DANIEL - Chapter 2 Commentary

This chapter 2 is the first real test of Daniel with Nebuchadnezzar. First, Nebbie has a dream. This is a very troublesome dream. It is not really sure whether he forgot the dream or was in a test mode with his seers. At this time, he doesn't know about Daniel's abilities. He challenges the magicians, sorcerers, etc. for an interpretation. We have to understand that he expects them to get the answer for him or they will be killed. The problem was that he did not even tell them about what the dream was. He finds out about Daniel and he gives Daniel a chance. God reveals the dream to Daniel and he proceeds to tell the king. This was quite a help for Daniel to gain acceptance and confidence with Nebbie.

Nebuchadnezzar co-reigned with his father Nabopolassar for about two years. About 290 B.C., the priest and historian Berosus (supported by Josephus and Eusebius) wrote Nabopolassar was a very sickly person in his last years. He gave up some of the army and empire to Nebbie. Eventually Nebbie's father died and Nebuchadnezzar was full king. Remember Nebbie was sacking (plundering) cities, including Jerusalem BEFORE he was the only king in Babylon. During that time because he was "acting" king, he was also called king. He came back later to destroy Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Remember from Chapter 1 notes 1:1, the Babylonian and the Jewish regnal year reckoning was one year off. Therefore, this verse is saying this was his second year of being king by himself. This is therefore, the fourth year total of being considered a king, the fifth year for the Jews. This is also the fourth year of Daniel captivity. Since Daniel needed three years of "training", and since this was the fourth year of Nebbie, Daniel was in his fourth year of captivity. He is now going to be tested by Nebbie on all Daniel has learned.

Nebuchadnezzar has a dream. Scripture says he was very troubled. Some say he had forgotten the details. He only knew some general circumstances. He couldn't sleep. As you read on, see if you believe he forgot.

It was not unusual at all for a king to send for specialists to interpret their dreams. Therefore, Nebbie called in four separate groups: magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans. "Magicians" is a translation of chartummim (Heb.), referring to those involved in various kinds of divination. Originally an Egyptian word (Gen. 41:8, 24; Exod. 7:11), the term was used in Babylon of those skilled in dream interpretation. The use of idol gods were used to help. "Astrologers" translates from the Hebrew ashshaphim, known in Babylon as those skilled in performing incantations, especially for healing (a related word is translated "heal" in (2 Kings 5:3, 6). "Sorcerers" renders mekashshephim (Heb.), a more common word for those who used incantations in the practice of sorcery or witchcraft. "Chaldeans" translates kasdim (Heb.), the most distinguished priestly caste of wise men in Babylon They probably served as custodians of the mysteries of ancient Babylonian religion (see Dan. 1:4, note). In v.27, a fifth group, the "soothsayers" (gozrin, Aram.) is included. The five classes constituted a college of wisdom, and as such exercised considerable influence on the affairs of state. Daniel and his three friends had been thoroughly trained in the wisdom of all these groups. This makes the contrast between Daniel's religion of revelation and the ludicrous expressions of superstition in Babylon even more amazing. Daniel had obviously learned their ways and methods without gullibly accepting their doctrines.

This is the point in the book Daniel, in the original text, starts writing in Aramaic. Daniel starts the book in Hebrew. He then reverts back to Hebrew at the beginning of chapter 8. Aramaic was the common language of the Assyrian Empire and was used in both the neo-Babylonian and Persian empires as a diplomatic and commercial language. It is used appropriately in the Gentile related portion of the book.

The Chaldeans addressed Nebuchadnezzar in Aramaic. The specific mention of this fact serves notice that the next section of the book (2:4-7:28) will be written in Aramaic. The Chaldeans now give praises to the king. This was a very common gesture in the times of the kings. It showed dedication to the king. Also, the king was somewhat obligated to give a blessing to this "lowly person". The Chaldeans calmly tell the king they will interpret the dream.

The king demonstrated his unreasonableness by demanding that the wise men produce the content of the dream as well as its interpretation. If they were not successful, they would face execution for being fraudulent. It is possible that he probably suspected they were not too accurate. The command from the king was firm. It is uncertain whether of not the king had actually forgotten the dream or whether he was putting his wise men to the ultimate test. If seems unlikely he would test them. The text actually means in translations in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin to escape from or depart from the mind. Since Nebuchadnezzar was a very cruel person, it would not be past him to lie about not remembering. However, most scholars believe he actually forgot enough to be incapable of telling anyone the dream. It is very obvious he was being bothered by the dream. He asked them to recall the past in order to give credence to their predictions about the future. In one sense, this was a very unfair request. It fell outside the normal boundaries of predicting. However, in another sense, if the Chaldeans were actually telling the future accurately for kings by being able to contact the gods, then they should have been able to go to the past. After all, Daniel's God allowed it.

The KJV of the Bible says the Chaldeans would be cut to pieces. The more recent interpretations say they will be torn apart. For the purposes of knowing the outcome of the Chaldeans, it doesn't matter. However they were two distinct ways of killing used by kings in those days. The Bible tells of being cut apart in other places (1 Sam. 15:33). There were cases of the persons being pulled apart by animals.

