Daniel 2:5
The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
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(5) Is gone from me.—This difficult word, the etymology of which is very uncertain, appears only here and Daniel 2:8. It seems to mean, “The order has been published by me (comp. Esther 7:7; Isaiah 45:23), and therefore cannot be recalled.”

Cut in pieces.—This was by no means an uncommon form of punishment: (See Smith’s Assurbanipal, pp. 137, 245.)

Daniel 2:5-6. The king said, The thing is gone from me — That is, he could not recollect the substance, much less all the particulars of it; some traces of it, however, must have remained in his mind, by which he thought the whole might be brought back to his remembrance, if his wise men could give him any clew to his dream, or hit, any way, upon the subject of it. This, without doubt, was the state of his mind; for unless some traces of his dream, however imperfect, had remained in it, his wise men would have endeavoured to impose upon him, and have told him any dream they could devise. If ye will not make known the dream, ye shall be cut in pieces — Literally, be made into pieces. So Syriac; that is, utterly destroyed, as the LXX. and the Vulgate render it. A kind of punishment, of which other places in Scripture make mention: see the margin. And your houses shall be made a dunghill — That is, shall be entirely pulled down, and never rebuilt. The ground of this threatening of the king is, that the eastern nations esteemed it a very grievous punishment inflicted upon any one to efface his memory, which in a great measure would be done by pulling down his house, and preventing its being ever rebuilt. The LXX. read, οι οικοι υμων διαρπαγησονται, your houses shall be plundered, and the Vulgate: your houses shall be confiscated, or taken for the king’s use. This proud king seemed determined to exercise the bitterest acts of cruelty against his magicians, and to blot out the very traces of their memory, if they did not gratify his unreasonable but anxious wishes. We meet with a like denunciation from this haughty monarch, Daniel 3:9. But if ye show the dream, &c., ye shall receive gifts — As I have threatened you with death, and the destruction of all you have, if you do not perform what I require: so I promise you honour and great rewards if you do perform it.

2:1-13 The greatest men are most open to cares and troubles of mind, which disturb their repose in the night, while the sleep of the labouring man is sweet and sound. We know not the uneasiness of many who live in great pomp, and, as others vainly think, in pleasure also. The king said that his learned men must tell him the dream itself, or they should all be put to death as deceivers. Men are more eager to ask as to future events, than to learn the way of salvation or the path of duty; yet foreknowledge of future events increases anxiety and trouble. Those who deceived, by pretending to do what they could not do, were sentenced to death, for not being able to do what they did not pretend to.The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me - The Vulgate renders this, "Sermo recessit a me" - "The word is departed from me." So the Greek, Ὁ λόγος ἀπ ̓ ἐμοῦ ἀπέστη Ho logos ap' emou apestē. Luther, "Es ist mir entfallen" - "It has fallen away from me," or has departed from me. Coverdale, "It is gone from me." The Chaldee word rendered "the thing" - מלתה mı̂llethâh - means, properly, "a word, saying, discourse" - something which is "spoken;" then, like דבר dâbâr and the Greek ῥῆμα rēma, a "thing." The reference here is to the matter under consideration, to wit, the dream and its meaning. The fair interpretation is, that he had forgotten the dream, and that if he retained "any" recollection of it, it was only such an imperfect outline as to alarm him. The word rendered "is gone" - אזדא 'azeddâ' - which occurs only here and in Daniel 2:8, is supposed to be the same as אזל 'ăzal - "to go away, to depart." Gesenius renders the whole phrase, "The word has gone out from me; i. e., what I have said is ratified, and cannot be recalled;" and Prof. Bush (in loc.) contends that this is the true interpretation, and this also is the interpretation preferred by John D. Michaelis, and Dathe. A construction somewhat similar is adopted by Aben Ezra, C. B. Michaelis, Winer, Hengstenberg, and Prof. Stuart, that it means, "My decree is firm, or steadfast;" to wit, that if they did not furnish an interpretation of the dream, they should be cut off. The question as to the true interpretation, then, is between two constructions: whether it means, as in our version, that the dream had departed from him - that is, that he had forgotten it - or, that a decree or command had gone from him, that if they could not interpret the dream they should be destroyed. That the former is the correct interpretation seems to me to be evident.

