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Daniel 2

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Nebuchadnezzar's Dream The King Questions His Soothsayers
2:1-13 2:1-11 2:1-3 2:1-4a
    2:4  
      2:4b-13
    2:5-6  
    2:7  
    2:8-9  
    2:10-11  
  2:12-16 2:12-13  
God Reveals Nebuchadnezzar's Dream   God Shows Daniel What the Dream Means Daniel Intervenes
2:14-23   2:14-15 2:14-23
    2:16-23  
  2:17-23    
Daniel Explains the Dream   Daniel Tells the King the Dream and Explains It  
2:24-35 2:24 2:24 2:24-28
  2:25-30 2:25  
    2:26  
    2:27-28  
    2:29-30 2:29-30
  2:31-35 2:31-35 2:31-36
2:36-45 2:36-45 2:36-45  
      2:37-45
Daniel and His Friends Promoted   The King Rewards Daniel The King's Profession of Faith
2:46-49 2:46-49 2:46-49 2:46-49

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Chapter two sets the stage for the interpretation of the second dream in chapter four and the visions of chapters 7-12 by the prophecy about four coming world empires.

1. Chapter 2 reveals that the Messianic kingdom will come in the time of the fourth world empire (Rome).

2. Chapter 7:2-8 describe all four coming kingdoms, but the emphasis of the chapter is on the fourth kingdom ("the little horn" = the Anti Christ, cf. II Thess. 2).

3. Chapter 8 focuses on the second (Persia) and third (Greece) kingdoms, but the emphasis is on the third kingdom ("little horn" = Antiochus IV Epiphanies, 175-163 b.c.).

4. Chapter 9:24-27 focuses in detail on the fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire (also possibly 11:36-45).

5. Chapter 10 introduces the message of chapters 11-12, which refers to the third kingdom, particularly the conflict between Babylon/Syria (Seleucids) and Egypt (Ptolomies).

 

B. The inter-relatedness of these chapters shows the unity of Daniel 1-6 and 7-12.

 

C. Daniel's gift of interpreting dreams and visions parallels Joseph's gift in Gen. 41. Many of the terms used are similar except Gen. 41 is Hebrew and Dan. 2:4-7:28 is Aramaic.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:1-3
 1Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. 2Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 3The king said to them, "I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream."

2:1 "in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar" Nebuchadnezzar began reigning in 605 b.c., so this would be 604 b.c. Apparently Daniel was still in his three year initial study (cf. 1:4-5), possibly this is why he was not with the group of wise men who the king initially addresses (cf. v. 2).

▣ "Nebuchadnezzar" See note at 1:1.

"had dreams" Notice that this is PLURAL and COGNATE, "he dreamed dreams." Some have asserted that he had several dreams, but the last one was awesome and frightening. However, it seems to me that the PLURAL may indicate that he had the same dream repeatedly. God is revealing Himself to a pagan Gentile ruler! Why? God is in control of all nations! God loves all nations! God plans to redeem all nations (cf. Gen. 3:15).

"and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him" From an old Babylonian omen text we find this quote, "if a man cannot remember the dream he saw, his god is mad at him." This same interpretation is picked up on in vv. 5 and 8 in the King James translation, which implies that Nebuchadnezzar forgot his dream, but it must remain a possibility that he was testing them (cf. v. 9).

The verb "was troubled" (BDB 821, KB 952, Hithpael IMPERFECT) is also used of Pharaoh (also note Isa. 19:3) in Gen. 41:8 (Niphal). There are many similarities between Joseph and Daniel's gifts and ministries.

The phrase "his sleep left him" is uncertain. The Masoretic Hebrew text printing implies that sleep came to him, not left him. The problem lies in how to translate a possible Aramaic idiom.

2:2 "the king gave orders to call in the" This is a series of wise men which imply that Nebuchadnezzar called in the entire group of those who claimed to know the will of the gods.

"magicians" This is from the Hebrew word "engraving tool." See note at 1:20. A good discussion of these different kinds of wise men is found in Robert B. Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament, pp. 296-302.

"the conjurers" See note at 1:20.

"sorcerers" The general term for "magic" in Hebrew is kšp (BDB 506).

1. male witch, wizard - kaššāp

2. sorcery - kešep

3. witchcraft - kešāpîm

These people tried to know and manipulate events by the use of natural and supernatural powers through physical means, divination, magic charms, and occult potions.

For a good general discussion of all the terms see New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol. 3, pp. 945-951.

