Daniel 2:37
Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
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(37, 38) Interpretation of the vision. Nebuchadnezzar is the head; or, in other words, he is the first of the four kingdoms which are denoted by the image. His kingdom was the largest that the world had till then known; in fact, a writer cited by Josephus (Ap. i. 20), compares him to Hercules. We find a similar allusion to the beasts of the field as Nebuchadnezzar’s servants Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 28:14. The title of “king of kings” is also ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 26:7). We are therefore left in no doubt as to what is meant by the first of the four empires. It is the Babylonian Empire, of which Nebuchadnezzar was in every sense the head, being the actual founder of it, and its mainstay during his long reign of forty-three years.

2:31-45 This image represented the kingdoms of the earth, that should successively rule the nations, and influence the affairs of the Jewish church. 1. The head of gold signified the Chaldean empire, then in being. 2. The breast and arms of silver signified the empire of the Medes and Persians. 3. The belly and thighs of brass signified the Grecian empire, founded by Alexander. 4. The legs and feet of iron signified the Roman empire. The Roman empire branched into ten kingdoms, as the toes of these feet. Some were weak as clay, others strong as iron. Endeavours have often been used to unite them, for strengthening the empire, but in vain. The stone cut out without hands, represented the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, which should be set up in the kingdoms of the world, upon the ruins of Satan's kingdom in them. This was the Stone which the builders refused, because it was not cut out by their hands, but it is become the head stone of the corner. Of the increase of Christ's government and peace there shall be no end. The Lord shall reign, not only to the end of time, but when time and days shall be no more. As far as events have gone, the fulfilling this prophetic vision has been most exact and undeniable; future ages shall witness this Stone destroying the image, and filling the whole earth.Thou, O King, art a king of kings - The phrase "king of kings" is a Hebraism, to denote a supreme monarch, or one who has other kings under him as tributary, Ezra 7:12; Ezekiel 26:7. As such it is applied by way of eminence to the Son of God, in Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16. As here used, it means that Nebuchadnezzar ruled over tributary kings and princes, or that he was the most eminent of the kings of the earth. The scepter which he swayed was, in fact, extended over many nations that were once independent kingdoms, and the title here conferred on him was not one that was designed to flatter the monarch, but was a simple statement of what was an undoubted truth. Daniel would not withhold any title that was in accordance with reality, as he did not withhold any communication in accordance with reality that was adapted to humble the monarch.

For the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom ... - At the same time that Daniel gave him a title which might in itself have ministered to the pride of the monarch, he is careful to remind him that he held this title in virtue of no wisdom or power of his own. It was the true God who had conferred on him the sovereignty of these extensive realms, and it was one of the designs of this vision to show him that he held his power at his will, and that at his pleasure he could cause it to pass away. It was the forgetfulness of this, and the pride resulting from that forgetfulness, which led to the melancholy calamity which befel this haughty monarch, as recorded in Daniel 4.

37. Thou … art a king of kings—The committal of power in fullest plenitude belongs to Nebuchadnezzar personally, as having made Babylon the mighty empire it was. In twenty-three years after him the empire was ended: with him its greatness is identified (Da 4:30), his successors having done nothing notable. Not that he actually ruled every part of the globe, but that God granted him illimitable dominion in whatever direction his ambition led him, Egypt, Nineveh, Arabia, Syria, Tyre, and its Phœnician colonies (Jer 27:5-8). Compare as to Cyrus, Ezr 1:2. A king of kings; he means Nebuchadnezzar in person, together with his successors, Evil-merodach and Belshazzar. The prophet would not mind the king of any thing past, nor of any other governments but those with whom his church were then and to be concerned for the future, till the coming of the Messiah, by whose coming they should support and comfort themselves against all their sufferings by oppressors; and also God would have the prophet mind Nebuchadnezzar of the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, growing and breaking in pieces all earthly power.

The God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom; it came not to thee by thy ancestors, or by fortune, or by thy valour, but the great God of heaven hath the bestowing of those, and giveth them to whomsoever he will.

Power, and strength, and glory; authority; victorious armies, with great prosperity.

Thou, O king, art a king of kings,.... Having many kings subject and tributary to him, or would have; as the kings of Judah, Ammon, Moab, and others, and who were even his captives and prisoners; see Jeremiah 52:32. Jarchi and Saadiah join this with the next clause, "the God of heaven", and interpret it of him thus, thou, O King Nebuchadnezzar, "the King of kings, who is the God of heaven, hath given unto thee", &c.; so some in the Talmud understand it of God (k); but this is contrary to the accents:

for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory; that is, a very powerful, strong, and glorious kingdom, famous for its mighty armies, strong fortresses, and great riches, from all which the king had great honour and glory; and this he had not by his ancestors, or his own military skill and prowess, but by the favour and gift of God.

(k) T. Bab. Shebuot, fol. 35. 2.

Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
37. a king of kings] king of kings,—a title applied to Nebuchadnezzar in Ezekiel 26:7, though (Prince) not the customary Babylonian form of address. It is, however, one that was borne constantly by the Persian kings: cf. Ezra 7:12; and see the series of inscriptions of Persian kings, published in Records of the Past, 1st ser., i. iii ff., v. 151 ff., ix. 65 ff. An Aramaic inscription found at Saqqarah, near Cairo, is dated in the 4th year of “Xerxes, king of kings

for, &c.] unto whom the God of heaven (Daniel 2:19) hath given the kingdom, the power, the strength, and the glory. Daniel ascribes Nebuchadnezzar’s dominion to the Providence of God, exactly as is done (in other terms) by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 28:14).

Verse 37. - Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. The Septuagint renders the latter clause, "To thee the Lord of heaven gave the dominion, and the kingdom, and the might, and the honor, and the glory in all the earth (ἐν πάσῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ)." There appears here to be two cases of doublet; ἀρχὴ and βασιλεία are probably originally alternative renderings of malcutha, and τιμὴ and δόξα double renderings of yiqara. On this hypothesis there is only one Greek word for two Aramaic. We shall consider this later. Paulus Tellensis, in his translation of the Septuagint Version, draws the beginning of the next verse into connection with the final words of this verse as given here. The words, "in the whole earth," is a transference from the next verse. The rendering of Theodotion is, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings, to whom the God of heaven gave a strong and mighty and honourable kingdom," making thus hisna, toqpa, and yiqara adjectives of malcut a. But malcutha is feminine, and, if adjectives. hisna, etc., are masculine. The Peshitta differs from the Massoretic in leaving out one of the terms, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings; God most high (merima) a strong kingdom and glory has given to thee." Of course, the same objection holds to some extent against this version as against that of Theodotion, but it is to be noted that there are not two words conveying the same idea of strength. As there was only one in the Septuagint, we are inclined to think that toqpi must have been an addition. Jerome's rendering is, "Thou art a king of kings, and the God of heaven has given to thee the kingdom, and might, and dominion, and glory." There seems to be a transposition here. The general scope of this verse and the next is given in Jeremiah 27:5, 6. There is certainly high honour given to Nebuchadnezzar in this address, but, at the same time, he is warned that all his glory is bestowed upon him by the God of heaven. It is possible that Nebuchadnezzar interpreted the words as referring to Merodach, the god whom he specially worshipped, or regarded the God of heaven as only another of the gods many and lords many which, as a polytheist, he acknowledged. The title of the Babylonian king was shar-sharani," king of kings," and sharru-rabbu, "great king." Thus in this address the technical title is given him. The Babylonian monarchs assumed this from their Assyrian predecessors, as e.g. Asshurbanipal (Smith, 'History,' pp. 26, 73, 196). From the Babylonians it was passed on to the Persian monarchs. In Ezekiel 26:7 the prophet gives Nebuchadnezzar this title. As we find by the succeeding verse, the kingdom here is not mere royalty or kingship, but the special royalty of practically universal empire; that is to say, universal so far as the knowledge of the times went. Our rendering in the Authorized Version fails in accuracy, in not inserting the definite article, which is really implied in the sign of the status emphaticus. Luther makes the same mistake. Happily the Revisers have altered matters, and inserted "the," as does Behrmann. The Greek Version and Peshitta are accurate in this. The word translated "power," חִסְנָא (his'na), is consonantly present in both dialects of more recent Aramaic. Daniel 2:37The interpretation begins with the golden head. מלכיּא מלך, the usual title of the monarchs of the Oriental world-kingdoms (vid., Ezekiel 26:7), is not the predicate to אנתּה, but stands in apposition to מלכּא. The following relative passages, Daniel 2:37 and Daniel 2:38, are only further explications of the address King of Kings, in which אנתּה is again taken up to bring back the predicate. בּכל־דּי, wherever, everywhere. As to the form דּארין, see the remarks under קאמין at Daniel 3:3. The description of Nebuchadnezzar's dominion over men, beasts, and birds, is formed after the words of Jeremiah 27:6 and Jeremiah 28:14; the mention of the breasts serves only for the strengthening of the thought that his dominion was that of a world-kingdom, and that God had subjected all things to him. Nebuchadnezzar' dominion did not, it is true, extend over the whole earth, but perhaps over the whole civilised world of Asia, over all the historical nations of his time; and in this sense it was a world-kingdom, and as such, "the prototype and pattern, the beginning and primary representative of all world-powers" (Klief.). ראשׁה, stat. emphat. for ראשׁא; the reading ראשׁהּ defended by Hitz. is senseless. If Daniel called him (Nebuchadnezzar) the golden head, the designation cannot refer to his person, but to the world-kingdom founded by him and represented in his person, having all things placed under his sway by God. Hitzig's idea, that Nebuchadnezzar is the golden head as distinguished from his successors in the Babylonian kingdom, is opposed by Daniel 2:39, where it is said that after him (not another king, but) "another kingdom" would arise. That "Daniel, in the words, 'Thou art the golden head,' speaks of the Babylonian kingdom as of Nebuchadnezzar personally, while on the contrary he speaks of the other world-kingdoms impersonally only as of kingdoms, has its foundation in this, that the Babylonian kingdom personified in Nebuchadnezzar stood before him, and therefore could be addressed by the word thou, while the other kingdoms could not" (Klief.).
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