(1) It is the natural construction, and accords best with the meaning of the original words. Thus no one can doubt that the word מלה millâh, and the words דבר dâbâr and ῥῆμα rēma, are used in the sense of "thing," and that the natural and proper meaning of the Chaldee verb אזד 'ăzad is, to "go away, depart." Compare the Hebrew (אזל 'âzal) in Deuteronomy 32:36, "He seeth that their power is gone;" 1 Samuel 9:7, "The bread is spent in our vessels;" Job 14:11, "The waters fail from the sea;" and the Chaldee (אזל 'ăzal) in Ezra 4:23, "They went up in haste to Jerusalem;" Ezra 5:8, "We went into the province of Judea;" and Daniel 2:17, Daniel 2:24; Daniel 6:18 (19), 19(20).

(2) This interpretation is sustained by the Vulgate of Jerome, and by the Greek.

(3) It does not appear that any such command had at that time gone forth from the king, and it was only when they came before him that he promulgated such an order. Even though the word, as Gesenins and Zickler (Chaldaismus Dan. Proph.) maintain, is a feminine participle present, instead of a verb in the preterit, still it would then as well apply to the "dream" departing from him, as the command or edict. We may suppose the king to say, "The thing leaves me; I cannot recal it."

(4) It was so understood by the magicians, and the king did not attempt to correct their apprehension of what he meant. Thus, in Daniel 2:7, they say, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation thereof." This shows that they understood that the dream had gone from him, and that they could not be expected to interpret its meaning until they were apprised what it was.

(5) It is not necessary to suppose that the king retained the memory of the dream himself, and that he meant merely to try them; that is, that he told them a deliberate falsehood, in order to put their ability to the test. Nebuchadnezzar was a cruel and severe monarch, and such a thing would not have been entirely inconsistent with his character; but we should not needlessly charge cruelty and tyranny on any man, nor should we do it unless the evidence is so clear that we cannot avoid it. Besides, that such a test should be proposed is in the highest degree improbable. There was no need of it; and it was contrary to the established belief in such matters. These men were retained at court, among other reasons, for the very purpose of explaining the prognostics of the future. There was confidence in them; and they were retained "because" there was confidence in them. It does not appear that the Babylonian monarch had had any reason to distrust their ability as to what they professed; and why should he, therefore, on "this" occasion resolve to put them to so unusual, and obviously so unjust a trial?

For these reasons, it seems clear to me that our common version has given the correct sense of this passage, and that the meaning is, that the dream had actually so far departed from him that he could not repeat it, though he retained such an impression of its portentous nature, and of its appalling outline, as to fill his mind with alarm. As to the objection derived from this view of the passage by Bertholdt to the authenticity of this chapter, that it is wholly improbable that any man would be so unreasonable as to doom others to punishment because they could not recal his dream, since it entered not into their profession to be able to do it (Commentary i. p. 192), it may be remarked, that the character of Nebuchadnezzar was such as to make what is stated here by Daniel by no means improbable. Thus it is said respecting him 2 Kings 25:7, "And they slew the sons of Zedekiah 'before his eyes,' and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon." Compare 2 Kings 25:18-21; Jeremiah 39:5, following; Jeremiah 52:9-11. See also Daniel 4:17, where he is called "the basest of men." Compare Hengstenberg, "Die Authentie des Daniel," pp. 79-81. On this objection, see Introduction to the chapter, Section I.I.

If ye will not make known, unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof - Whatever may be thought as to the question whether he had actually forgotten the dream, there can be no doubt that he demanded that they should state what it was, and then explain it. This demand was probably as unusual as it was in one sense unreasonable, since it did not fall fairly within their profession. Yet it was not unreasonable in this sense, that if they really had communication with the gods, and were qualified to explain future events, it might be supposed that they would be enabled to recal this forgotten dream. If the gods gave them power to explain what was to "come," they could as easily enable them to recal "the past."

Ye shall be cut in pieces - Margin, "made." The Chaldee is, "Ye shall be made into pieces; "referring to a mode of punishment that was common to many ancient nations. Compare 1 Samuel 15:33 : "And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal." Thus Orpheus is said to have been torn in pieces by the Thracian women; and Bessus was cut in pieces by order of Alexander the Great.