"Chaldeans" This seems to refer to astrologers. However, the term in Gen. 11:28 has a racial connotation (cf. 1:4; II Kgs. 24:2; Jer. 35:11; and also in Assyrian documents relating to Nabopolassar). Some have dealt with this changing meaning by asserting a misunderstanding in the Sumerian root, "master-builders," instead of racial lineage. The fifth century b.c. historian, Herodotus, in his Persian Wars, mentions a class of priests whose origins went back to Cyrus' day.

Here and in v. 10 it occurs last in a list of wise men, but in 4:7; 5:7,11 it occurs within the list. It is obvious this term had several connotations (BDB 505). It seems to be a collective term for wise men (cf. v. 4).

2:3

NASB, NKJV"my spirit is anxious"
NRSV"my spirit is troubled"
TEV"I'm worried"
NJB"my mind is troubled"

This Hebrew term (BDB 821, KB 952) originally meant strike or hit. It is also used of Pharaoh in Gen. 41:8, who was disturbed by his dreams (both in Niphal).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:4-11
 4Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: "O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation." 5The king replied to the Chaldeans, "The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap. 6But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation." 7They answered a second time and said, "Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation." 8The king replied, "I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, 9that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation." 10The Chaldeans answered the king and said, "There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. 11Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh."

2:4-6 It may be that Nebuchadnezzar was going to test the interpretation of his wise men by also demanding that they reveal the contents of his dream first.

2:4 "in Aramaic" At this point the text of Daniel changes from Hebrew to Aramaic and will continue through chapter 7. Aramaic was the governmental and commercial language from the Assyrian to the Persian Empires. At this point in the text Daniel begins to quote Nebuchadnezzar's fearful command of judgment on the Chaldean wise men. Therefore, a change to Aramaic fits.

The problem is why it continues through chapter seven. H. C. Leupold even makes chapter 7 a part of the literary unit starting in chapter one. The truth is no one knows why Hebrew starts, Aramaic continues, and Hebrew concludes the book of Daniel. Some compare the structural pattern of Job (prose, poetry, prose) or Hammurabi's law code following the same pattern, but these are not in two languages, rather writing styles. Aramaic is a cognate Semitic language to Hebrew. Both are written in the same characters. It was known early in the Bible by its use in Gen. 31:47 (two words) and it appears as the language of diplomatic dialogue in II Kgs. 18:26. Imperial Aramaic was used from 600 to 330 b.c.

For a good discussion of the ancient use of Aramaic see R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 201-210,1125.

"O king, live forever" This was a common honorific idiom for addressing Near Eastern potentates, (cf. 3:9; 5:10; 6:6,21; I Kgs. 1:31; Neh. 2:3).

2:5

NASB"The command from me is firm"
KJV"The thing is gone from me"
NKJV"My decision is firm"
NRSV"This is a public decree"
TEV"I have made up my mind"
NJB"This is my firm resolve"

Nebuchadnezzar had fully made up his mind about this issue and made his decision public.

The KJV translation often is based on (1) a textual change in the Aramaic or (2) an opinion from Josephus (cf. Antiq. 10.10.3).

▣ "torn limb from limb" This was a common method of capital punishment in the ancient Near East. Whether they were cut (1) with a knife; (2) torn by means of bended trees; or (3) being tied between two or more animals is uncertain.

NASB"your houses shall be made a rubbish heap" 
NKJV"and your houses shall be made an ash heap"
NRSV"and your houses shall be laid in ruins"
TEV"and make your houses a pile of ruins"
NJB"and your houses turned into dunghills"

Some translations follow the rabbinical interpretation of the Targums, making this "dung-hill," (NJB, cf. II Kgs. 10:27). The reducing of criminals' homes and possessions to rubbish (cf. Ezra 6:11) was a common practice in the empires of the Fertile Crescent. To further humiliate these people, these rubbish heaps were often turned into public latrines (developed metaphorical usage from the Targums).

2:9 This verse implies that Nebuchadnezzar did not trust his own wise men. This may be because (1) their interpretation had been false in the past or (2) he saw true insight by means of the four Jewish youths (cf. 1:19-20, but this seems unlikely because of v. 13b). Whatever the reason this king is about to completely eliminate the entire group of wise men through violent means (cf. vv. 12-13).

2:10 "Chaldeans answered" There is a series of three alibis: (1) no man on earth can do this; (2) no king has ever asked this of the wise men before; and (3) only the gods can answer this question (cf. v. 11). This heightens the significance of Daniel's interpretation.

