Daniel 4:1
Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
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(1) Peace . . .—For this mode of address comp. Ezra 4:17; Ezra 7:12. The date of the matter recorded in this chapter cannot be ascertained, as a blank falls upon the last eighteen years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. The only facts that occurred during this period, so far as is known, are the terrible form of mania from which the king suffered, by reason of which he was kept under restraint for some time, and the further extension of his dominions after his recovery (Daniel 4:34).

All the earth—By this time the king has become so powerful that he regards himself as universal monarch, so that some time must have elapsed since the events mentioned in the last chapter.

Daniel 4:1-3. Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, &c. — He addresses the proclamation, not only to his own subjects, but to all to whom the writing should come. Peace be multiplied unto you — May all things prosperous happen unto you. The Chaldee is, Your peace be multiplied: a usual form of addressing the subjects of this vast empire. I thought it good to show the signs, &c., that the high God hath wrought toward me — Namely, by signifying to him future things of so extraordinary a kind, as could not naturally have been supposed to happen; and in bringing to pass some of them upon himself in a most wonderful manner. How great are his signs, &c. — “The king’s repeated experience had extorted from him the sublime confession contained in this verse; the latter part of which is a fine display of the infinite power and dominion of the true God.” — Wintle.

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.Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people ... - The Syriac here has, "Nebuchadnezzar the king wrote to all people, etc." Many manuscripts in the Chaldee have שׁלח shâlach, "sent," and some have כתב kethab, "wrote;" but neither of these readings are probably genuine, nor are they necessary. The passage is rather a part of the edict of the king than a narrative of the author of the book, and in such an edict the comparatively abrupt style of the present reading would be what would be adopted. The Septuagint has inserted here a historical statement of the fact that Nebuchadnezzar did actually issue such an edict: "And Nebuchadnezzar the king wrote an encyclical epistle - ἐπιστολὴν ἐγκύκλιον epistolēn egkuklion - to all those nations in every place, and to the regions, and to all the tongues that dwell in all countries, generations and generations: 'Nebuchadnezzar the king,'" etc. But nothing of this is in the original.

Unto all people, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth - That is, people speaking all the languages of the earth. Many nations were under the scepter of the king of Babylon; but it would seem that he designed this as a general proclamation, not only to those who were embraced in his empire, but to all the people of the world. Such a proclamation would be much in accordance with the Oriental style. Compare the note at Daniel 3:4.

Peace be multiplied unto you - This is in accordance with the usual Oriental salutation. Compare Genesis 43:23; Judges 6:23; 1 Samuel 25:6; Psalm 122:7; Luke 10:5; Ephesians 6:23; 1 Peter 1:2. This is the salutation with which one meets another now in the Oriental world - the same word still being retained, "Shalom," or "Salam." The idea seemed to be, that every blessing was found in peace, and every evil in conflict and war. The expression included the wish that they might be preserved from all that would disturb them; that they might be contented, quiet, prosperous, and happy. When it is said "peace be multiplied," the wish is that it might abound, or that they might be blessed with the numberless mercies which peace produces.


Da 4:1-37. Edict of Nebuchadnezzar Containing His Second Dream, Relating to Himself.

Punished with insanity for his haughtiness, he sinks to the level of the beasts (illustrating Ps 49:6, 12). The opposition between bestial and human life, set forth here, is a key to interpret the symbolism in the seventh chapter concerning the beasts and the Son of man. After his conquests, and his building in fifteen days a new palace, according to the heathen historian, Abydenus (268 B.C.), whose account confirms Daniel, he ascended upon his palace roof (Da 4:29, Margin), whence he could see the surrounding city which he had built, and seized by some deity, he predicted the Persian conquest of Babylon, adding a prayer that the Persian leader might on his return be borne where there is no path of men, and where the wild beasts graze (language evidently derived by tradition from Da 4:32, 33, though the application is different). In his insanity, his excited mind would naturally think of the coming conquest of Babylon by the Medo-Persians, already foretold to him in the second chapter.

1. Peace—the usual salutation in the East, shalom, whence "salaam." The primitive revelation of the fall, and man's alienation from God, made "peace" to be felt as the first and deepest want of man. The Orientals (as the East was the cradle of revelation) retained the word by tradition.Nebuchadnezzar acknowledgeth God’s eternal dominion, Daniel 4:1-3. He relateth a dream which the magicians could not interpret, Daniel 4:4-7. Daniel hearing the dream, Daniel 4:3-18, interpreteth it, Daniel 4:19-27. The dream fulfilled in Nebuchadnezzar’s loss of dignity and reason for a time; which being restored to him, he glorifieth God, Daniel 4:28-37.

