellus (4 cent. A.D.) says, "They who are seized by the kynanthropic or lykanthropic disease, in the month of February go forth by night, imitating in all things wolves or dogs, and until day especially live near tombs." Galen mentions the case of one who crowed, and flapped his arms, imagining himself to be a cock; and many similar cases are on record in modern times. Dr Pusey states that he found no notice of the exact form of the disease with which Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted (which would be Boanthropy); but there seems to be no intrinsic reason why an ox should not be the animal whose nature was thus assumed. A man who imagined himself to be an ox might naturally enough eat grass like an ox; but a perverted appetite, including, in particular, a desire to devour grass, leaves, twigs, &c., is also an independent characteristic of many forms of insanity. At the same time, persons suffering in these ways are often not entirely, or continuously, bereft of their reason; they are at times aware that they are not what they imagine themselves to be; and frequently (as visitors to lunatic asylums sometimes notice) make on many subjects acute and sensible remarks; so that there is no difficulty in supposing that Nebuchadnezzar could, as seems to be represented in v. 34, have recognized God in prayer even before his reason had wholly returned to him. Dr Pusey refers at some length to the case of Père Surin, who, in exorcising others, fell for many years into a strange malady, in which he believed himself to be possessed, and acted outwardly in the manner of a maniac, and yet remained fully conscious of religious verities, and was inwardly in perfect peace and communion with God.
If therefore it were clear that the narrative in Daniel was the work of a contemporary hand, there does not seem to be any sufficient reason why the account of Nebuchadnezzar's insanity should not be accepted as
historical: it is supported by physiological analogies; and the objections that it is not mentioned by other ancient writers, and that his empire would not have been preserved to him during such a long illness, are hardly of a nature to be conclusive; our records of his reign are imperfect1, and an arrangement may have been made by which the chief courtiers continued to rule in the king's name,—as in the similar cases of Charles VI. of France, Christian VII. of Denmark, George III. of England, and Otho of Bavaria, referred to by Dr Farrar (p. 201).
The question assumes, however, a different complexion, if it be true that the book is a work of the Maccabæan age. We then have no contemporary evidence for the fact; and it becomes an open question, whether it is more than a popular tradition which the writer has followed, and which he has adopted for the purpose of teaching one of the great lessons of his book. Some support is given to this opinion by the curious, though imperfect, parallel quoted by Eusebius (Praep. Evang. ix. 41) from the Assyrian history of Abydenus (prob. 2 cent. A.D.) :— "Megasthenes says that Nebuchadnezzar became stronger than Herakles, and made wars upon Libya and Iberia, and having conquered these countries settled a part of their inhabitants on the right of Pontus. After this, it is said by the Chaldæans, he ascended the roof of his palace, and being possessed by some god or other, cried aloud: 'O Babylonians, I, Nebuchadnezzar, announce to you beforehand the coming misfortune, which Bel my ancestor and the Queen Beltis are alike powerless to persuade the Fates to avert. A Persian mule [i.e. Cyrus] will come, having your own deities as his allies2, and will bring slavery. He who will help him in this undertaking will be Mēdēs3, the boast of Assyria. Would that, before my citizens were betrayed, some Charybdis or sea might receive him, and utterly extinguish him! or else that, betaking himself elsewhere, he might be driven through the desert, where is no city nor track of man, where wild beasts have their pasture, and birds do roam, and that among rocks and ravines he might wander alone! and that I, before he imagined this, might meet with some happier end!' Having uttered this prophecy, he forthwith disappeared; and Evilmaluruchus [Evil-merodach], his son, succeeded him on the throne."
Megasthenes was a contemporary of Seleucus Nicator (B.C. 312-280); but the statements about Nebuchadnezzar's prophecy are made on the authority of the 'Chaldaeans.' Prof. Bevan, following Prof. Schrader5,
1 The statement of Berosus (ap. Jos. c. Ap. i. 20) that 'falling into a sickness (eμneσwv eis aрpworíay), he ended his life,' is too vague to be regarded as confirmatory of the narrative in Daniel: Berosus uses almost the same expression (appwornoas) in speaking (ib. i. 19) of the death of Nabopolassar; besides, it is implied that from this sickness Nebuchadnezzar did not recover.
2 Cyrus, in his 'Cylinder-Inscription,' represents himself as led into Babylon by Merodach, the supreme god of Babylon (cf. the Introd. p. xxxi, bottom).
3 Schrader, following a conjecture of von Gutschmid's, reads 'the son of a Median woman,' i.e. Nabu-na'id, who certainly made himself unpopular by his neglect of the gods of Babylon, and may well have been regarded as in great measure responsible for its capture by Cyrus.
4 Used in the sense of Babylonia.
5 In his Essay on 'Nebuchadnezzar's Madness' in the Jahrbücher für Protest. Theol., 1881, p. 618 ff.
points out well the historical significance of the passage, and its bearing on the Biblical narrative. "Obscure as the passage is in some of its details, one part may be regarded as certain, viz. that we have here a popular legend of Babylonian origin, coloured of course by the Greek medium through which it has passed. The prophecy put into the mouth of Nebuchadnezzar evidently refers to the overthrow of the Babylonian empire by Cyrus, the 'mule.'...The resemblances between the narrative in Daniel and the Babylonian legend can hardly be accidental": in both the king is on the roof of the palace; in the one case a prophetic voice declares to him that he will be driven from men, and have his abode with the beasts of the field, in the other he invokes a similar fate upon his nation's foe. "But to suppose that either narrative has been directly borrowed from the other is impossible. It would appear that of the two, that in Abydenus is on the whole the more primitive. Its local character,"-notice, for instance, the interest evinced by it in the history of Babylon,-"is strongly marked; and it shews no signs of having been deliberately altered to serve a didactic purpose. In Daniel, on the other hand, we find a narrative which contains scarcely anything specifically Babylonian, but which is obviously intended to teach a moral lesson. It is therefore probable that some Babylonian legend on the subject of Nebuchadnezzar had, perhaps in a very distorted form, reached the ears of the author of Daniel, who adapted the story in order to make it a vehicle of religious instruction.”
While Belshazzar and his lords are at a feast, impiously drinking their wine from cups which had belonged once to the Temple at Jerusalem, the fingers of a man's hand appear writing upon the wall. The king, in alarm, summons his wise men to interpret what was written; but they are unable to do so (vv. 1-9). At the suggestion of the queen Daniel is called, who interprets the words to signify that the days of Belshazzar's kingdom are numbered, and that it is about to be given to the Medes and Persians (vv. 10—2 -28). Daniel is invested with purple and a chain of gold, and made one of the three chief ministers of the kingdom (v. 29). The same night Belshazzar is slain, and "Darius the Mede" receives the kingdom (vv. 30—31).
Nearly 70 years have elapsed since the events narrated in ch.i.; so that Daniel must now be pictured as an aged man, at least 80 years
On Belshazzar, see the Introduction. Nebuchadnezzar reigned from B.C. 604 to 561; and Babylon fell into the hands of Cyrus 23 years after his death, B.C. 538. The inscriptions have made it clear that Belshazzar was not king of Babylon, as he is here represented as being Nabu-na'id (who reigned for 17 years, from 555 to 538) was the last king of Babylon; Belshazzar is called regularly "the king's son," and he bore this title to the day of his death. For a series of years, during his father's reign, he is mentioned as being with the army in the country of Akkad (N. Babylonia). After Gubaru and Cyrus had entered Babylon, and governors had been established by them in the city, he is said (according to the most probable read