Daniel 4
Nebuchadnezzar Tells His Story

God sent the king of Babylon a debasing experience to help him learn humility. He became like a wild animal and later regained his senses. Upon being restored to his sovereignty, he published his story praising God. How many world political leaders today would admit their weakness and glorify God?
 
 

Text Comments
 1 ¶ Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
 2  I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
 3  How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
  1 - Nebuchadnezzar Author of this chapter. Although we would not see Nebuchadnezzar as a prophet of God, the Holy Spirit has directed the inclusion of this official government communiqué with the writings of Daniel. Job's professed friends are similarly not inspired although their speeches are recorded jb3802. This does not question the inspiration of the Scriptures since the quoted writers are not presented as messengers from God. Also jon0305.
   2 - Signs and wonders This pair of words occurs some 29 times in the Bible. This commentary takes a "sign" to be a symbolic manifestation possibly expressing future events, and a "wonder" to be a miraculous display of God's power. In this chapter we see the dream as "signs" and God's hand in dealing with Nebuchadnezzar as "wonders." de0620.
   3 - Everlasting kingdom In the previous chapter we saw how Nebuchadnezzar had planned his own everlasting kingdom. da03. Also ps09001.
 4 ¶ I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:
 5  I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
 6  Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
.7  Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
 8  But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,
   6 - Decree to ... wise men This reminds us of the dream the king forgot da02.
   8 - At the last Daniel Perhaps Neb called the other professional wise men first because he expected that they would fail and wanted to reduce their jealousy.
   8 - Whose name Insight into the naming process. Note that the king used the prophet's Hebrew name first and notice how he respected him. A challenge for us. (More comments with verse 9).
   8 - Wise men fail Jeremiah had prophesied this. je0809
   8 - Told the dream God didn't need to repeat the earlier lesson of withholding the dream from the king's memory da0205.
9  O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
.10  Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
 11  The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
 12  The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
God had given this king serious responsibilities.
   9 - Belteshazzar (Not Belshazzar) This name which Nebuchadnezzar gave to Daniel is clearly of pagan origin. At the same time, Neb recognized Daniel's connection with the "holy gods" v8.
   Daniel's acceptance of this name from the king gives us guidance in relating to holidays with pagan origins like Christmas and Easter. Daniel obviously did not practice paganism but he respected the king's viewpoint and this letter from the king is included in his book. We may join others in remembering our Lord's birth and resurrection without seeing the holidays as requirements for worship which God has not ordained.
.13  I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
 14  He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
15  Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
.16  Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.

   13 - Watcher We all would be blessed and protected from temptation if we could remember that God knows all ps13907, and that we are in the presence of holy angels unless we reject them by our behavior. We see the Watcher in Jeremiah je4427.
   13 - And a holy one In chapter 7 we see the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man Father and Son. We may see the same two here da0713 with the watcher and the holy one.
   16 - Heart be changed It is restored at v34.
   16 - Times A "time"  may logically be thought of as a year considering that a year is a natural time unit the longest one. It is a full cycle of seasons.  At da0725, we see this term as a symbol for a year of prophetic days, or 360 literal years.  Here, however, it is literal since Nebuchadnezzar would not have been living as an animal for 7 X 360 years.  We must ask, in reading the text what the Holy Spirit is communicating.  Before assigning a secondary application beyond the clear contemporary meaning, we must insist on indication from the text, and other passages that amplify it, that a further symbolic interpretation was intended.
.17  This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
.18  This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
  17 - Gives it da0221.
  18 - The wise men can't This acknowledgment was at a critical point where many fail. Neb could have refused light from heaven lu1021.
 19 ¶ Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
.20  The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
 21  Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
 22  It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
.23  And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him;

 20 - Unto heaven In da0810 we see the horn power reaching to heaven and in defiance of the prince of the host. Also see re1805. ez3110.
  23 - Leave the stump Thought from Job. jb1407.
  23 - Seven times We interpret this as seven yearly cycles or seven years. This also harmonizes the 3½ times (years of 360 days) with the 1260 days and the 42 weeks which describe the same period of persecution and spiritual darkness. re1305.
   23 - Band Two elements of Nebuchadnezzar were preserved for later restoration, his intelligence and his kingdom. Perhaps the iron and brass represent them. The band is not mentioned in the LXX (Septuagint, translation into Greek. This is not unusual because large portions of the Hebrew text were omitted).
  Iron and brass [literally "bronze"] were the metals of the two bands. They were the 4th and the 3rd metals in the dream Nebuchadnezzar forgot. They are also the metals of the beast in 7:19.
 24  This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
 25  That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
 26  And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
 27  Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Much of the interpretation repeats the description of the dream above, Comments would be similar.

   27 - Break off thy sins A divine command. "God's judgments against men may be avefted by repentance and conversion (is3801-5, je1807, jonah0301-10). For this reason God announced the impending judgment upon Nebuchadnezzar but gave him a full year in which to repent, and thsu avert the threatened calamity da0429. However the king did not change his way of life, and accordingly brought upon himself the execution of the judgment." Compare the story of Nineveh. They had only 40 days and repented."
   27 - Mercy to the poor Giving to others tends to be an index to character. A wealthy young Jewish ruler thought he kept the commandments perfectly but turned away at the idea of giving what he had to the poor mt1916-21.

.28 ¶ All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
.29  At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
.30  The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
 31  While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.

   30 - Great Babylon ... my power This concept helps us understand symbolic Babylon in Revelation. It is called "Babylon the great." pr1618, re1408b.

 32  And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
 33  The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.
   32 - With the beasts This particular punishment was God's response to pride.  Nebuchadnezzar had not learned his lesson on the Plain of Dura da03. In seeing how the God of heaven led Nebuchadnezzar in his three major experiences, we may understand His patience with all of us.
.34 ¶ And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:    Understanding returned He had been given the heart of a beast v16. Here the man's heart was restored.
   Heaven More than the sky here.
   Everlasting dominion God's kingdom follows the dynasty of David and Solomon which are used in a symbolic sense just as Jerusalem is the historic anchor for the New Jerusalem lu0132.
.35  And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
 36  At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
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.37  Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.    37 - Praise ... King of heaven Spiritual as well as intellectual and political restoration. Compare da0704.
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