Daniel 2:9
But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.
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(9) There is but one decree.—He refers to the decree mentioned Daniel 2:5, that both the dream and the interpretation must be told. These two things must go together, for they form the subject of one decree.

Ye have prepared . . . be changedi.e., “you have made au agreement among yourselves to postpone the matter till a more lucky time for explaining the dream shall come.” On Eastern notions about fortunate days, comp. Esther 3:7 and the standard inscription or Nebuchadnezzar towards the end.

Daniel 2:9. If ye will not make known the dream, &c., there is but one decree for you — No alteration will be made as to my declaration; and you have nothing to expect but the execution of the sentence which I have passed upon you. For ye have prepared lying and corrupt words — The king’s meaning seems to be, that he found by their behaviour, they were ready, in case he told his dream, to invent and give some kind of plausible interpretation of it; or such a one as might, in some way or other, be applicable to whatever events should follow it: in short, that he found their pretended knowledge to be all imposture, since, if they were able to foretel things not yet come to pass, they might certainly tell things already past, and so inform him what was the subject of his dream. Till the time be changed — Till there be such an alteration of things, that neither my dream, nor your interpretation, may be thought of any more. Or, as some think, this may be spoken of the wise men framing excuses, in order to delay their punishment, in hopes there might be some change in things, or in the king’s mind, whereby they might escape it. From what he says, however, in the conclusion of the verse, it seems to be rather an insinuation, that they intended to forge or invent an interpretation of his dream, not being able to show the true interpretation of 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.But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you - That is, you shall share the same fate. You shall all be cut to pieces, and your houses reduced to ruin, Daniel 2:5. There shall be no favor shown to any class of you, or to any individual among you. It seems to have been supposed that the responsibility rested on them individually as well as collectively, and that it would be right to hold each and every one of them bound to explain the matter. As no difference of obligation was recognized, there would be no difference of criminality. It should be said, however, that there is a difference of interpretation here. Gesenius, and some others, render the word translated "decree" - דת dâth - "counsel, plan, purpose," and suppose that it means, "this only is your counsel, or plan;" that is, to prepare lying words, and to gain time. So Prof. Stuart renders the verse, "If ye will not make known to me the dream, one thing is your purpose, both a false and deceitful word have ye agreed to utter before me, until the time shall have changed; therefore tell me the dream, and then I shall know that you can show me the interpretation thereof." The original word, however, is most commonly used in the sense of law or decree. See Deuteronomy 33:2; Esther 1:8, Esther 1:13, Esther 1:15, Esther 1:19; Esther 2:8; Esther 3:8, Esther 3:14-15; Esther 4:3, Esther 4:8, Esther 4:11, Esther 4:16; Esther 8:13-14, Esther 8:17; Esther 9:1, Esther 9:13-14; and there seems to be no necessity for departing from the common translation. It contains a sense according to the truth in the case, and is in accordance with the Greek, Latin, and Syriac versions.

For ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me - That is, "You have done this in asking me to state the dream Daniel 2:4, Daniel 2:7, and in the demand that the dream should be made known to you, in order that you may interpret it. I shall know by your inability to recal the dream that you have been acting a false and deceitful part, and that your pretensions were all false. Your wish, therefore, to have me state the dream will be shown to be a mere pretence, an artifice for delay, that you might put off the execution of the sentence with the hope of escaping altogether."

Till the time be changed - That is, until a new state of things shall occur; either until his purpose might change, and his anger should subside or until there should be a change of government: It was natural for such thoughts to pass through the mind of the king, since, as matters could be no "worse" for them if the subject was delayed, there was a possibility that they might be "better" - for any change would be likely to be an advantage. There does not appear to have been any great confidence or affection on either side. The king suspected that they were influenced by bad motives, and they certainly had no strong reasons for attachment to him. Compare the notes at Daniel 2:21, and Daniel 7:25.

9. one decree—There can be no second one reversing the first (Es 4:11).


till the time be changed—till a new state of things arrive, either by my ceasing to trouble myself about the dream, or by a change of government (which perhaps the agitation caused by the dream made Nebuchadnezzar to forebode, and so to suspect the Chaldeans of plotting).

tell … dream, and I shall know … ye can show … interpretation—If ye cannot tell the past, a dream actually presented to me, how can ye know, and show, the future events prefigured in it?

There is but one decree for you; that is, I will not retract my sentence, ye shall surely die: you are upon tricks, ye have prepared corrupt and lying words, for he that can interpret a dream can tell the dream, both come from a Divine inspiration, which ye pretend to; but I say ye have it not.

