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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - DANIEL 2
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    CHAPTER 2

    Da 2:1-49. NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM: DANIEL'S INTERPRETATION OF IT, AND ADVANCEMENT.

    1. second year of . . . Nebuchadnezzar-- Da 1:5 shows that "three years" had elapsed since Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem. The solution of this difficulty is: Nebuchadnezzar first ruled as subordinate to his father Nabopolassar, to which time the first chapter refers (Da 1:1); whereas "the second year" in the second chapter is dated from his sole sovereignty. The very difficulty is a proof of genuineness; all was clear to the writer and the original readers from their knowledge of the circumstances, and so he adds no explanation. A forger would not introduce difficulties; the author did not then see any difficulty in the case. Nebuchadnezzar is called "king" (Da 1:1), by anticipation. Before he left Judea, he became actual king by the death of his father, and the Jews always called him "king," as commander of the invading army.
    - dreams--It is significant that not to Daniel, but to the then world ruler, Nebuchadnezzar, the dream is vouchsafed. It was from the first of its representatives who had conquered the theocracy, that the world power was to learn its doom, as about to be in its turn subdued, and for ever by the kingdom of God. As this vision opens, so that in the seventh chapter developing the same truth more fully, closes the first part. Nebuchadnezzar, as vicegerent of God (Da 2:37; compare Jer 25:9; Eze 28:12-15; Isa 44:28; 45:1; Ro 13:1), is honored with the revelation in the form of a dream, the appropriate form to one outside the kingdom of God. So in the cases of Abimelech, Pharaoh, &c. (Ge 20:3; 41:1-7), especially as the heathen attached such importance to dreams. Still it is not he, but an Israelite, who interprets it. Heathendom is passive, Israel active, in divine things, so that the glory redounds to "the God of heaven."

    2. Chaldeans--here, a certain order of priest-magicians, who wore a peculiar dress, like that seen on the gods and deified men in the Assyrian sculptures. Probably they belonged exclusively to the Chaldeans, the original tribe of the Babylonian nation, just as the Magians were properly Medes.

    3. troubled to know the dream--He awoke in alarm, remembering that something solemn had been presented to him in a dream, without being able to recall the form in which it had clothed itself. His thoughts on the unprecedented greatness to which his power had attained (Da 2:29) made him anxious to know what the issue of all this should be. God meets this wish in the way most calculated to impress him.

    4. Here begins the Chaldee portion of Daniel, which continues to the end of the seventh chapter. In it the course, character, and crisis of the Gentile power are treated; whereas, in the other parts, which are in Hebrew, the things treated apply more particularly to the Jews and Jerusalem.
    - Syriac--the Aramean Chaldee, the vernacular tongue of the king and his court; the prophet, by mentioning it here, hints at the reason of his own adoption of it from this point.
    - live for ever--a formula in addressing kings, like our "Long live the king!" Compare 1Ki 1:31.

    5. The thing--that is, The dream, "is gone from me." GESENIUS translates, "The decree is gone forth from me," irrevocable (compare Isa 45:23); namely, that you shall be executed, if you do not tell both the dream and the interpretation. English Version is simpler, which supposes the king himself to have forgotten the dream. Pretenders to supernatural knowledge often bring on themselves their own punishment.
    - cut in pieces-- (1Sa 15:33).
    - houses . . . dunghill--rather, "a morass heap." The Babylonian houses were built of sun-dried bricks; when demolished, the rain dissolves the whole into a mass of mire, in the wet land, near the river [STUART]. As to the consistency of this cruel threat with Nebuchadnezzar's character, see Da 4:17, "basest of men"; Jer 39:5, 6; 52:9-11.

    6. rewards--literally, "presents poured out in lavish profusion."

    8. gain . . . time--literally, "buy." Compare Eph 5:16; Col 4:5, where the sense is somewhat different.
    - the thing is gone from me--(See on Da 2:5).

