|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-18 The beginning and end of this chapter lead us to hope, that Nebuchadnezzar was a monument of the power of Divine grace, and of the riches of Divine mercy. After he was recovered from his madness, he told to distant places, and wrote down for future ages, how God had justly humbled and graciously restored him. When a sinner comes to himself, he will promote the welfare of others, by making known the wondrous mercy of God. Nebuchadnezzar, before he related the Divine judgments upon him for his pride, told the warnings he had in a dream or vision. The meaning was explained to him. The person signified, was to be put down from honour, and to be deprived of the use of his reason seven years. This is surely the sorest of all temporal judgments. Whatever outward affliction God is pleased to lay upon us, we have cause to bear it patiently, and to be thankful that he continues the use of our reason, and the peace of our consciences. Yet if the Lord should see fit by such means to keep a sinner from multiplying crimes, or a believer from dishonouring his name, even the dreadful prevention would be far preferable to the evil conduct. God has determined it, as a righteous Judge, and the angels in heaven applaud. Not that the great God needs the counsel or concurrence of the angels, but it denotes the solemnity of this sentence. The demand is by the word of the holy ones, God's suffering people: when the oppressed cry to God, he will hear. Let us diligently seek blessings which can never be taken from us, and especially beware of pride and forgetfulness of God.
Verse 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. This verse is transposed in the Septuagint with the following verse, and is rendered, "And its appearance (ὅρασις) was great, and its top approached to the heavens, and its breadth (κύτος, equivalent to 'branches') filled (πληροῦν) to the clouds all things beneath the heaven and the sun and the moon were, and dwelt in it, and enlightened all the earth." The addition in the last clause is a singular and picturesque one to one standing beneath a spreading tree; sun and moon might pierce with their rays through some thin points in the foliage, but they would seem never to get beyond the widespread branches of the tree, and therefore it would be but a poetical mode of statement to say, "the sun and moon dwelt amid the branches." At the same time, it is not impossible that there was some astronomical legend of the sun and moon and the tree of life. If this proclamation was originally written in cuneiform, there might easily be some difficulty at times in deciphering and fixing in which of a dozen possible senses a given word must be taken. The variation is beyond the region of mere ordinary blundering in Aramaic. On the other hand, it seems too picturesque for the work of a commonplace interpolator. Theodotion in the main agrees with the Massoretic, but instead of "sight thereof," he has "breadth (κότος) thereof," reading some such word as path-ootheh instead of hazotheh. The Peshitta is in close agreement with the received text. To those who, like the Babylonian, believed the earth to he a vast plain, it was not inconceivable that a tree should be so high as to be seen over the whole earth. It is a very suitable symbol of a great world-empire. At the same time, we must remember that the great variation in this verse in the Septuagint makes its authenticity somewhat doubtful.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The tree grew, and was strong,.... Grew higher and broader, taller and thicker, increased in boughs and branches, and became strong and stable, that no winds nor storms could move it: this shows the increasing power of Nebuchadnezzar, the enlargement of his dominions, and the stability of his empire:
and the height thereof reached unto heaven; higher than any on earth; expressive of his dominion over all nations and people of the earth; or of his ambition of deity itself; and so Saadiah illustrates it by Isaiah 14:14. "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds &c.":
and the sight thereof to the end of the earth: being so high, it was seen afar off; the fame of this great monarch reached to the ends of the earth; the eyes of all were turned to him; some looking upon him with wonder, others with envy.
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