2. Nebuchadnezzar's Dream and Daniel's Interpretation (Daniel 2)


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William Brassey Hole (English artist, 1846-1917), detail from, 'Daniel Interprets the Dream of Nebuchadnezzar,' oil on canvas.
William Brassey Hole (English artist, 1846-1917), detail from, 'Daniel Interprets the Dream of Nebuchadnezzar,' oil on canvas.

Chapter 1 concludes with Daniel serving the king. Chapter 2 illustrates just how well he served him. It shows us wisdom, well-honed human relations skills, great courage, and a glimpse at Daniel as he begins to exercise the powerful prophetic gift bestowed upon him by God.

Nebuchadnezzar Requires Wise Men to Tell His Dream (2:1-13)

"1  In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 2  So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed." (2:1-2a)

The second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, according to the Babylonian system of reckoning, would begin March/April 603 BC.[28] So Nebuchadnezzar's dream would have occurred before Daniel and his friends had even completed their three-year training program as "wise men," which (presumably) began in 605 BC or a bit later.

As an absolute monarch, the king has many advisors or "wise men" at his command, categorized by their specialty -- though with some of these we're not quite sure exactly what is meant.

  • "Magicians" is ḥarṭōm, describes some variety of occultist in both Egypt and Babylon.[29]
  • "Enchanters" (NIV, NRSV, ESV), "astrologers" (KJV) is ʾashshāp, some variety of occultist.[30]
  • "Sorcerers" is the Piel of kāshap, "use witchcraft, practice sorcery."
  • "Astrologers" (NIV), Chaldeans (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is kaśdîm, either "Chaldean" by race, or as "learned," of the class of Magi.[31]

Most of these specialties would have been banned if this had taken place in Israel. The Law reads:

 "Let no one be found among you ... who practices divination[32], or sorcery[33], interprets omens[34], engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you." (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

The Israelites are to seek God for wisdom. One might ask concerning Daniel: What is a devout Hebrew young man doing in a place like this?

The Babylonians believed that what the gods planned in heaven was knowable by direct observation on earth. As Longman notes, the king's other advisors were diviners (bārû), not prophets or seers; they didn't receive revelation. The bārû was important in decision making at all levels, but especially for the king. No military campaign, building work, appointment of an official, or matters of the king's health would be undertaken without consulting the bārû or "observer."

Old Babylonian clay model of sheep liver (c. 1900-1600 BC), probably from Sippar, southern Iraq. British Museum.
Old Babylonian clay model of sheep liver (c. 1900-1600 BC), probably from Sippar, southern Iraq. British Museum.

To make a determination, the baru might resort to a variety of means.

Sheep lungs and livers. One of the most widespread means of prediction was the liver omen, in which a sheep was killed and its liver and lungs examined by a specialist priest, the bārû. He would ask a particular question and the answer would be supplied by the interpretation of individual markings or overall shape of the liver and lungs. One could then take steps to avoid danger. 

Abnormal births (šumma izbu) such as monstrous or multiple births of infants or animals were considered omens. Physionomical omens were derived from bodily characteristics, eccentricities, the color of hair or skin, location of moles, and mannerisms in speech or gait.

Astrology. Astrological omens were recorded on a series of seventy-seven tablets entitled Enūma-Anu-Enlil to be consulted for future events. The Babylonians were famed for their astrology.

Dreams sometimes came unsolicited, like Nebuchadnezzar's dream. At other times dreams may have been induced through incubation rites that involved sleeping in a sacred area with the intention of experiencing a divinely inspired dream, as did Solomon at Gibeon in 1 Kings 3. The Babylonians kept extensive dream books that would help with interpretations.

Daniel had been trained in this esoteric knowledge. But for seeing God's revelation, it was worthless. Isaiah commented:

"All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!
Let your astrologers come forward,
those stargazers who make predictions month by month,
Let them save you from what is coming upon you.
Surely they are like stubble;
the fire will burn them up.
They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame.
Here are no coals to warm anyone;
here is no fire to sit by." (Isaiah 47:13-14)

The King Demands Interpretation of His Dream (2:2b-4)

Wise men from all these specialties are summoned before Nebuchadnezzar.

"When they came in and stood before the king, 3  he said to them, 'I have had a dream[35] that troubles[36] me and I want to know what it means.'
4 "Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, 'O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.'" (2:2b-4)

Notice the mention of Aramaic in verse 4. From the middle of verse 4 through chapter 7, the Book of Daniel switches from Hebrew to Aramaic, the language commonly spoken in Babylon. Since Daniel is relating stories from the Babylonian court, it makes sense to relate them in Aramaic.