And your houses shall be made a dunghill - Compare 2 Kings 10:27. This is an expression denoting that their houses, instead of being elegant or comfortable mansions, should be devoted to the vilest of uses, and subjected to all kinds of dishonor and defilement. The language here used is in accordance with what is commonly employed by Orientals. They imprecate all sorts of indignities and abominations on the objects of their dislike, and it is not uncommon for them to smear over with filth what is the object of their contempt or abhorrenee. Thus when the caliph Omar took Jerusalem, at the head of the Saracen army, after ravaging the greater part of the city, he caused dung to be spread over the site of the sanctuary, in token of the abhorrence of all Mussulmans, and of its being henceforth regarded as the refuse and offscouring of all things. - Prof. Bush. The Greek renders this, "And your houses shall be plundered;" the Vulgate, "And your houses shall be confiscated." But these renderings are entirely arbitrary. This may seem to be a harsh punishment which was threatened, and some may, perhaps, be disposed to say that it is improbable that a monarch would allow himself to use such intemperate language, and to make use of so severe a threatening, especially when the magicians had as yet shown no inability to interpret the dream, and had given no reasons to apprehend that they would be unable to do it. But we are to remember

(1) the cruel and arbitrary character of the king (see the references above);

(2) the nature of an Oriental despotism, in which a monarch is acccustomed to require all his commands to be obeyed, and his wishes gratified promptly, on pain of death;

(3) the fact that his mind was greatly excited by the dream; and


5. The thing—that is, The dream, "is gone from me." Gesenius translates, "The decree is gone forth from me," irrevocable (compare Isa 45:23); namely, that you shall be executed, if you do not tell both the dream and the interpretation. English Version is simpler, which supposes the king himself to have forgotten the dream. Pretenders to supernatural knowledge often bring on themselves their own punishment.

cut in pieces—(1Sa 15:33).

houses … dunghill—rather, "a morass heap." The Babylonian houses were built of sun-dried bricks; when demolished, the rain dissolves the whole into a mass of mire, in the wet land, near the river [Stuart]. As to the consistency of this cruel threat with Nebuchadnezzar's character, see Da 4:17, "basest of men"; Jer 39:5, 6; 52:9-11.

The thing is gone from me: this was of God, that these impostors should be made infamous, by detecting their ignorance and their arrogance, and that this should be a step to Daniel’s honour, for knowing the king’s dream and interpreting it, neither of which the Chaldeans could do.

With the interpretation thereof: if they do not both, saith the king.

Cut in pieces, and your houses, & c, this was a usual punishment in those parts of the world; thus Samuel cut Agag in pieces, 1 Samuel 15:33 1 Chronicles 20:3. Thus David dealt with the Ammonites. And the like was in making houses a dunghill. The like we have Daniel 3:29; and thus they did to the house of Baal, made it a draught-house to this day, by Jehu’s command, 2 Kings 10:27. The like did Darius threaten to them that would alter his decree for building the house of God, Ezra 6:11. This commination argued the king’s wrath to be excessive and furious, in punishing for not doing what was above their human strength, and which the Chaldeans never arrogated to themselves; yet was this a just reward to these men, that were so presumptuous.

The king answered and said to the Chaldeans,.... In the same language they spoke to him:

the thing is gone from me; either the dream was gone from him; it was out of his mind, he had forgot it, and could not call it to remembrance; he had been dreaming of monarchies and kingdoms, which are themselves but dreams and tales, and empty things that pass away, and which he might have learned from hence: or, as it may be rendered, "the word is confirmed by me" (z). Saadiah says, that some observe that the word here used has the signification of strength or firmness; and so Aben Ezra interprets the word, is stable and firm; to which agrees the Syriac version,