2:11 "difficult" This Hebrew term (BDB 1096) normally means "precious," "costly," "valued." It can mean "rare" (cf. KJV and marginal note in NASB).

However, in this text it has an unusual idiomatic meaning. The word can have a royal or kingly connotation which fits this context, but "difficult" is a most unusual translation. The Bible: An American Translation by Smith and Goodspeed, has "hard thing," while The Living Bible by Taylor, has "an impossible thing."

"flesh" This term (BDB 1088) is a metaphor for the transitoriness and frailty of human beings. Here it does not denote sinfulness, but weakness.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:12-13
 12Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.

2:12 "the king became indignant and very furious" The king's response to their alibi was extreme anger (BDB 1084). The second term, "very furious" (BDB 1111) is used of YHWH's wrath. He ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be killed. The term "Babylon" can refer (1) to the city; (2) the province; or (3) the whole empire.

Knowing how superstitious and fearful the ancient world was, it is amazing that a king would totally destroy all his diviners, astrologers, soothsayers, and wise men. In a sense he was cutting himself off from the spiritual realm. For some reason Nebuchadnezzar had lost all respect and confidence in his wise men.

Many times in Daniel the author uses hendiadys, where two words are given, but express the same idea:

1. 2:6, "gifts and a reward"

2. 2:12, "indignant and very furious"

3. 2:14, "with discretion and discernment"

4. 2:23, "wisdom and power"

5. 3:13, "rage and anger"

6. 4:2, "signs and wonders"

7. 5:11, "illumination, insight, and wisdom"

8. 5:18, "sovereignty, grandeur, glory, and majesty"

9. 5:19, "feared and troubled"

10. [also the last four paralleled phrases of v. 19])

 

2:13 "the decree went forth" It seems that the wise men were to be rounded up and killed at one public execution. This would give Daniel time to seek God.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:14-16
 14Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king's bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; 15he said to Arioch, the king's commander, "For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?" Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter. 16So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king.

2:14

NASB"discretion and discernment"
NKJV"counsel and wisdom"
NRSV"prudence and discretion"
TEV"choosing his words carefully"
NJB"shrewd and cautious words"

This kind of approach (BDB 1096, 1094) characterizes the way these four Hebrew youths dealt with Babylonian court intrigue and political pressure. God's wisdom enabled them to fit in, but also stand out!

▣ "Arioch" This proper name (BDB 1082) is also found in Gen. 14:19 as the name of one of the kings who took Lot captive.

▣ "the captain of the king's bodyguard" The term "bodyguard" (BDB 1094) is literally "the chief slaughter" (KB 368, possibly from butcher) or "executioner." In v. 15 he is called "the King's commander" (cf. II Kgs. 25:8,11).

2:15

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"urgent"
TEV, NJB"harsh"

This Aramaic word is used only here and in 3:22. Its basic meaning is "harshness" (BDB 1093), but it can mean suddenly or urgently (Davidson, Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, p. 272).

2:16 The king is more patient with Daniel's request for time than he was with the group of wise men's request (cf. v. 8).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:17-23
 17Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, 18so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven;
 20Daniel said,
 Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
 For wisdom and power belong to Him.
  21It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
 He removes kings and establishes kings;
 He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.
  22It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
 He knows what is in the darkness,
 And the light dwells with Him.
  23To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,
 For You have given me wisdom and power;
 Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You,
 For You have made known to us the king's matter."

2:17 Notice that the Hebrew names for these young men are used here (i.e. among themselves), while in v. 49 the new Babylonian names are used at court.

2:18

NASB"they might request compassion"
NKJV"they might seek mercies"
NRSV"seek mercy"
TEV"to pray. . .for mercy"
NJB"to beg. . .to show mercy"

Notice again YHWH is in control! These Hebrew youths have no power apart from Him.

The Aramaic term (BDB 1113) "compassion" is used only here. Its Hebrew parallel also means "compassion" or "mercy." They both come from the term "womb" denoting a mother's care, love, and protection. YHWH's love is often denoted as female (cf. Exod. 19:4; Deut. 32:11; Isa. 31:5; 40:31; 49:15; 66:9-13, also note Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34).

▣ "the God of heaven" Some see this as a common title for the high god in both Babylon and Persia. However, it is possible that it was used by the Jews to show the supremacy of YHWH (cf. Gen. 24:7; Ezra 1:2; 6:10; 7:12, 21: Neh. 1:5; 2:4). The exiled Jews often took the common title for the high god of their captors and applied it to YHWH. See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at Dan. 4:2.