Nebuchadnezzar Demands to be Told What He Dreamed (2:5-13)

"5  The king replied to the astrologers, 'This is what I have firmly decided:[37] If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. 6  But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.'

7  Once more they replied, 'Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.'
8  Then the king answered, 'I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: 9  If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.'
10  The astrologers answered the king, 'There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11  What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.'" (2:7-11)

Nebuchadnezzar doesn't trust his advisors. They will tell him whatever seems best for them, and he knows it. But he wants to have assurance that they actually know what they are doing, so he demands that they tell him the dream he had dreamed.

They reply, "What the king asks is too difficult." Wrong! Don't say "no" to an angry king!

"12  This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13  So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death." (2:12-13)

Kill them all, the king commands in a rage! Even though Daniel and his friends may not have been officially in the ranks of the wise men yet, they are considered guilty by association, and an officer is sent to place them under arrest.

Daniel and His Friends Seek God (2:14-16)

"14  When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men[38] of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.[39]  15  He asked the king's officer, 'Why did the king issue such a harsh[40] decree?'
Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16  At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him." (2:14-16)

Notice Daniel's calm in the face of the king's rush to judgment. Choosing his words tactfully, Daniel asks Arioch why the king has made such a decree. Then Daniel apparently asks to see the king and is granted an audience, even though he is young and relatively inexperienced. Apparently, he promises the king that he will do as the king asks, but he needs time to seek his God. The king grants him some time.

Call for Urgent Prayer (2:17-18)

Now Daniel has to deliver on his promise.

"17  Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18  He urged them to plead[41] for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon." (2:17-18)

Daniel knows that the only thing that will save them is God's direct revelation, and so he and his friends call upon God with great urgency.

Q1. (Daniel 2:17-18) Why does Daniel ask his friends to "plead for mercy"? According to Scripture, is intercessory prayer important? Is it effective? How can we implement intercessory prayer in our churches?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/1559-q1-intercessory-prayer/

God Reveals to Daniel in a Dream (2:19-23)

God answers the prayer, and that night reveals both the dream and the interpretation to Daniel. So Daniel offers a wonderful psalm of praise to God.

"19  During the night the mystery[42] was revealed to Daniel in a vision[43]. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20  and said:

   'Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
   wisdom and power are his.
   21  He changes[44] times and seasons;
   he sets up kings and deposes them.
   He gives wisdom to the wise
   and knowledge to the discerning.
   22  He reveals deep and hidden things;
   he knows what lies in darkness,
   and light dwells with him.
   23  I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
   You have given me wisdom and power,
   you have made known to me what we asked of you,
   you have made known to us the dream[45] of the king.'" (2:19-23)

Daniel Seeks Audience with Nebuchadnezzar (2:24-28)

"24  Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, 'Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.'
25  Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, 'I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.'
26  The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), 'Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?'
27  Daniel replied, 'No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner[46] can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28  but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind[47] as you lay on your bed are these...." (2:24-28)

Daniel's humility before the king is clear. Though Arioch is quick to claim that he has found the dream interpreter (verse 25), Daniel takes no personal credit for the dream or its interpretation, but praises "God in heaven who reveals mysteries" (verse 27). Notice Daniel's humility! Daniel proceeds to tell the dream and its interpretation.

Q2. (Daniel 2:27-28) How does Daniel show humility in this situation? How does he use this situation as an opportunity to witness before the king to his faith in God? According to 1 Peter 5:5-6, should we try to exalt ourselves? If we do so, what will happen?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/1560-q2-humility/

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream (2:29-35)

"29  As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30  As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.

James J. Tissot, 'The Statue of Nebuchadnezzar' (1896-1903), The Jewish Museum, New York.
James J. Tissot, 'The Statue of Nebuchadnezzar' (1896-1903), The Jewish Museum, New York.

"31  You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue -- an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32  The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33  its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.

34  While you were watching, a rock[48] was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth." (2:31-35)

Daniel's Interpretation (2:36-45)

Daniel now reveals that the parts of the statue represent kingdoms or empires.

"36  This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37  You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38  in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

39  "After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40  Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron -- for iron breaks and smashes everything -- and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41  Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42  As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43  And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

44  In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.

45  This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands -- a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy." (2:36-45)

Identifying the Empires

God shows Daniel the identity of the first and last empires. The first is Babylon and the last is the Kingdom of God. However, the identity of the others is much less clear. As Goldingay says, "The unspecificity of Daniel 2 means that the four regimes can only be identified on grounds external to it."[49] Indeed, they have been linked to Nebuchadnezzar and his three Babylonian successors, with the rock being Cyrus (cf. Isaiah 45:1) -- and many other scenarios. Those who see Antiochus Epiphanes as the chief focus of Daniel's interpretations, see the sequence as Babylon, Media, Persia, with the fourth kingdom as Greece, the two legs as the main successors to Alexander the Great, the Seleucids and the Ptolemies.