"most sure is the word which I pronounce;''

referring not to the dream, but to what follows the king's declaration, both with respect to threatenings and promises:

if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof; the king speaks as if he thought it was in their power, but they were unwilling to do it; though no doubt, had they been able, they would have readily done it, both for their credit and advantage:

ye shall be cut in pieces; not only cut in two, but into various pieces, limb by limb, as Agag by Samuel, and the Ammonites by David; and which was a punishment often inflicted in the eastern nations; as Orpheus was cut to pieces by the Thracian women, and Bessus by order of Alexander the great (a); much the same punishment as, with us, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered:

and your houses shall be made a dunghill; be destroyed, and never rebuilt more, but put to the most contemptible uses: and this was common among the Romans; when any were found plotting against the government, or guilty of treason, they were not only capitally punished, but their houses were pulled down, or the names of them changed; or, however, were not used for dwelling houses; so the house of Caius Cassius was pulled down and demolished for his affectation of government, and for treason; and that of M. Maulins Capitolinus, who was suspected of seizing the government, after he was thrown from the rock, was made a mint of; and that of Spuflus Melius for the same crime, after he had suffered, was by reproach called Aequimelium; and of the like kind many instances are given (b) and so among the Grecians; Pausanias (c) relates of Astylus Crotoniata, that by way of punishment, and as a mark of infamy upon him for a crime he had done, his house was appointed for a public prison. Herodotus (d) reports Leutychides, general of the Lacedemonians in Thessalian expedition, that having received money by way of bribery, for which he was tried and condemned, though he made his escape, his house was demolished; and the same usage and custom remains to this day in France: thus the unhappy Damien, a madman, who of late stabbed the French king; one part of his sentence was, that the house in which he was born should be pulled down, as he himself also was pulled and cut to pieces; see 2 Kings 10:27.

(z) "verbum a me firmum, vel firmatum", Michaelis; "a me decretum et statutum", L'Empereur. (a) Vid. Curtium, l. 7. c. 5. p. 206. (b) Vid. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 23. (c) Eliac. 2. sive l. 6. p. 366. (d) Erato, sive I. 6. p. 72.

The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye {g} shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.

(g) This is a just reward of their arrogance (who boasted of themselves that they had knowledge of all things), that they should be proved fools, and that to their perpetual shame and confusion.

5. The thing is gone from me] The word spoken by me—lit. (proceeding) from meis sure. The king means that the threat which follows is fully resolved upon by him. Azda is a Persian word, meaning sure, certain (see Schrader, KAT[204][205], p. 617); the rendering ‘gone’ is philologically indefensible.

[204] AT. Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O.T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the original, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

[205] Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O.T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the original, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

if ye will not make known] if ye make not known (R.V.). ‘Will not,’ in this sentence would (in modern English) mean ‘are not willing to,’ which is not in the Aramaic at all.

cut in pieces] more exactly, dismembered; lit. made into (separate) limbs; so Daniel 3:29 (cf. 2Ma 1:16 μέλη ποιήσαντες). The word for ‘limb’ (haddâm,—common in Syriac, but in the O.T. found only here and Daniel 3:29) is Persian (Zend hañdâma, Mod. Pers. andâm). The violence and peremptoriness of the threatened punishment is in accordance with what might be expected at the hands of an Eastern despot: the Assyrians and Persians, especially, were notorious for the barbarity of their punishments.

be made a dunghill] Cf. Daniel 3:29 and Ezra 6:11 (where Darius decrees the same punishment for any one altering the terms of his edict).