The house being made rubbish, a latrine, or a dung heap was also common. This was punishment not only on the person but on the family of the person. This, obviously, was a sign of defilement and dishonor. (see also 2 Kings 10:27)

They would be rewarded if they were successful in the subject of the dream and the interpretation. This was also a promise the king could not reject later. If he said it, it was supposed to be so. However, he made it general enough not to get him in trouble later.

The Chaldeans now ask the king again to tell them the dream. Nebuchadnezzar now is saying he knows they are looking for time. However, what he says, he means. They have to tell Nebbie the dream. They were hoping with time Nebbie would reconsider and not be as violent. With some time, maybe the Chaldeans could come up with a story.

The Chaldeans are still trying to make the king understand that no one requests the subject of the dreams be prophesied. Also, it was unfair to ask. This was beyond man. The king was now really mad; and who wants to make Nebbie mad. The quarrel between the wise men of Babylon and the king (v. 12) concludes in a sovereign decree for the execution of ALL the wise men, despite the protest of the Chaldeans that no man could deliver both the content and the interpretation of the King's dream. This order of killing all wise men Babylon included Daniel and his friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) because at this time they were considered wise men. However, they were not there at the time. Therefore, their killing would be later. Remember, Daniel and his friends were "wise men". For years, Nebbie's best teachers had trained them in Babylon.

The captain of the king Arioch was ordered to find and kill the wise men. Apparently Daniel and Arioch, the captain of the king's bodyguards must have gotten along together. The only responsibility to tell Daniel anything was that Daniel and his friends were part of the subjects to be killed. Daniel asks for an opportunity to describe the dream and give an interpretation. Daniel asks for the opportunity. If he were successful, this would also save the lives of all the wise men.

It is important to know that one just did not go and talk to the king. They had to get permission to speak to the king. Otherwise, the person would be killed. In this case it appears Daniel asked Arioch to ask the king for time (v.24). Daniel was given time. He was given the time to "arrange" the prediction.

The book of Esther also shows the tremendous power the king had to kill when permission was not asked. Esther took her life into her hands (and she was the queen at that time) by go to speak to Ahasuerus about the plot to kill all the Jews. She got away with it. However, she did it because she knew the plot to kill the Jews was wrong and she was putting her life on it.

Daniel humbly prayed that God would let him know the king's dream and its meaning. Having committed himself to reveal the dream and its interpretation, Daniel called upon his companions to seek God's face in prayer. Notice Daniel refers to them in their Hebrew name, not the latest Babylonian names. For them, as for the Chaldeans, it was a matter of life and death, indicating that the Hebrews were numbered as part of this college of wisdom. Their plea with God was the peril they were in, i.e. their lives were on the line. The mercy for which Daniel and his fellows prayed was bestowed. Daniel was thankful to God for making known him that which saved the lives of himself and his fellows.

Their only hope was in God. The Chaldeans had already failed (their "gods" couldn't solve the problem. Daniel knew God could help if He chose to help. God answered Daniel in a night vision or appearance (chezu). There is no definite distinction between a night appearance and a dream. However, the words are different in the Bible. This is different than a dream (chalom).

These verses only give praise and glory to God for revealing the secret. In verse 21 Daniel says that God places kings in their positions. He also removes them in His time. God gives wisdom and knowledge. He reveals hidden things. He knows the dark and is the light. Praise be to God.

When Daniel told Arioch that Daniel could interpret the dream, Arioch told the king immediately. Arioch was the one responsible to kill the wise men. Therefore, if he lets the wise men live too long, he will be held responsible. However, this would be quite a good thing for Arioch to solve the king's problem. So he was trying to get the information to the king to get proper credit. Daniel also is making a deal that if he identifies and interprets the dream, the other wise men could live.

Daniel is asked whether he could do the dream. Daniel says that the wise men could not do it. God revealed the future to Nebuchadnezzar. The same God revealed through Daniel the dream and interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel demonstrates a thorough comprehension of the basic truths about god, as well as a willingness to ascribe all credit and glory for the dream and its interpretation to God. God's universal power, even over kings, and His faultless wisdom are attested in v.21. That God alone has light and understands things hidden from all men who are in darkness, is affirmed in v. 22. The true and living God whose dwelling is in the heavens is the One who made known the course of the nations until the last days of the king (v. 28). Daniel disclaimed any unique wisdom in the matter, explaining that the matter was revealed to the king by means of a faithful and sovereign God (v. 30)

The "latter" or "end" days refers depending on context to the time of the Messiah, the time of the second coming of the Messiah (end of known world), or just the future. By knowing what the interpretation is, since that is explained explicitly, this "latter" days is referring to the future. This explanation is specifically for this interpretation. Later on in chapter 9 when the 70 weeks is studied, there will be other interpretations.