Since the identity of these intervening kingdoms isn't the focus of Daniel's interpretation in chapter 2, we won't spend a lot of time on that here. However, so you don't die of anticipation, here is what I believe is a probable interpretation of these kingdoms.

If you assume that the four beasts of Daniel 7 correspond to the four parts to the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2 -- and that the ram and he-goat of Daniel 8 (identified as Medo-Persia and Greece respectively) are two of the four beasts, then you come up with the following sequence:

Chapter 2[50]

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Interpretation

Gold

Lion

 

Babylon (2:38)

Silver

Bear

Ram

Medo-Persia (8:20)

Bronze

Leopard

He-goat

Greece (8:21)

Iron/Clay

Indescribable Beast

 

(Rome)

Supernatural Stone

Heavenly Court

 

God's Kingdom

 We're given the identity of Medo-Persia in 8:20 as one of these primary empires. And Greece as another in 8:21. Thus I think a probable explanation of the four parts of the statue is: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (which, we know, followed Greece on the world stage and is alluded to in 11:18 and 11:30).

As I've indicated, the above interpretation requires us to make several assumptions that may or may not hold true, so it's important to be humble in our interpretations.

The Stone that Shatters Kingdoms (2:40, 44-45)

The focus of Daniel's interpretation, however, is not on the first three kingdoms, but the fourth, which is destroyed by the stone or rock that destroys it.

"40  Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron -- for iron breaks and smashes everything -- and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others....

44  In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up[51] a kingdom that will never be destroyed[52], nor will it be left to[53] another people. It will crush[54] all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45  This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands -- a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces." (2:40, 44-45)

This Rock, of course, is God himself. Many times in the Old Testament we see God as the protector of his people with metaphors of a Shield, Fortress, Hiding Place, Keeper, Refuge, Rock, Shade, Shelter, and Stronghold. In particular, God is seen as a great Rock in which to hide, a hiding place, and a shade. The caves of the rocks are places where David and his men sought safety when they were being hunted by King Saul and his armies. Yahweh is called a Rock many times in Scripture.[55] God's Messiah, Jesus Christ, is also given this title (1 Corinthians 10:4). He is the stone that the builders rejected (Matthew 21:42, referring to Isaiah 8:14), the stone that unbelievers will stumble over (Romans 9:32-33; 1 Peter 2:8).

 While we wait to discuss the intervening kingdoms in Daniel's prophecies, it's important for us to study this prophecy of the Kingdom of God. We learn several things from verse 44.

"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever." (2:44)

The coming Kingdom of God will be:

  1. Temporal. The Kingdom of God will be set up or established in history, in the time period of the kingdoms described in the dream's interpretation. Jesus declared, "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near." (Mark 1:15). Yes, it will be fully realized at Christ's coming, but it was established when he came to earth as Messiah.
  2. Divine. God will set it up, not man.
  3. Eternal. This kingdom will never be destroyed, or succeeded by another ("left to another people"), but will endure forever. Unlike all the kingdoms and empires that preceded it, it will not fall.
  4. Consuming. It will eventually crush all other kingdoms and bring them to an end.

These thoughts are echoed throughout messianic prophecies -- especially, the Son of Man prophecy in Daniel 7:

"[The Son of Man] was given authority, glory and sovereign power;
all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away,
and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:14)

Elsewhere we read:

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever;
his kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:32-33)

"Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet." (1 Corinthians 15:24-25)

 "The LORD said to me,
'You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." (Psalm 2:7-9, ESV)

It is clear that Jesus identified himself with this Kingdom. He says immediately after telling the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, a picture of Israel rejecting the Messiah:

"42  Jesus said to them, 'Have you never read in the scriptures:
    "The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
    this was the Lord's doing,
    and it is amazing in our eyes"? [quoting Psalm 118:22-23]
43  Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44  The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.'" (Matthew 21:42-44)

In Matthew 21:44, Jesus says that this rejected cornerstone will be both

  1. a stumbling block and
  2. a stone that will crush whomever it falls upon.