Verse 5 - The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. The version of the LXX. has slight but important differences from the Massoretic text. It is as follows "And the king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if therefore ye do not tell me the dream truly and show me the interpretation thereof, ye shall be made an example of, and your goods shall be escheat to the royal treasury." Theodotion renders the last portion of the verse, "ye shall be destroyed (εἰς ἀπώλειαν ἔσεσθε), and your houses shall be plundered (διαρπαγήσονται)." The Peshitta is closer to the Massoretic, but, like Theodotion, softens the last clause into "plundered." The Vulgate retains the fierceness of the Massoretic, softened merely in phrase, not in meaning. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me. The first thing to be noticed is the difference of the Q'ri and the K'thib in the word "Chaldean;" it is written כשׂדיא, according to the Syriac usage, not כשׂדאי according to the Chaldee. As the Book of Daniel was copied and recopied many times, probably at least scores of' times before, on the latest assignable critic d date of Daniel, the Massoretic text was fixed, and copied mainly by those whose language was Western not Eastern Aramaic. the occurrence of Syriac forms is more likely to be survivals from a Syriac original than insertions, either accidental or intentional. When the differences are so slight as those between Eastern and Western Aramaic, the tendency is to remove them rather than to accentuate them. The older interpretation of mill tha, "thing" or "word," was to take it as referring to the dream - that it was the matter that had gone from him. This, however, depends to a large degree on the moaning to be attached to ozda. Is it to be regarded as equivalent to azla, as if it were derived from אֲזַל, "to go;" or is azda to be regarded as Persian azdu, "sure," "diligent"? Delitzsch suggests azanda. "known." The two Greek versions render, ὁ λόγος ἀπ ἐμοῦ ἀπέστη, a phrase which may either be "the word has gone from me," or "the matter has departed from me," the latter being the more natural, from the meaning of ἀφίστημι. The Peshitta rendering is, "Sure is the word I have spoken." The older commentators have mainly taken this sentence as asserting that Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten the dream; Calvin. however, does so only because he feels himself compelled to take ver. 8 as meaning this; while Jephet-ibn-Ali and others assume this to be the meaning of the phrase. Aben Ezra takes azda as meaning "firm" or sure. Berthohlt, among moderns, maintains that millitha is "the dream." Most others assert the sentence to mean, "The word which has gone forth from me is sure;" this is also Professor Bevan's interpretation. Hitzig's view here is peculiar: he would translate, "For the matter is important to me." This view does not suit ver. 8. The lexicons differ in this. Winer first gives elapsus est, abiit, then adds, "unless rather it be derived from the Arabic (atzad), 'strong,' or from the Rabbinic אָזַד, robustus." Buxtorf does give the alleged Rabbinic use of the verb, but gives reference only to occurrence in the passage before us and ver. 8, and renders abire. Gesenius renders, "to depart," and quotes in support of this the Rabbinic formula, אזדא לטצמים, "to go to one's own opinion," spoken of a rabbi who holds a view not shared by any other. At the same time, Gesenius gives a meaning to the clause as a whole which accords with that of most commentators, "The word has gone out from me." Furst takes the word as meaning "firm," "sure," "unalterable." He too quotes the Rabbinic formula, as if it confirmed his view, which really it does not. Castell gives as robur, but appends no reference. Brockelmann does not give it at all, nor does Levy. Had Castell given any reference, it might have been argued to be a survival of a Syriac word through transcription; but we must remain in doubt in this, all the more so that the Peshitta does not transfer the word, which it would naturally have done had the word been extant in Syriac in A.D. . This would make it probable that it is an old word. The fact that it is used in Talmudic only in a formula, and then in a sense unsuitable to the present passage, confirms the idea of its age. It had probably a technical meaning, denoting that a certain matter was irrevocable. The Persian derivation of the word is by no means certain, though supported by Schrader and Noehleke. It may have a Shemitic root. אזז (azoz) Assyrian (Schrader, 526), "to be firm," may be the Assyrian form of the word, which becomes אזד in Syriac, and אזדא in status emphatieus. In Aramaic ז of Hebrew becomes ד, as זָהַב (zabab) and דְהַב (dehab), "gold." The Assyrian use of sibilants is more akin to Hebrew than to Aramaic. Sa, "this," is equivalent to זֶה (zeh), Schrader, 'Keiln.,' 586. If אזז were transferred from Assyrian and put in the status emphaticus, אַזְדָא is not an unlikely form for it to assume. Even grant the word to be Persian, it is far from proving, or even rendering it probable, that Daniel was composed in the days of the Maccabees. There is no trace of Persian producing much effect on the language of the numerous peoples that were subject to the Persian empire. There is no sign that the word was known in Palestine during the time when the Targums were becoming fixed. In Alexandria, where the Septuagint version of Daniel was made, the meaning of the word was not known, and was thought to be equivalent to אזל (azal). In Asia Minor, where Theodotion made his version, it was unknown. Jerome, who made his version, if not in Palestine, yet under Pales-tinian guidance, translates it also as equivalent to azal. The natural conclusion is that this book must have been composed not later than the Persian period, and not far from the centre of government. As we have already said, our interpretation agrees with that of Professor Bevan; we would render the phrase, "The word which has gone forth from me," i.e., "is fixed." The reason of the king's refusal to tell the wise men his dream is that he cannot do it, net because he has forgotten it, but because he has already announced that he wishes these soothsayers to prove their ability to give the interpretation of the dream by telling him what the dream was which he had had. He has committed himself to that course; he is a king, and he may not change, If ye will not make known to me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. The