But if ye will not make known unto me the dream,.... For the present he does not insist upon the interpretation, only the dream itself, at least this is now only mentioned; concluding that if they could do the one, they could do the other, as is after observed:

there is but one decree for you; for them all; and that was the decree of death; which should never be revoked or mitigated, or the sentence be changed for another; but should certainly be executed, and in which they were all involved, not one should escape:

for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me; framed a deceitful answer to impose upon and screen yourselves:

till the time be changed; either that he could remember his dream, and tell them it himself; or all the images and impressions of it were wore off his mind, so that they could tell him anything, and he not be able to disprove them; or he would grow indifferent to it, and his passionate desire after it cool, and he be careless whether he knew it or not; or he or they should die; or he might be engaged in other affairs, and be called abroad to war, as he had been; or some thing or other turn up, whereby they might escape the ruin threatened. Saadiah fixes the time to noon, when the conversation of kings ceased, and they were otherwise engaged:

therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof; for by being able to tell a dream that was past, it might be concluded they were able to tell what was to come, signified by that dream; and if they could not declare what was past, how should it be thought that they could foretell things to come?

But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.
9. That, if ye make not known unto me the dream, there is but one law for you] you can expect nothing else but punishment. Lit. your law (i.e. the law or sentence against you) is one, implying that it is unalterable and inevitable; cf. Esther 4:11. The word for ‘law’ (dâth) is Persian, Zend dâta, Mod. Pers. dâd (see the Introduction, p. lvi).

and (also) lying and corrupt words ye have agreed to speak before me] pretending falsely that you will be able to explain the dream, if it is only told you.

prepared] So the Kt.; but the Qrê, ‘ye have prepared yourselves, or agreed together’ (cf. Amos 3:3 Targ.), is more in accordance with usage (see Levy, Chald. W. B., s.v.).

before me] to speak ‘before,’ rather than ‘to,’ a king, is the language of respect: so Daniel 2:10-11; Daniel 2:27; Daniel 2:36; Daniel 5:17; Daniel 6:12; Esther 1:16; Esther 7:9; Esther 8:3. Cp. on Daniel 6:10.

till the time be changed] till circumstances take a favourable turn, and the king, for instance, has his attention diverted to something else.

therefore tell me, &c.] if they are able to tell him the dream, it will be a guarantee to him that their explanation will be trustworthy.