The "stumbling block" passage Jesus refers to is found in Isaiah:

"He will become a sanctuary,
a stone one strikes against;
for both houses of Israel he will become a rock one stumbles over --
a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem." (Isaiah 8:14)

The crushing stone Jesus refers to is clearly from our passage in Daniel, where the Kingdom of God is mentioned:

"40  Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom.... [that] will crush and break all the others.... 44  In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever." (4:40, 44)

Jesus himself is the Rock, the Divine Messiah, who at his Second Coming, will destroy all kingdoms and substitute his own:

"The seventh angel sounded his trumpet,
and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
'The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign for ever and ever.'" (Revelation 11:15)

"Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah." (Revelation 12:10a)

Q3. (Daniel 2:44) What does verse 44 teach us about the kingdom that the God of heaven will set up? What kingdom is this? When does this kingdom come? How is this related to Mark 1:15? When will it destroy all other kingdoms?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/1561-q3-indestructible-kingdom/

Nebuchadnezzar Honors Daniel (2:46-49)

King Nebuchadnezzar was overcome by Daniel's interpretation.

"46  Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47  The king said to Daniel, 'Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.'

48  Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. 49  Moreover, at Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court." (2:46-49)

Imagine an absolute monarch, a dictator, an emperor falling prostrate before a young foreign wise man!

Daniel becomes ruler over the province of Babylon -- though not the empire that extended far beyond Babylon. He also is placed in charge of all the wise men. And, at Daniel's request, Nebuchadnezzar appoints his Hebrew countrymen as administrators -- a position that gets them in trouble with jealous courtiers, as we'll see in Daniel 3.

Lessons for Disciples

Daniel 2 gives us important prophetic insights into the future. But there are also lessons that we can learn that will help us become better disciples:

  1. Revealing. God can reveal to his servants through the Holy Spirit things that are otherwise unknown (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). In the New Testament this shows up in the gifts of prophecy, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discernment of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:4-10). If God has given you one of these gifts, he can use you to serve the church. While the canon of Scripture is closed, God's ability to reveal things to his servants has not ended.
  2. Asking for intercessory prayer is shown us here. Daniel urged his Hebrew colleagues "to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery" (2:18) and God answered. We see this throughout Scripture. The Apostle Paul asks for prayer, believing that it will make a difference for the outcome of his ministry (Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). Paul himself intercedes for others (Colossians 2:1; 4:12). If your congregation doesn't have an intercessory prayer team to call on in times of need and crisis, perhaps it would be good to institute a team made up of faith-filled praying people.
  3. Seeking God under pressure is another admirable quality that Daniel displays. He doesn't panic when he is given a time limit to bring an interpretation. Rather, he asks for prayer, and then seeks God.
  4. Thanking. Daniel offers up a psalm of thanks to God for revealing what he did in answer to prayer (2:20-23). We may be good at thanking people who help with a church project, but are often negligent in thanking God for the results.
  5. Humbly witnessing. Daniel's response to Nebuchadnezzar shows no pride by gathering credit to himself for the interpretation of the dream. Rather he points to God as the source of the knowledge and witnesses to his God's power (2:28).
  6. Exalting the humble. Nebuchadnezzar promotes Daniel to a high position. This is an example of how God exalts the humble.

"Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5b; James 4:6; quoting Proverbs 3:34).

Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Available in book formats: paperback, Kindle, PDF

If we are willing to remain humble, God will exalt us in due time.

Daniel 2 has a lot in common with the experience of Joseph more than a thousand years before. Joseph finds himself in prison, but when he is able to interpret Pharaoh's dream, he is suddenly placed as second in command of all Egypt.

Praise God, that we serve the God of miracles, the God of the unexpected. Life is an adventure.

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for working through your servant Daniel. I ask you to put in each of us his example of faith and humility. I pray that you'll stir up in your churches the revelatory gifts once again, and show us how to use them responsibly. Help us to continually point to you as the source of anything good in us. Exalt Christ in our lives. In his holy name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"[Daniel] urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon." (Daniel 2:18, NIV)

"There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come." (Daniel 2:28a, NIV)

"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever." (Daniel 2:44, NIV)

Endnotes

[28] Baldwin, Daniel, p. 85.

[29] Robert L. Alden, ḥarṭōm, TWOT #738b.

[30] Robert L. Alden, ʾashshāp, TWOT #181.

[31] Kaśdîm, BDB 109, 2.

[32] "Divination" is qesem. Exactly what this involves isn't clear, but we see a hint in Ezekiel 21:21-23. Shaking or flinging down arrows, consulting seraphim, and hepatoscopy (looking at the liver) may be subcategories of qesem (Robert L. Alden, qesem, TWOT #2044a).

[33] "Sorcery" (NIV), "soothsayer" (NRSV), "tells fortunes" (ESV), "an observer of times" (KJV) is ʿānan. The exact practice is unclear, though many ideas have been suggested (Robert L. Alden, ʿānan, TWOT #1656). The word may indicate something to do with observing clouds. We're not sure.

