Daniel 2:8
The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
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(8) Gain time.—They hoped that by continual postponement they would induce the king to let the matter pass over; or, if not, that they might be able to wheedle the dream out of him,

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, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time - Margin, "buy." The Chaldee word זבנין zâbenı̂yn (from זבן zeban) means, to get for oneself, buy, gain, procure. Greek, ἐξαγοράζετε exagorazete - "that ye redeem time;" and so the Vulgate - quod tempus redimitis. The idea is, that they saw that they could not comply with his requisition, and that their asking him Daniel 2:7 to state the dream was only a pretext for delay, in the hope that in the interval some device might be hit on by them to appease him, or to avert his threatened indignation. It would be natural to suppose that they might hope that on reflection he would become more calm, and that, although they "might" not be able to recal the dream and explain it, yet it would be seen to be unreasonable to expect or demand it. The king seems to have supposed that some such thoughts were passing through their minds, and he charges on them such a project. The argument of the king seems to have been something like this: "They who can explain a dream correctly can as well tell what it is as what its interpretation is, for the one is as much the result of Divine influence as the other; and if men can hope for Divine help in the one case, why not in the other? As you cannot, therefore, recal the dream, it is plain that you cannot interpret it; and your only object in demanding to know it is, that you may ward off as long as possible the execution of the threatened sentence, and, if practicable, escape it altogether." It is not improbable that what they said was more than the simple request recorded in Daniel 2:7. They would naturally enlarge on it, by attempting to show how unreasonable was the demand of the king in the case, and their arguments would give a fair pretext for what he here charges on them.

Because ye see the thing is gone from me - According to the interpretation proposed in Daniel 2:5, the "dream." The meaning is, "You see that I have forgotten it. I have made a positive statement on that point. There can be no hope, therefore, that it can be recalled, and it is clear that your only object must be to gain time. Nothing can be gained by delay, and the matter may therefore be determined at once, and your conduct be construed as a confession that you cannot perform what is required, and the sentence proceed without delay." This makes better sense, it seems to me, than to suppose that he means that a sentence had gone forth from him that if they could not recal and interpret it they should be put to death.

8. gain … time—literally, "buy." Compare Eph 5:16; Col 4:5, where the sense is somewhat different.

the thing is gone from me—(See on [1082]Da 2:5).

This ye do in policy, to escape punishment; when taken up with other affairs, I may forget to make further inquiry after this thing, but it shall not serve your turn.

The king answered and said, I know of certainty,.... I see plainly and clearly what you are at, and am fully assured you mean nothing, but that

ye would gain the time: or buy (f), or redeem time, as in Ephesians 5:16, prolong time, put off the answer to longer time; spin out time, as people do in buying and selling; or have it in their possession and power when to answer; and so by gaining time, or being master of it, might hope something would turn up to their advantage, and extricate them out of their present difficulties:

because ye see the thing is gone from me; the dream he could not remember; or because the decree was certain which he had determined concerning them; See Gill on Daniel 2:5.

(f) "quod tempus vos emitis", Pagninus, Munster; "ementes", Montanus; "vos tempus redimere", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
8. of certainty] We should say now, ‘of a certainty.’ Murray quotes from North’s Plutarch (1580), ‘It is of certainty that her proper name was Nicostrata.’

would gain time (R.V.)] lit. are buying the time. Their repeated request to the king to tell them his dream is proof to him that they have no power to reveal secrets, and that they could not therefore interpret his dream, even though he were to describe it to them: hence he charges them with buying the time, i.e. with endeavouring to defer the fatal moment when the truth must appear, and when their inability to interpret his dream must be exposed.

because ye see that the word spoken by me is sure, (9) That, if, &c.] Because you see that I am resolved to punish you, if you do not fulfil the conditions I lay down (Daniel 2:5).

