|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 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. Again the Septuagint differs considerably from the received text, "And thus he said, Leave one root of it in the earth, in order that it may with the beasts of the earth browse in the mountains on grass like an ox." As the reading is the briefer, it is on the whole to be preferred, the more so that the belt of iron and brass is got rid cf. The Septuagint assumes that the work of demolishing the tree had gone on to some extent, and then the watcher intervenes to bring forward this limitation to the completeness of the destruction at first enjoined. Theodotion is in agreement with the Massoretic text, as also the Peshitta. Moses Stuart thinks the belt of iron and brass is represented as being put round the stump of the tree in order to prevent it cracking, and so rotting, in this following yon Langerke. Keil, with more justice, thinks that this is a transition from the symbol to the person symbolized; in this view he agrees with Hengstenberg, Kliefoth, Zockler, Behrmann, Hitzig, Ewald, Kranichfeld, and others. There is a further division of opinion as to whether it symbolizes the mental darkness Nebuchadnezzar will be under, or the limitation of his kingdom, or the fact that, as a maniac, he will be bound with fetters. The fact that, while commentators have devoted so much time to this, there is no reference to it in the interpretation, confirms us in our suspicion of the whole clause. The transition to the person, if barely doubtful in regard to the belt of iron and brass, is obvious in the remaining clauses in this verse. Every tree is wet with the dew of heaven - that would indicate neither degradation nor hardship; and the browsing with the boasts is impossible to a tree. The transition from thing to person is in perfect accordance with what every one has experienced in dreams.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Nevertheless, leave the stump of his roots in the earth,.... Let him not be utterly destroyed, or his life taken away; but let him continue in being; though in a forlorn condition, yet with hope of restoration; for a tree may be cut down to the stump, and yet revive again, Job 14:7 and let his kingdom remain:
even with a band of iron and brass; which some think was done to preserve it and to show that his kingdom remained firm and immovable; but that is meant by the former clause, Daniel 4:26, rather the allusion is to his distracted condition afterwards related; it being usual to bind madmen with chains of iron or brass, to keep them from hurting themselves and others, as in Mark 5:4,
in the tender grass of the field; where his dwelling should be, not in Babylon, and in his fine palace, living sumptuously as he now did; but in the field, grazing there like a beast, and like one that is feddered and confined to a certain place:
and let it be wet with the dew of heaven; suggesting that this would not only be his case in the daytime; but that he should lie all night in the field, and his body be wet all over with the dew that falls in the night, as if he had been dipped in a dyer's vat, as the word (m) signifies; and Jarchi says it has the signification of dipping; and not be in a stately chamber, and on a bed of down, but on a plot of grass, exposed to all the inclemencies of the air:
and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth; instead of feeding on royal dainties, as he had all his days, let him eat grass like the beasts of the field, as it seems he did.
(m) "tingatur", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster; "intingatur", Junius & Tremellius; "tingetur", Piscator, Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. stump—The kingdom is still reserved secure for him at last, as a tree stump secured by a hoop of brass and iron from being split by the sun's heat, in the hope of its growing again (Isa 11:1; compare Job 14:7-9). Barnes refers it to the chaining of the royal maniac.
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