[34] "Interprets omens" (NIV, ESV), "augur" (NRSV), "an enchanter" (KJV) is nāḥash, also unclear. It is associated with divination through a cup (Genesis 44:5, 15). "Because of the similarity of naḥash to nāḥāsh, meaning 'snake,' some make a connection to snake charming" (Robert L. Alden, nāḥash, TWOT #1348).

[35] "Dream" is ḥalôm, the only word for "dream" in the Old Testament, from the verb ḥālam, also used in this sentence ("to dream a dream") (TWOT #663a and #663).

[36] "Troubles me" (NIV), "my spirit is troubled" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is rûaḥ, "spirit, breath, wind" and the verb ʿam in the Niphal stem, "be disturbed" (BDB 823). Verse 1 has this in the Hithpael stem, with the meaning, "be disturbed."

[37] Some have followed the KJV in taking ʾazdāʾ in the sense "is gone from me," supposing that Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten his dream (so Baldwin, Daniel, p. 87-88.).  However, ʾazdāʾ seems to be a Persian loanword meaning "(the word = command is) promulgated (by me)" (Holladay, p. 396), that is, "firmly decided" (NIV), "a public decree" (NRSV), "is firm" (ESV), a Persian loanword (ʾazdāʾ, "sure, assured," BDB 107).

[38] "Wise men" is ḥakkîm, "wise men." Used mostly of the court astrologers in Daniel (TWOT #2729a).

[39] "Wisdom and tact" (NIV), "prudence and discretion" (NRSV, ESV), "counsel and wisdom" (KJV) are the two words, ʿēṭâ, "counsel," from ye'aṭ, "advise, take counsel" (TWOT #2272b); and ṭeʿēm, "understanding, good sense" (Holladay, p. 406).

[40] "Harsh" (NIV), "urgent" (NRSV, ESV), "hasty" (KJV) is Haphel participle of ḥaṣap, "show insolence, harshness" (BDB), "harsh, severe" (Holladay, p. 406). Baldwin (Daniel, p. 89) cites Charles, Daniel (1929), p. 35 to support the translation of hastiness.

[41] "Plead" (NIV), "seek" (NRSV, ESV), "desire" (KJV) is beʿâ, "ask, request" (BDB).

[42] "Mystery" (NIV, NRSV, ESV), "secret" (KJV) is rāz, "secret," a Persian loanword, translated in the Septuagint as mysterion (BDB).

[43] "Vision" is ḥezû, "vision, appearance," Used similarly to the Hebrew ḥizzāyôn. From ḥăzâ, "see, behold" (BDB).

[44] "Changes" is shenâ (Hafel stem), "change, alter" (BDB).

[45] "The dream of the king" (NIV), "what the king ordered" (NRSV), is literally, "the king's matter" (ESV, KJV), using the noun millâ, "word, utterance," or "thing, affair, matter" (BDB 110), from melal, "speak, say."

[46] Wise man (ḥakkîm), enchanter (ʾāshap), magician (ḥarṭōm), or diviner (gezar). "Diviner" (NIV, NRSV), "astrologer" (ESV), "soothsayer" (KJV) is gezar, "astrologers" or those who consult livers (Latin haruspices). Others: "exorcists" (Holladay, p. 401). Found in Daniel 2:27; 4:4; 5:7, 11.

[47] "Passed through your mind" (NIV) is more literally, "of your head" (NRSV, ESV, KJV).

[48] "Rock" (NIV), "stone" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is ʾeben, "stone." It is found in this sense in 2:34, 35, 45.

[49] Goldingay, Daniel, p. 41.

[50] Baldwin, Daniel, p. 161.

[51] "Set up" in 44a is the Hafel stem of qûm, means literally to set up an image (3:1ff), then figuratively to set up or establish kings (2:21) and kingdoms (2:44) (BDB). It is also used in 44b in the Peal stem with the meaning "endure, continue" (Holladay, p. 419).

[52] "Destroyed" is ḥabal in the Hithpael stem, "be destroyed" (BDB).

[53] "Left" is the Hithpael stem of shebaq, "leave, let alone," here, "be left" (BDB); "be left to, pass on to (of sovereignty)" (Holladay, p. 422).

[54] "Crush" (NIV, NRSV), "break in pieces" (ESV, KJV) is the Hafel stem of deqaq, "be shattered, fall to pieces" (BDB); "pulverize, crush" (Holladay, p. 403).

[55] God is called a Rock in 1 Samuel 2:2; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:31; 28:1; 62:2, 6, 7; 89:26; 94:22; 144:1; Isaiah 26:4; 44:8; 51:1.


Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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