These 5 verses tells Nebuchadnezzar the dream. The dream was of a gigantic statue. The head of the statue was made of gold. Its breast and arms were made of silver. Its belly and thighs were of bronze. The legs were made of iron. The feet and toes were partly iron and partly clay. A stone was cut out supernaturally (no hands) and crushed the feet. of iron and clay. Then the stone crushed the rest of the body thoroughly enough for the wind to blow away the residue. Then the stone became a mountain. That was quite a dream. However, it was the sign of the time to come, starting with Nebbie himself.

From verses 36 through 45, Daniel interprets the dream in some of the most awesome and accurate prophecy in the Bible. Verses 36-38 describe the gold head of the statue. The head represented the king Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian empire. Daniel says that God has allowed Nebbie to have all the power and glory he has. Since God gives or allows all power, though, that also means he can take or allow to be taken power.

After Nebuchadnezzar would come another kingdom less in power and control but strong. This kingdom was represented by the silver breast and arms. This second kingdom we will find out will be the Median-Persian empire under Cyrus. After this second kingdom would come another inferior third kingdom. This kingdom was represented by the belly and thighs of bronze (mixture of copper and other materials such as tin). This kingdom will be Alexander the Great and his four successors.

It is considered important to mention that the language of "after you there will be" does not necessarily mean immediately after you. The Median-Persian empire did not actually take over until years after Nebbie dies. Belshazzar (also called Nebuchadnezzar II), Nebbie's son, takes over. Then Evil-Merodach and Neriglissar have their turns. Darius actually takes over about 550 B.C.Then Cyrus overthrows Babylon. So the prediction of Daniel was accurate but not sequential. The problem with all predictions is the predictor may not know exactly what will happen. He tries to tell it as he knows it. History is left with the responsibility of the actual definition of what happens.

The fourth kingdom was represented by the legs of iron. This kingdom "of iron" would be strong and crushing in its awesome power. This represents the Roman empire.

The next portion of the dream interpreted was about the feet and ten toes made of clay and iron. These toes represented a kingdom divided into ten parts. The term clay is used specifically to denote there was no baking of firing of the material. This seems to indicate the basic parts of the statue were strong in iron. But in the interstices of the material a clay was there to weaken the entire structure. The mixture or iron and clay is a weaker overall kingdom because of the lack of ability of clay and iron to mix in a physically strong combination. The iron still represents the Roman empire but it becomes mixed with some barbaric empires that cause in-fighting and in-breeding that cause an overall weaker nation. Some portions of the ten parts would be brittle or non-mixing and therefore and be prone to fall apart. It is interesting to note in verse 43 the mixture of clay and iron also is significant in the terms of the mixing of the seed of men. Normally the Bible uses the word seed to refer to the descendents of people. Therefore, there would be a mixing of societies of the ten "toes".

Daniel now tells Nebuchadnezzar that the God of heaven was going to set up a kingdom that could not be destroyed. This is the kingdom of the Messiah, Christ the King. The stone in the dream refers to something great enough to crush and pulverize all the kingdoms so that it can be blown away. Some feel the "without hands" infers a supernatural dislodging or actual cutting of a small stone out of the mountain. Then it appears the stone somehow gets to the statue to do its crushing. The stone not being cut out by hands could simply mean that a stone may have broken loose from the mountain and rolled down and hit the statue. Of course, this is not to say God did not cause it that stone to roll. The stone becoming a mountain is a different matter. It appears this is an effect caused by some supernatural power. This kingdom will be set up over all peoples.

The terminology of "crushing" the kingdoms infers to some physical violent taking over similar to other kingdom conquering. In this case, the physical war and fighting is not meant. The idea is the kingdoms would cease to exist for various reasons. They would be removed and supplanted by Jesus' kingdom. Principles instead of the sword would conquer. Also, the beating or pulverizing of the kingdoms do not necessarily have to occur quickly or at the same time. It can be a gradual process.

Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed and thoroughly in awe that he threw himself onto the floor to worship Daniel. The word segid always refers to worship in a religious sense as to an idol. This was confirmed by the offering (minchah) being made and the incense. This offering is not to be confused with a bloody sacrifice. It is a gift or an offering. Although it is not stated in scripture, it is not appropriate for us to believe Daniel accepted this "worshipping". Being a believer in the one eternal God, he knew one did not worship anyone or anything (including angels) but God. This is very clear in Revelation when John bows down to an angel and the angel says to get up because no one deserves worship except God (Rev. 19:8-10). No one else deserves worship. Daniel could not really do anything about the king falling down before him. But he did not have to accept it. Remember, Daniel over and over again told the people over him that he had the one God. He had no special powers except what God Himself gave to Daniel. He even told Nebbie that the power to know and interpret the dream came from God, not himself. Daniel gets a promotion as a ruler over all Babylon and head of all the wise men. At this point in Daniel, the wise men are not going to argue with Nebbie or Daniel. After all, Daniel had just saved all their lives. He accepts this promotion. Daniel also requests that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego become administrators for the kingdom. This was all agreed upon by the king. Notice that at no time Nebbie never accepted a single God as Daniel's. However, he was willing to accept Daniel's God as being greater than any other god.

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