king, unaccustomed to be opposed or refused anything, at once determines that it is not inability to tell him what he wishes to know that hinders the soothsayers, but unwillingness. Of course, the abruptness of the action, immediate sentence pronounced on their hesitating to satisfy his demand, seems improbable. We must, however, remember that we have the account given us in the utmost brevity. We have the substance of the dialogue between the king and his astrologers. It is put in dialogue form simply because the Shemitic tongues naturally lend themselves to this mode of presentation. The sentence, "ye shall be cut in pieces," suggests some of the punishments inflicted by Asshurbanipal on those who rebelled against him. In the Aramaic the meaning literally is, "Ye shall be made pieces of." This is considerably softened in both the Greek versions. In the LXX. the rendering is, Παρὰ δειγματισθήσεσθε, "Ye shall be made an example of." Theodotion renders, Αἰς ἀπώλειαν ἔσεσθε, "Ye shall be for destruction." The Peshitta is stronger, if anything, from the succession of words, "Piece piece ye shall be cut." The punishment certainly was horrible, but not more so than the punishment David inflicted on the murderers of Ishbosheth. Indeed, in European countries a century and a half ago punishments yet more revolting were frequent. The punishment for treason in our own country was as horrible as anything well could be. The sentence, however, went further than merely the individuals. And your houses shall be made a dunghill. In the 'Records of the Past,' 1:27, 43, are references to something like this. "houses reduced to heaps of rubbish." That the houses thus made heaps of rubbish should therefore be made dunghills, is in perfect accordance with the manners at present holding in the East. The rendering of the Septuagint is very peculiar here, "And your goods shall be escheat to tire royal treasury (καὶ ὀναληφθήσεται ὑμῶν τὰ ὑπάρχοντα εἰς τὸ βασιλίκον)." This cannot be due to any desire to soften the meaning, for in the first place, in Daniel 7:29, where the same phrase occurs in the Aramaic, it is paraphrased, but not really changed; it is rendered δημευθήσεται. But further, the meaning here is perfectly different from that in the Aramaic of the Masse,retie recension. Theodotion's rendering is a softening of the Massoretic, "Your houses shall be (διαρπαγήσονται) torn down;" but the Septuagint quite changes the meaning. If the translator had a slightly blurred copy before him, he might read נזלו instead of נולי; that is to say, instead of "a dunghill," he read it as the third person plural pael of the verb אֲזַלַ (azal), "to go." When written in Sama-titan characters, or in old Phoenican characters, the last word would not be unlike למלך, "to the king." This is the only explanation of this variation that seems feasible, and it implies that the manuscript before the Septuagint translator was written in Eastern, not Western Aramaic. The pre-formative נ, used as the sign of the third person, is the peculiarity of Eastern Aramaic. The translator must have bad this generally before him in his manuscript, or he never could have made this mistake. This is another indication that the Aramaic of Daniel was originally not Chaldee, but Syriac. We can imagine the striking scene: on the one wide the haughty young conqueror, blazing in indignation at the obstinate refusal, as he counts it, of his soothsayers and augurs to tell him his dream and the meaning of it; on the other, the crouching crowd of magicians, astrologers, and oneiromantists, dispirited and nonplussed. Brought up in an absolute faith in astrology and augury, the king never doubted their ability to tell him his dream; it could only be a treasonable desire to hinder him from taking the suitable steps to avoid whatever danger might be threatened by it, or to gain whatever advantage might be promised. They would not tell him the dream, because by their rules the interpretation would be fixed, and from that they could I not escape. The king will not and cannot reverse his word, and they cannot tell him what he desires, and so they stand facing each other. Daniel 2:5The meaning of the king's answer shapes itself differently according to the different explanations given of the words אזדּא מנּי מלּתה. The word אזדּא drow eh, which occurs only again in the same phrase in Daniel 2:8, is regarded, in accordance with the translations of Theodot., ὁ λόγος ἀπ ̓ἐμοῦ ἀπέστη, and of the Vulg., "sermo recessit a me," as a verb, and as of like meaning with עזל, "to go away or depart," and is therefore rendered by M. Geier, Berth., and others in the sense, "the dream has escaped from me;" but Ges. Hv., and many older interpreters translate it, on the contrary, "the command is gone out from me." But without taking into account that the punctuation of the word אזדּא is not at all that of a verb, for this form can neither be a particip. nor the 3rd pers. pret. fem., no acknowledgment of the dream's having escaped from him is made; for such a statement would contradict what was said at Daniel 2:3, and would not altogether agree with the statement of Daniel 2:8. מלּתה is not the dream. Besides, the supposition that אזד is equivalent to אזל, to go away, depart, is not tenable. The change of the לinto דis extremely rare in the Semitic, and is not to be assumed in the word אזל, since Daniel himself uses אזל אזל, Daniel 2:17, Daniel 2:24; Daniel 6:19-20, and also Ezra; Ezra 4:23; Ezra 5:8, Ezra 5:15. Moreover אזל has not the meaning of יצא, to go out, to take one's departure, but corresponds with the Hebr. הלך .rbe, to go. Therefore Winer, Hengst., Ibn Esr. Aben Ezra, Saad., and other rabbis interpret the word as meaning firmus: "the word stands firm;" cf. Daniel 6:13 (12), מלּתא יצּיבה ("the thing is true"). This interpretation is justified by the actual import of the words, as it also agrees with Daniel 2:8; but it does not accord with Daniel 2:5. Here (in Daniel 2:5) the declaration of the certainty of the king's word was superfluous, because all the royal commands were unchangeable. For this reason also the meaning σπουδαιῶς, studiously, earnestly, as Hitz., by a fanciful reference to the Persian, whence he has derived it, has explained it, is to be rejected. Much more satisfactory is the derivation from the Old Persian word found on inscriptions, âzanda, "science," "that which is known," given by Delitzsch (Herz.'s Realenc. iii. p. 274), and adopted by Kran. and Klief.