"mystery" This Aramaic word (BDB 1112) , raz, means "to hide," "to keep a secret." It is used several times in Daniel (cf. 2:18,19,27,28,29,30,47; 4:9). It becomes a central theme in apocalyptic literature and is mentioned often in the Dead Sea Scrolls. God reveals His hidden counsel to His prophets (cf. Gen. 18:17; Jer. 23:18; Dan. 9:22; Amos 3:7).

In the Dead Sea Scroll community God's revelation was mediated through (1) the OT prophets' message (raz), but also (2) the interpretation (pesher) of "the teacher of righteousness." This two-fold pattern of revelation and interpretation characterizes apocalyptic literature.

2:19 "a night vision" There is a distinction between a "vision" and "dream" (cf. 1:17) in the OT, but not in Daniel. This revelation was at night (cf. 7:2,7,13), but Daniel was conscious and the revelation was visual and auditory. In context Nebuchadnezzar had the dream, but Daniel received the vision needed to interpret it. Both were from God.

This same term (BDB 1092) is often associated with God speaking to the prophets. Its root is "behold" and it became the earliest designation for prophets (i.e. seer, cf. II Sam. 24:11; II Kgs. 17:13; Amos 7:12; Micah 3:7; for a parallel term see I Sam. 9:9; Isa. 30:10).

Again the emphasis in on God's control, God's revelation, God's provision and protection (cf. vv. 20-23).

2:20 "the name of God" This phrase stands for the character of God. Verses 20-23 have been called Daniel's prayer of praise or the Song of Daniel.

2:20-23 Daniel seems to thank God for four major things: (1) God's control of history, (2) God's freely giving wisdom to the Hebrew exiles; (3) God's knowledge compared to the knowledge of Babylonian deities and wise men; and (4) God's consistency in His purpose with the Jews. These are the key theological issues of Daniel, which were so needed by an exiled, defeated, and humiliated covenant people.

It must be remembered that in the ancient world people fought under the protection and power of their god. If one people defeated another it was considered that one god triumphed over another. However, in the Bible it is stated again and again that Israel and Judah's judgment was due to their sin, not YHWH's impotence. Here in this passage Daniel asserts YHWH's power and control of nations and history, as well as His wisdom.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:24
 24Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and spoke to him as follows: "Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon! Take me into the king's presence, and I will declare the interpretation to the king."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:25-30
 25Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king's presence and spoke to him as follows: "I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!" 26The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, "Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?" 27Daniel answered before the king and said, "As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. 28However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed. 29As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place. 30But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind."

2:25 "Arioch. . .I have found" As all politicians, Arioch claimed credit for finding Daniel when, in reality, Daniel approached him (cf. 24).

▣ "among the exiles from Judah" All of the Babylonian wise men could not help, but a man from God's exiled people could! This is a way of magnifying YHWH. His people know because they know Him. Judah may seem small and insignificant, but its people are God's people. He has revealed Himself to them and now through them to Nebuchadnezzar.

2:27-30 Daniel disclaims any personal merit but gives the God of his fathers the credit for the revelation.

2:28 "He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days" Nebuchadnezzar is used in a symbolic way to represent human government (cf. verses 36-38). This same type of metaphor is found in Rev. 18 in the phrase "the whore of Babylon." Daniel, chapters 1 through 6, describes human governments, while chapters 7 through 12 discuss the coming of the kingdom of God.

Often the prophets spoke about the nations (e.g. Isa. 12-24; 46-47; Jer. 44-51; Ezek. 25-32), but not in the presence of the leaders of the nations (with the possible exception of Amos to the leaders of Israel). In a sense it is Daniel who addresses directly on God's behalf the pagan empires of the ancient Near East. This world order and God's purpose for creation are in opposition. God will judge the nations and fulfill His plan for creation. Daniel has a unique place in YHWH's dealing with pagan rulers and their kingdoms.

NASB, NKJV"in the latter days"
NRSV"at the end of days"
TEV"in the future"
NJB"in the final days"

The OT only saw one coming of the Messiah. This climactic event of history was preceded by major events known as the latter days.