The prophet Daniel here sets down another strange story, after he had finished that of the three young men: this the prophet sets forth not in his own words, but in the words of the king’s own proclamation, that it might pass with undoubted credit, and without all dispute; being sent to all his vast kingdoms, and questionless put into the king’s archives and court rolls, as the manner was. These three first verses of this fourth chapter are improperly annexed to the end of the foregoing third chapter, by some; seeing they are the preface of the following history.

Peace be multiplied unto you, i.e. all health and happiness: this was always the form of greeting and salutation among the Eastern nations, comprehending peace, plenty, with uninterrupted joy and felicity in all comfortable enjoyments: and from them it came derived down to the penmen of the New Testament, and notes more, even peace with God in Jesus Christ, spiritual and everlasting. Now the reason hereof was, that war being the root of all misery, especially where all government was tyrannical, and when once it brake forth, it made all desolate; therefore peace was as heaven in comparison of the hell of war, which made the heathens paint Plutus the god of riches in the bosom of peace.

Nebuchadnezzar the king,..... This and the two following verses are annexed to the preceding chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and in the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions; as if the author of the division of the chapters thought that Nebuchadnezzar proposed by this public proclamation to celebrate the praise of the Lord, on account of the wonderful deliverance of the three Jews from the fiery furnace; whereas they are a preface to a narrative of a dream, and an event which concerned himself, and most properly begin a new chapter, as they do in the Syriac and Arabic versions. The edict begins, not with pompous and extravagant titles, as was the manner of the eastern monarchs, and still is, but only plainly "Nebuchadnezzar the king"; for he was now humbled under the mighty hand of God; whether his conversion was real is not evident; yet, certain it is, he expresses himself in stronger language concerning the divine Being and his works, and under a deeper sense of his sovereignty and majesty, than ever he did before. This proclamation is directed

unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; belonging to his kingdom, as Aben Ezra; and these were many; besides the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Chaldeans, also the Medes and Persians, the Egyptians, the Jews, and the nations round about them; and also the Spaniards, Moors, and Thracians, with others: but there is no reason to limit this to his own subjects, though first designed; for it was his desire that all people whatever in the known world might read, hear, and consider, what the grace of God had done unto him, with him, and for him, and learn to fear and reverence him:

peace be multiplied unto you: a wish for all kind of outward happiness and prosperity, and an increase of it; thus it becomes a prince to wish for all his subjects, and even for all the world; for there cannot be a greater blessing than peace, nor a greater judgment than war. This phrase is borrowed from the common salutation in eastern countries, and is used often in the New Testament for spiritual and eternal peace.

Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the {o} earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.

(o) Meaning, as far as his dominion extended.

1. all the peoples, nations, and languages] Daniel 3:4.

that dwell in all the earth] The hyperbole seems to us extravagant; but it must be remembered that ‘all the earth’ in the O.T. has not the meaning which we attach to the expression, but denotes (substantially) Western Asia, from Elam and Media on the E., to Egypt and the ‘isles of the sea’ (i.e. the E. part of the Mediterranean Sea[235]) on the West, and that the greater part of this did fall within the real or nominal sovereignty of the Assyrian and Babylonian kings (cf. of Nebuchadnezzar himself, Jeremiah 25:26, “all the kingdoms which are upon the face of the earth,” and the preceding enumeration, Daniel 4:17-25; Jeremiah 27:5-6). Standing titles of the Assyrian kings are ‘king of multitudes’ (= of the world), ‘king of the four quarters of the earth’; and the same titles are adopted by Nabu-na’id, the last king of Babylon (KB[236] iii. 2, p. 97). The Persian kings call themselves similarly, ‘the great king, the king of kings, the king of the lands, the king of this great earth’ (RP[237][238] ix. 73 ff.).

[235] Though of course a few places to the W. of this were known, e.g. Tarshish.

[236] B. Eb. Schrader, Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek (transliterations and translations of Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions), 1889–1900.

[237] P. Records of the Past, first and second series, respectively.

[238] Records of the Past, first and second series, respectively.

Peace be multiplied unto you] so Daniel 6:25 : cf. 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2.