    9. one decree--There can be no second one reversing the first (Es 4:11).
    - corrupt--deceitful.
    - till the time be changed--till a new state of things arrive, either by my ceasing to trouble myself about the dream, or by a change of government (which perhaps the agitation caused by the dream made Nebuchadnezzar to forebode, and so to suspect the Chaldeans of plotting).
    - tell . . . dream, and I shall know . . . ye can show . . . interpretation--If ye cannot tell the past, a dream actually presented to me, how can ye know, and show, the future events prefigured in it?

    10. There is not a man . . . that can show--God makes the heathen out of their own mouth, condemn their impotent pretensions to supernatural knowledge, in order to bring out in brighter contrast His power to reveal secrets to His servants, though but "men upon the earth" (compare Da 2:22, 23).
    - therefore, &c.--that is, If such things could be done by men, other absolute princes would have required them from their magicians; as they have not, it is proof such things cannot be done and cannot be reasonably asked from us.

    11. gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh--answering to "no man upon the earth"; for there were, in their belief, "men in heaven," namely, men deified; for example, Nimrod. The supreme gods are referred to here, who alone, in the Chaldean view, could solve the difficulty, but who do not communicate with men. The inferior gods, intermediate between men and the supreme gods, are unable to solve it. Contrast with this heathen idea of the utter severance of God from man, Joh 1:14, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us"; Daniel was in this case made His representative.

    12, 13. Daniel and his companions do not seem to have been actually numbered among the Magi or Chaldeans, and so were not summoned before the king. Providence ordered it so that all mere human wisdom should be shown vain before His divine power, through His servant, was put forth. Da 2:24 shows that the decree for slaying the wise men had not been actually executed when Daniel interposed.

    14. captain of the king's guard--commanding the executioners (Margin; and Ge 37:36, Margin).

    15. Why is the decree so hasty--Why were not all of us consulted before the decree for the execution of all was issued?
    - the thing--the agitation of the king as to his dream, and his abortive consultation of the Chaldeans. It is plain from this that Daniel was till now ignorant of the whole matter.

    16. Daniel went in--perhaps not in person, but by the mediation of some courtier who had access to the king. His first direct interview seems to have been Da 2:25 [BARNES].
    - time--The king granted "time" to Daniel, though he would not do so to the Chaldeans because they betrayed their lying purpose by requiring him to tell the dream, which Daniel did not. Providence doubtless influenced his mind, already favorable (Da 1:19, 20), to show special favor to Daniel.

    17. Here appears the reason why Daniel sought "time" (Da 2:16), namely he wished to engage his friends to join him in prayer to God to reveal the dream to him.

    18. An illustration of the power of united prayer (Mt 18:19). The same instrumentality rescued Peter from his peril (Ac 12:5-12).

    19. revealed . . . in . . . night vision-- (Job 33:15, 16).

    20. answered--responded to God's goodness by praises.
    - name of God--God in His revelation of Himself by acts of love, "wisdom, and might" (Jer 32:19).

    21. changeth . . . times . . . seasons--"He herein gives a general preparatory intimation, that the dream of Nebuchadnezzar is concerning the changes and successions of kingdoms" [JEROME]. The "times" are the phases and periods of duration of empires (compare Da 7:25; 1Ch 12:32; 29:30); the "seasons" the fitting times for their culmination, decline, and fall (Ec 3:1; Ac 1:7; 1Th 5:1). The vicissitudes of states, with their times and seasons, are not regulated by chance or fate, as the heathen thought, but by God.
    - removed kings-- (Job 12:18; Ps 75:6, 7; Jer 27:5; compare 1Sa 2:7, 8).
    - giveth wisdom-- (1Ki 3:9-12; Jas 1:5).