However, with further revelation (i.e. NT), we realize that the term "latter days" often refers to the period between the incarnation of the Messiah at Bethlehem and His coming again in power and glory at His Second Coming (cf. Acts 2:17 quoting Joel 2:28-32). This is basically an overlapping of the two Jewish ages.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THIS AGE AND THE AGE TO COME

2:29 Predictive prophecy is one of the greatest evidences that the Bible really is the only inspired self-revelation of the one true God (cf. vv. 45,47). The Bible is the only world religion holy book that has predictive prophecy.

God is above time. All history is present before Him. He is not limited by past, present, and future time sequence. This foreknowledge does not remove human free will. We are responsible for our choices. The Bible does not teach determinism (Islam), but covenant!

2:30

NASB, NRSV"the thoughts of your mind"
NKJV"the thoughts of your heart"
TEV"the thoughts that have come to you"
NJB"your inmost thoughts"

The term "heart" is an OT way of referring to the entire person.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:31-35
 31"You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. 32The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth."

2:31-35 "a statue" This statue of a human male of differing metals represents fallen human world governments. Each one is inferior to the one before it (cf. v. 39).

2:31 The statue is described as:

1. "large" (BDB 1112) - used of the statue (2:31) and of the tree (4:7), even of honor (2:6) and gifts (2:48)

2. "of extraordinary splendor" (BDB 1096) - possibly refers to the brightness of the differing metals.

 

NASB, NKJV"awesome"
NRSV"frightening"
TEV"terrifying"
NJB"terrible to see"

This same term (BDB 1087) describes the fourth beast in Dan. 7:7.

2:33 "clay" This refers to baked clay ("potter's clay" or terra cotta), as do verses 34,35, first use in 41, 42, but verses 41 and 43 seem to mean wet clay ("miry clay").

2:34 "a stone" This is a metaphor for the Messiah. He is often spoken of in prophecy as a rock or stone.

SPECIAL TOPIC: CORNERSTONE

2:35 "were crushed" Although the stone cut out of the mountain without hands strikes only the fourth kingdom, all others are crushed to fine powder (BDB 1089 Peal PERFECT, cf. v. 45). This seems to symbolize the ultimate overthrow of human government and the establishment of God's universal reign.

▣ "became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" This may be (1) a play on the ancient Babylonian belief that the earth was a mountain or (2) a biblical metaphor for God's kingdom (cf. Isa. 2:2; Mic. 4:1). It surely does show a worldwide kingdom.

The "stone" in v. 34 is obviously a reference to the Messiah, but the use of the term in v. 35 refers to His kingdom (the church of the redeemed, cf. Rom. 9-11; Eph. 2:11-3:13). In Daniel there is often a fluidity between leaders and their kingdoms. The real interpretive issue is whether this relates to (1) the inauguration of the kingdom of God by the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus or (2) the consummation of the kingdom of God at Jesus' Second Coming. This unforeseen two-stage coming complicates OT prophecy.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:36-45
 36"This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king. 37You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; 38and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold. 39After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth. 40Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. 41In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. 42As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. 43And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery. 44In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. 45Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy."

2:37 "to whom the God of heaven has given" The VERB (BDB 1095) is a Peal PERFECT. Notice the continuing emphasis on God's sovereignty (cf. 1:2,9,17). He allows kings to rise and prosper (i.e. "the kingdom, the power, the strength, and the glory").

2:38 This description of Nebuchadnezzar's reign seems to mimic Gen. 1:28 (cf. Jer. 27:6; 28:14).

This verse reminds me of God's care for animals (cf. Jonah 4:11; Ps. 36:6c). Animals may be a part of the new creation (cf. Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25 and possibly Rom. 8:18-22).

▣ "You are the head of gold" The statue of four succeeding human empires mimics chapter seven. Here the first kingdom is specifically identified (neo-Babylon, 626-539 b.c.). In 8:20-21 the second (Medo-Persian, 539-333 b.c.) and third (Greece, 333-63 b.c.) are specifically identified. This makes the fourth kingdom (cf. v. 40) Rome, which was the Mediterranean government in control of Palestine at the time of the birth of Jesus.

2:39 "after you there will arise another kingdom" Apparently this was to ease Nebuchadnezzar's fear that his kingdom might be taken from him soon.

"which will rule over all the earth" This is either a metaphor for the known world or a specific local use of the word "earth" (as it is in Genesis 6-9, cf. Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, pp. 158-169).

2:40 "a fourth kingdom" This kingdom is described in 2:40-43; 7:7-8. It is never named as are the first three. In some ways it refers to Rome, but also to a type of worldwide human government, which is opposed to God. It has a historical reference (Rome) and a future reference (end-time anti-God world empire, cf. 9:25-27; 11:36-45).