Verse 8. - The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. The versions here do not differ in any essential point. The king now becomes certain of the treasonable purpose of the soothsayers. The word zeban means not so much "gain" as "purchase," "barter." To the king the meaning of their obstinate refusal to submit to his requirements is that they know that some great advantage may be gained by the king, or some great disaster forefended, if he only knows the meaning of this dream, and that if the king does not submit to them and yield up his decree, and, putting his pride under his feet, tell them the dream, the time when its revelation may be taken advantage of may be passed. In these matters everything was supposed to depend on the thing to be done being done precisely at the right conjunction of the planets. His last utterance seems almost to rise to agony, "Because ye see the thing is fixed away from me!" We have the same word (azda) translated here, as in the fifth verse, "gone." As we saw above, its real meaning is rather "fixed," "settled," "determined." His decree had gone out, and he would not - nay, so strongly had he willed at that it was as it' he could not - alter his decision. It has been regarded as bearing on this passage that St. Paul (Ephesians 5:16) uses the same word as that by which the Greek versions translate zeban, "redeeming the time, because the days are evil." The meaning of the apostle is to some extent in contrast to that here. Believers are, as it were, to purchase the time from the evil days. Nebuchadnezzar thought the astrologers were, as it were, meaning by their delays to buy the auspicious moment for the kingdom from under his feet. It is a mistaken idea that he thought they merely wished to gain time. It would I seem, from what we read further of his treatment of Daniel's request lot time, that, had they merely asked for time, Nebuchadnezzar would have granted their request. He had staked his faith in their ability to unfold any mystery on this one test, and they seemed to him obstinately to refuse to submit to it. To believe them unable to reveal the truth that he wished, would be to overturn all the fabric of his faith in the religion of his fathers; therefore, with all the strength of a strong man. and all the blind faith of a fanatic, he will not acknowledge the inability of the soothsayers to tell him his dream; it must be obstinacy, he thinks, that prevents the soothsayers telling him, and that obstinacy must have a sinister purpose. There is a clause in the Septuagint completing this verse, but it is not parallel with any clause in the Massoretic text: "Then just as I have ordered, thus shall it be." This probably is an alternative rendering. Azda is taken in what is now regarded as its meaning - "that which is fixed," or "decreed," in which case this final clause might be rendered, "What is fixed from me is a decree;" and of this the above-mentioned clause is a somewhat free rendering. This interpretation of the clause confirms our view of the situation. Daniel 2:8יצּיב מן, an adverbial expression, to be sure, certainly, as קשׁט מן, truly, Daniel 2:47, and other adverbial forms. The words זבנין אנתּוּן עדּנא דּי do not mean either "that ye wish to use or seize the favourable time" (Hv., Kran.), or "that ye wish to buy up the present perilous moment," i.e., bring it within your power, become masters of the time (Hitz.), but simply, that ye buy, that is wish to gain time (Ges., Maur., etc.). עדּן זבן equals tempus emere in Cicero. Nothing can be here said of a favourable moment, for there was not such a time for the wise men, either in the fact that Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten his dream (Hv.), or in the curiosity of the king with reference to the interpretation of the dream, on which they could speculate, expecting that the king might be induced thereby to give a full communication of the dream (Kran.). But for the wise men, in consequence of the threatening of the king, the crisis was indeed fully of danger; but it is not to be overlooked that they appeared to think that they could control the crisis, bringing it under their own power, by their willingness to interpret the dream if it were reported to them. Their repeated request that the dream should be told to them shows only their purpose to gain time and have their lives, if they now truly believed either that the king could not now distinctly remember his dream, or that by not repeating it he wished to put them to the test. Thus the king says to them: I see from your hesitation that ye are not sure of your case; and since ye at the same time think that I have forgotten the dream, therefore ye wish me, by your repeated requests to relate the dream, only to gain time, to extend the case, because ye fear the threatened punishment (Klief.). דּי כּל־קבל, wholly because; not, withstanding that (Hitz.). As to the last words of Daniel 2:8, see under Daniel 2:5.
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