    22. revealeth-- (Job 12:22). So spiritually (Eph 1:17, 18).
    - knoweth what is in . . . darkness-- (Ps 139:11, 12; Heb 4:13).
    - light . . . him-- (Jas 1:17; 1Jo 1:4). Apocalypse (or "revelation") signifies a divine, prophecy a human, activity. Compare 1Co 14:6, where the two are distinguished. The prophet is connected with the outer world, addressing to the congregation the words with which the Spirit of God supplies him; he speaks in the Spirit, but the apocalyptic seer is in the Spirit in his whole person (Re 1:10; 4:2). The form of the apocalyptic revelation (the very term meaning that the veil that hides the invisible world is taken off) is subjectively either the dream, or, higher, the vision. The interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream was a preparatory education to Daniel himself. By gradual steps, each revelation preparing him for the succeeding one, God fitted him for disclosures becoming more and more special. In the second and fourth chapters he is but an interpreter of Nebuchadnezzar's dreams; then he has a dream himself, but it is only a vision in a dream of the night (Da 7:1, 2); then follows a vision in a waking state (Da 8:1-3); lastly, in the two final revelations (Da 9:20; 10:4, 5) the ecstatic state is no longer needed. The progression in the form answers to the progression in the contents of his prophecy; at first general outlines, and these afterwards filled up with minute chronological and historical details, such as are not found in the Revelation of John, though, as became the New Testament, the form of revelation is the highest, namely, clear waking visions [AUBERLEN].

    23. thee . . . thee--He ascribes all the glory to God.
    - God of my fathers--Thou hast shown Thyself the same God of grace to me, a captive exile, as Thou didst to Israel of old and this on account of the covenant made with our "fathers" (Lu 1:54, 55; compare Ps 106:45).
    - given me wisdom and might--Thou being the fountain of both; referring to Da 2:20. Whatever wise ability I have to stay the execution of the king's cruel decree, is Thy gift.
    - me . . . we . . . us--The revelation was given to Daniel, as "me" implies; yet with just modesty he joins his friends with him; because it was to their joint prayers, and not to his individually, that he owed the revelation from God.
    - known . . . the king's matter--the very words in which the Chaldeans had denied the possibility of any man on earth telling the dream ("not a man upon the earth can show the king's matter," Da 2:10). Impostors are compelled by the God of truth to eat up their own words.

    24. Therefore--because of having received the divine communication.
    - bring me in before the king--implying that he had not previously been in person before the king (see on Da 2:16).

    25. I have found a man--Like all courtiers, in announcing agreeable tidings, he ascribes the merit of the discovery to himself [JEROME]. So far from it being a discrepancy, that he says nothing of the previous understanding between him and Daniel, or of Daniel's application to the king (Da 2:15, 16), it is just what we should expect. Arioch would not dare to tell an absolute despot that he had stayed the execution of his sanguinary decree, on his own responsibility; but would, in the first instance, secretly stay it until Daniel had got, by application from the king, the time required, without Arioch seeming to know of Daniel's application as the cause of the respite; then, when Daniel had received the revelation, Arioch would in trembling haste bring him in, as if then for the first time he had "found" him. The very difficulty when cleared up is a proof of genuineness, as it never would be introduced by a forger.

    27. cannot--Daniel, being learned in all the lore of the Chaldeans (Da 1:4), could authoritatively declare the impossibility of mere man solving the king's difficulty.
    - soothsayers--from a root, "to cut off"; referring to their cutting the heavens into divisions, and so guessing at men's destinies from the place of the stars at one's birth.

    28. God--in contrast to "the wise men," &c. (Da 2:27).
    - revealeth secrets-- (Am 3:7; 4:13). Compare Ge 41:45, Zaphnath-paaneah, "revealer of secrets," the title given to Joseph.
    - the latter days--literally, "in the after days" (Da 2:29); "hereafter" (Ge 49:1). It refers to the whole future, including the Messianic days, which is the final dispensation (Isa 2:2).
    - visions of thy head--conceptions formed in the brain.

    29. God met with a revelation Nebuchadnezzar, who had been meditating on the future destiny of his vast empire.

    30. not . . . for any wisdom that I have--not on account of any previous wisdom which I may have manifested (Da 1:17, 20). The specially-favored servants of God in all ages disclaim merit in themselves and ascribe all to the grace and power of God (Ge 41:16; Ac 3:12). The "as for me," disclaiming extraordinary merit, contrasts elegantly with "as for thee," whereby Daniel co

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