This second chapter sets the literary stage for the whole book.

2:41 "it will be a divided kingdom" This refers to the fourth kingdom and seems to imply that these will be successive kingdoms. There has been much discussion about the meaning of it being divided (BDB 1108, Peal PASSIVE PARTICIPLE): (1) the Roman Empire would divide into the east and west; (2) it refers to the attempted political marriages with Germanic tribes (cf. v. 43 and TEV); or (3) it possibly refers to the distinction between the republic and later the dictatorship.

The toes of iron and clay mentioned in v. 42 may point toward the literary meaning of "divided." This empire will: (1) be strong in human power, but weak in spiritual power or (2) have both strong people (families) and weak people (families). This fundamental flaw will cause its destruction.

2:43

NASB"they will combine with one another in the seed of men"
NKJV"they will mingle with the seed of men"
NRSV"as they will mix with one another in marriage"
TEV"the rulers of that empire will try to unite their families by intermarriage"
NJB"the two will be mixed together in human seed"

This kingdom will attempt to save itself by human means (here probably political marriages, cf. 11:6).

2:44 "in the days of those kings" It is very important to realize that the coming of the Messiah will be during the fourth kingdom. This is why I believe that it refers to the incarnation of Jesus at Bethlehem during Roman occupation of Palestine; therefore, "those kings" would refer to Roman Caesars of the first century and not future kings.

"set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed" This phrase is not related to the millennium which is a specific period of time (cf. Rev. 20:1-6). This looks at a far wider scope of history in which the kingdom of God will be established when the Messiah will set up a perpetual, eternal kingdom (cf. II Sam. 7:13,16; Ps. 45:6; 89:36-37; Isa. 9:7; Dan. 4:3; 6:26; 7:14,18; Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:33; II Pet. 1:11; Rev. 11:15).

Notice how this kingdom is characterized.

1. set up by God (BDB 1110)

2. never be destroyed (BDB 1091)

3. not left for another people

4. crush (BDB 1089) and end (BDB 1104) all previous kingdoms

5. endure forever (BDB 1104)

This same powerful imagery describes this kingdom in 7:14,27.

2:45 "a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands" This may be a veiled allusion to the virgin birth of the Messiah (cf. Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14) and the incarnation at Bethlehem. Even the Jewish commentators Rashi and Eben-Ezra see this as a Messianic passage.

▣ "without hands" This is a metaphor of God's agency (cf. 8:25; Zech. 4:6). This is another way that God's control apart from human affect or agency is emphasized (cf. Heb. 11:10,16).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:2:46-49
 46Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. 47The king answered Daniel and said, "Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery." 48Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king's court.

2:46 King Nebuchadnezzar pays homage to Daniel as the representative of the God who has revealed this truth. This does not refer to the worship of Daniel or he would not have allowed it.

2:47 These very high-sounding words (cf. 3:28-29; 4:1-3,34-37) do not mean that Nebuchadnezzar II became a believer in YHWH. He was a polytheist who had no problem with adding other gods to his pantheon. He was still a worshiper of Marduk and Nebo. It is astonishing that he would allow YHWH, the national deity of the Hebrews to be characterized as the revealer of mysteries, for this was the function of Nebo in the Babylonian pantheon.

"God of gods and Lord of kings" As Daniel had described Nebuchadnezzar as "king of kings" (cf. v. 37), now he realizes that the God of Daniel (Judah) is the supreme Deity!

2:48 "Daniel was promoted" He became a governor of the province of Babylon and the head of the wise men.

NASB, NRSV"chief prefect"
NKJV"chief administrator"
TEV"the head"
NJB"head"

These two Aramaic terms (BDB 1112, 1104) usually denote governmental leadership (cf. 3:2,3,27; 6:8), but here they denote leadership over the guild of wise men.

2:49 "and Daniel made request of the king" Daniel did not forget his prayer partners and they, too, were put in places of authority. This distinction between Daniel's task and the other three Hebrew children sets the stage of Daniel 3 where Daniel apparently is not present.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Was Daniel violating his Jewish heritage by being apart of this group of wise men?

2. What specific things does Daniel praise God for in verses 20-23?

3. Why did God reveal this dream of four successive empires to Nebuchadnezzar?

4. How many kingdoms does Daniel mention and who are they?

5. Why is verse 44 so important in interpreting Daniel?

6. Who or what does the stone symbolize?