(Note: In regard to the explanation of the word אזדּא as given above, it is, however, to be remarked that it is not confirmed, and Delitzsch has for the present given it up, because-as he has informed me-the word azdâ, which appears once in the large inscription of Behistan (Bisutun) and twice in the inscription of Nakhschi-Rustam, is of uncertain reading and meaning. Spiegel explains it "unknown," from zan, to know, and a privativum.)

Accordingly Klief. thus interprets the phrase: "let the word from me be known," "be it known to you;" which is more suitable obviously than that of Kran.: "the command is, so far as regards me, made public." For the king now for the first time distinctly and definitely says that he wishes not only to hear from the wise men the interpretation, but also the dream itself, and declares the punishment that shall visit them in the event of their not being able to comply. הדּמין עבד, μέλη ποιεῖν, 2 Macc. 1:16, lxx in Daniel 3:39, διαμελίζεσθαι, to cut in pieces, a punishment that was common among the Babylonians (Daniel 3:39, cf. Ezekiel 16:40), and also among the Israelites in the case of prisoners of war (cf. 1 Samuel 15:33). It is not, however, to be confounded with the barbarous custom which was common among the Persians, of mangling particular limbs. נולי, in Ezra 6:11 נולוּ, dunghill, sink. The changing of their houses into dunghills is not to be regarded as meaning that the house built of clay would be torn down, and then dissolved by the rain and storm into a heap of mud, but is to be interpreted according to 2 Kings 10:27, where the temple of Baal is spoken of as having been broken down and converted into private closets; cf. Hv. in loco. The Keri תּתעבּדוּן without the Dagesh in בmight stand as the Kethiv for Ithpaal, but is apparently the Ithpeal, as at Daniel 3:29; Ezra 6:11. As to בּתּיכון, it is to be remarked that Daniel uses only the suffix forms כון and הון, while with Ezra כם and כן are interchanged (see above, p. 515), which are found in the language of the Targums and might be regarded as Hebraisms, while the forms כון and הון are peculiar to the Syriac and the Samaritan dialects. This distinction does not prove that the Aramaic of Daniel belongs to a period later than that of Ezra (Hitz., v. Leng.), but only that Daniel preserves more faithfully the familiar Babylonian form of the Aramaic than does the Jewish scribe Ezra.

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