Verse 9. - But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you. The words translated (di hen) "but it'" liar, caused some difference, most translating as if the first word were not present. This is the rendering of the Septuagint. Theodotion and Jerome render the first word, which is really the relative, as "therefore," ergo, "then," οϋν. The Peshitta has den, the corresponding Syriac phrase, which has a similar sense to that assumed here. The rendering of the next clause, both in the Septuagint and in the version of Theodotion, differs considerably from the Massoretic text. The rendering of the Septuagint is as follows: "If ye do not truly tell me the dream, an,l show me the interpretation, ye shall die." The version of Theodotion is shorter, "It, then, ye will not tell me the dream." Theodotion thus omits the clause translated, "there is but one decree for you;" the only word that may be the remains of it is οϊδα, ידעת, or simply the participle, The Syriac is, "If ye will not declare the dream to me, one is your plan and your word." The text of the Septuagint in this case indicates that we have here additions from previous verses. The phrase, "and declare to me the interpretation," is evidently supplied from ver. 5, whereas "ye shall die." literally, "ye shall chance to (fall into) death," has a different origin. This phrase has all the appearance of a translation. It would seem applicable on the idea that in the text before the Septuagint translator, instead of דתכון (datheon), "your decree," there stood מתכון (motheon), "your death," the ו (vav) being omitted, and possibly the preposition בְ (be), and milch being read into some part of nephal, "to fall," probably תִּפּלוּן (tippelun). The omission of this clause, as above mentioned, from Theodotion renders it a little doubtful, as it indicates that in the text used by the Jews of Asia Minor this phrase was awanting. Most commentators take dath in the sense more common in Eastern than in Western Aramaic, of "pica" rather than "decree" Ewald and Professor Bevan oppose this view, as also Keil, the last with great positiveness. The facts that so many commentators give this meaning, and that certain Rabbinic authorities reterred to but not named by Jephet-ibn-Ali prove it to be no impossible translation. Hitzig, Von Lengerke, Maurer, Michaelis, and Moses Stuart are not quite despicable. The main reason against this view is that in Western Aramaic dath means "decree," in Eastern Aramaic it means, according to Castell, scopus, meta, finis, voluntas. The only difficulty is that he gives no reference, and Brockel-mann gives only lex, which in this case it cannot be, though this is the only reference beside Hoffmann's 'Glossary.' It might be an individual "decree," but a "law" it cannot be. On the received renderings the succession is somewhat violent. "If ye will not tell me the dream, one is your decree," can only be made consecutive by a violent jerk away back to the fifth verse. It seems more natural to take it as meaning, "Ye have agreed together to say one thing to me." The accusation of conspiracy naturally followed from the king's firm conviction that the soothsayers could tell, if they only would, what he required of them. If there began to dawn upon him any idea that their silence was due to inability to answer, it might well move him to redoubled anger that they had been guilty of imposture in claiming such lofty powers and being so highly paid and honoured for their exercise. The king's mind had not yet abandoned the faith of his fathers in magic and divination. For ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me. It' the Septuagint is to be taken as our guide, the word shheethah is a doubtful addition to the Massoretic text It is, however, in the other later versions. According to the rendering of both the Greek versions, the meaning here is stronger than that which is expressed in the Authorized Version; hizdaminton really means "to conspire." He will not admit the plea of inability to satisfy his demands - the vague suspicion may be floating before his mind - as, if he were to admit their inability to satisfy what he wished to learn, then, according to his logic, all their claims were false. Hence the accusation of "lying and corrupt words" would still stand, and have all the greater emphasis. Waiving the question of the authenticity of "corrupt," the distinction between the two words "lying" and "corrupt" seems to be in this: the first refers to the person addressed - to Nebuchadnezzar, - the words are untrue, they are lies - as coming from the soothsayers they are "corrupt," because they are symptomatic of a corrupt disposition, probably traitor, us. Till the time be changed. Theodotion renders here. "till the time be passed." The Septuagint follows a similar reading to that in the Massoretic text. The Peshitta rendering is akin to that of Theodotion. While in all forms of magic and soothsaying, time was an element not to be neglected, it was doubly important in regard to astrology, and an hour or two changed the position of the moon in relation to the constellations. If something required to be clone in consequence of this dream, then most likely it would require to be done in a certain relation of the heavenly bodies to each other. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can show me the interpretation thereof. The Septuagint rendering is paraphrastic, "Now then, if ye tell me the thing which I saw in the night, I shall know that ye can also show the interpretation." While we have called it a paraphrase as regards the Massoretic text, the rendering in the Septuagint may represent the Egyptian recension of the text of Daniel. The use of ῤῆμα or "thing" suggests translation, and assumes millah or mill'tha, which has the same double suggestion of "word spoken" and "thing spoken about." If the Septuagint text were assumed here, we should have confirmation of our view that Nebuchadnezzar remembered his vision, but was determined to experiment on the soothsayers of his court. This view is certainly implied in the following clause. The first word of this clause is peculiar grammatically: אִנְדַּע ('in'd'a) instead of אידע ('iyda) or אִדַּע ('idda). This form of compensating for a dropped consonant by inserting נ (nun) instead of doubling occurs elsewhere in Biblical Aramaic (see ver. 30). This is rare in Syriac, and in the Targums found only in those later, especially those of the Megilloth, which have affinities with the form of Aramaic seen in the Babylonian Talmud. This peculiarity is common in the Maudaitic dialect. It is thus a distinctively Eastern form of Aramaic that is indicated here. When we pass beyond the grammatical elements, we find that Nebuchadnezzar would take correct information as to what he had dreamed a guarantee of the correctness of the interpretation of the dream which the soothsayers might afterwards give him. His attitude was purely and truly scientific, as it is stated. In his own mind he was warped and confused by his overmastering belief in omens and auguries, in gods and demons, in magicians and astrologers. With this faith in his heart, his only explanation of the silence of these soothsayers was treason. Daniel 2:9הן דּי is equivalent to אם אשׁר, quodsi. "The דּי supposes the fact of the foregoing passage, and brings it into express relation to the conditional clause" (Kran.). דּתכון does not mean, your design or opinion, or your lot (Mich., Hitz., Maur.), but dat is law, decree, sentence; דּתכון, the sentence that is going forth or has gone forth against you, i.e., according to Daniel 2:5, the sentence of death. חדה, one, or the one and no other. This judgment is founded on the following passage, in which the cop. וis to be explained as equivalent to namely. וּשׁחיתה כּדבה, lies and pernicious words, are united together for the purpose of strengthening the idea, in the sense of wicked lies (Hitz.). הזמנתון is not to be read, as Hv., v. Leng., Maur., and Kran. do, as the Aphel הזמנתּוּן: ye have prepared or resolved to say; for in the Aphel this word (זמן) means to appoint or summon a person, but not to prepare or appoint a thing (see Buxt. Lex. Tal. s. v.). And the supposition that the king addressed the Chaldeans as the speakers appointed by the whole company of the wise men (Kran.) has no place in the text. The Kethiv הזּמּנתּוּן is to be read as Ithpa. for הזדּמּנתּוּן according to the Keri (cf. hizakuw הזּכּוּ for הזדּכּוּ, Isaiah 1:16), meaning inter se convenire, as the old interpreters rendered it. "Till the time be changed," i.e., till the king either drop the matter, or till they learn something more particular about the dream through some circumstances that may arise. The lies which Nebuchadnezzar charged the wise men with, consisted in the explanation which they promised if he would tell them the dream, while their desire to hear the dream contained a proof that they had not the faculty of revealing secrets. The words of the king clearly show that he knew the dream, for otherwise he would not have been able to know whether the wise men spoke the truth in telling him the dream (Klief.).
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