1–3. The Prologue of Nebuchadnezzar’s proclamation.

Verses 1-37. - THE MADNESS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR. We follow here the division of chapters which we find in our English Version, and as, indeed, in all modern versions. The Aramaic concludes the third chapter with the three verses which are placed in our version at the beginning of the fourth chapter. The arrangement of the Aramaic is followed by the Septuagint, by Theodotion, and by Jerome. The Peshitta and Paulus Tellensis follow the more logical division. Luther divides the chapters logically enough, but carries on the numbering of the verses from the preceding chapter. It is difficult to see anything that can even seem to be a reason for this division. It may indicate a suspicion of these verses at the time the chapters were divided. Verse 1 (Aramaic ch. 3:31). - Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. The Septuagint has a different reading here, "The beginning of the letter of Nebuchadnezzar the king to all peoples and tongues dwelling in the whole earth: Peace to you be multiplied." In this reading, the first clause is the heading of all that follows, and the document itself begins with, "Peace to you be multiplied." The absence of the opening words from the Syriac Version of the Septuagint by Paulus Tellensis is against its authenticity. It may have been a scribal note which has slipped into the text. Theodotion is an exact rendering of the Massoretic text. The Peshitta Version appears to have followed a recension between that on which the Septuagint Version is founded and the Massoretic text, "Nebuchadnezzar the king wrote to all nations, peoples, and tongues, Joy be increased to you." The most natural explanation of this uncertainty in the text is that this chapter is a condensation of a longer document. Were the document in question a proclamation of Nebuchadnezzar, his titles would necessarily have followed. These, however, are omitted, and only malka, "king," is retained. The baldness of this seems to have suggested the variations which we find in the Septuagint and the Peshitta. The recension before us gives the beginning of the letter according to the attesting note of the LXX. In the middle of the document condensation by the simple omission of clauses was seen to be awkward and perhaps impossible, so instead a summary is given in the third person. That we have not found the proclamation itself is not extraordinary from the very fragmentary condition in which the annals of Nebuchadnezzar have come down to us. Daniel 4:1(Daniel 3:31-33)

These verses form the introduction

(Note: The connection of these verses with the third chapter in the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin Bibles is altogether improper. The originator of the division into chapters appears to have entertained the idea that Nebuchadnezzar had made known the miracle of the deliverance of the three men from the fiery furnace to his subjects by means of a proclamation, according to which the fourth chapter would contain a new royal proclamation different from that former one, - an idea which was rejected by Luther, who has accordingly properly divided the chapters. Conformably to that division, as Chr. B. Michaelis has well remarked, "prius illud programma in fine capitis tertii excerptum caput sine corpore, posterius vero quod capite IV exhibetur, corpus sine capite, illic enim conspicitur quidem exordium, sed sine narratione, hic vero narratio quidem, sed sine exordio." Quite arbitrarily Ewald has, according to the lxx, who have introduced the words ̓Αρχὴ τῆς ἐπιστολης͂ before Daniel 3:31, and ̓Ετους ὀκτωκαιδεκάτου τῆς βασλείας Ναβουχοδονόσορ ει before Daniel 4:1, enlarged this passage by the superscription: "In the 28th year of the reign of king Nebuchadnezzar, king Nebuchadnezzar wrote thus to all the nations, communities, and tongues who dwell in the whole earth.")

to the manifesto, and consist of the expression of good wishes, and the announcement of its object. The mode of address here used, accompanied by an expression of a good wish, is the usual form also of the edicts promulgated by the Persian kings; cf. Ezra 4:17; Ezra 7:12. Regarding the designation of his subjects, cf. Daniel 3:4. בּכל-ארעא, not "in all lands" (Hv.), but on the whole earth, for Nebuchadnezzar regarded himself as the lord of the whole earth. ותמהיּא אתיּא corresponds with the Hebr. וּמפתים אותת; cf. Deuteronomy 6:22; Deuteronomy 7:19. The experience of this miracle leads to the offering up of praise to God, Daniel 4:33 (Daniel 4:3). The doxology of the second part of Daniel 4:33 occurs again with little variation in Daniel 4:31 (Daniel 4:34), Daniel 7:14, Daniel 7:18, and is met with also in Psalm 145:13, which bears the name of David; while the rendering of עם־דּר , from generation to generation, i.e., as long as generations exist, agrees with Psalm 72:5.

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