Daniel 4:12
The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
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(12) The fruit thereof much.—By this is implied the great quantity of fruit as well as the largeness of it.

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.The leaves thereof were fair - Were beautiful. That is, they were abundant, and green, and there were no signs of decay. Everything indicated a vigorous and healthy growth - a tree in its full beauty and majesty - a striking emblem of a monarch in his glory.

And the fruit thereof much - It was loaded with fruit - showing that the tree was in its full vigour.

And in it was meat for all - Food for all, for so the word meat was formerly used. This would indicate the dependence of the multitudes on him whom the tree represented, and would also denote that he was a liberal dispenser of his favors.

The beasts of the field had shadow under it - Found a grateful shade under it in the burning heat of noon - a striking emblem of the blessings of a monarchy affording protection, and giving peace to all under it.

And the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof - The fowls of the air. They built their nests and reared their young there undisturbed, another striking emblem of the protection afforded under the great monarchy designed to be represented.

And all flesh was fed of it - All animals; all that lived. It furnished protection, a home, and food for all. Bertholdt renders this, "all men." In the Greek Codex Chisianus there is the following version or paraphrase given of this passage: "Its vision was great, its top reached to the heaven, and its breadth (κῦτος kutos) to the clouds - they filled the things (τὰ ta) under the heaven - there was a sun and moon, they dwelt in it, and enlightened all the earth."

12. beasts … shadow under it—implying that God's purpose in establishing empires in the world is that they may be as trees affording men "fruits" for "meat," and a "shadow" for "rest" (compare La 4:20). But the world powers abuse their trust for self; therefore Messiah comes to plant the tree of His gospel kingdom, which alone shall realize God's purpose (Eze 17:23; Mt 13:32). Herodotus [7.19] mentions a dream (probably suggested by the tradition of this dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel) which Xerxes had; namely, that he was crowned with olive, and that the branches of the olive filled the whole earth, but that afterwards the crown vanished from his head: signifying his universal dominion soon to come to an end. The fruit thereof much: this notes the public good and benefit of magistracy; so that it is better living under tyranny than anarchy, as Calvin saith.

The leaves thereof were fair,.... Or "branches" (i), as some; and design either the provinces belonging to his empire, which were very large and flourishing; or the governors of them under him, as Saadiah, who made no small and contemptible figure; his princes were altogether kings:

and the fruit thereof much; great revenues from all parts of the empire were brought to him:

and in it was meat for all; the produce of the several countries, and the trade carried on in them, brought in a sufficient livelihood to all the inhabitants:

the beasts of the field had shadow under it; the inhabitants of the several Heathenish nations under him, and even those that were most savage, were protected in their lives and properties by him; so princes should be a screen, a protection to their subjects:

and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof; which Saadiah interprets of the Israelites, in opposition to the foreign nations, comparable to the beasts of the field:

and all flesh was fed of it; all his subjects shared in the good things his victorious arms brought into his empire; all enriched, or however made comfortable, and had a sufficiency of food and raiment; so that there was no reason to complain of him as oppressive to his subjects.

(i) "ramus ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Vatablus; "ramos ejus", Junius & Tremellius; "rami ejus", Piscator.

The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
12. meat] in the old sense of the word (see on Amos 5:22; and cf. Genesis 1:29-30), food in general, not what we now call ‘meat.’ So Daniel 4:21. The Aram. word occurs in Syr. and the Targums; and twice in the Heb. of the O.T., Genesis 45:23 (A.V. ‘meat,’ R.V. ‘victual’), 2 Chronicles 11:23 (A.V., R.V. ‘victual’).

had shadow … dwelt … was fed of it] Better, were sheltering …, dwelling …, was being fed from it. The tenses of the original denote what was habitual, and therefore might be observed as taking place continuously at the time of the dream. Cf. for the thought Ezekiel 31:6.

Verse 12. - The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. The Septuagint Version here is widely different: "Its branches were thirty furlongs in extent, and underneath its shadow all beasts of the earth took shelter, and in it the birds of heaven made their nests, and its fruit was much and good, and it supplied all living creatures." As already mentioned, this verse occurs before the one we have just been considering. It differs, like it, more than can be explained by a mistake in reading the Massoretic Aramaic; if it were translated from a cuneiform document, it is easily imaginable in what form the statement might be made. The reading, however, is not an unlikely one in the description of a dream, if we could have imagined the Indian banyan tree to have been known to the authors of this version, we might have understood the tree of the dream to have been like it. Theodotion is at one with the Massoretic text, as also the Peshitta. Whether we take the symbol of a tree used for the Babylonian empire, as drawn from the Babylonian tree of life, or merely devised by the poetic fancy of the monarch, inspired for the time, it must be recognized as very apt. From the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, it stretched from the cataracts of the Nile in all probability into Asia Minor. Over all this empire the monarch maintained the attitude of an earthly providence. It was because government was strong that peaceable men could live. It is useless to carry the similitude into the minutiae of Jephet-ibn-Ali, who maintains that the wild beasts are the nomads of the deserts, and the birds the strangers that came to Nebuchadnezzar from far. In the Aramaic here there are traces of the antiquity in the language: the use of inbbaya, "fruit," instead of ibbaya, is one instance. Saggeee (with sin) is a proof that the distinction between שׂ and ס was still understood, and probably beard. It is remarked by Keil that this word does not really mean "much," but rather "great," "strong." Although it is undeniable that he is correct as to the primitive meaning of the word, it can scarcely mean anything else than "much" in the present connection. Mazon, "food," is rare as a Biblical word, but occurs in Genesis as well as Chronicles. Professor Bevan quotes Noldeke in favour of a Mandaean origin for it. Daniel 4:12(Daniel 4:9)

At the same time the tree abounded with leaves and fruit, so that birds and beasts found shadow, protection, and nourishment from it. שׁגיא, neither great nor many, but powerful, expressing the quantity and the greatness of the fruit. The בּהּ the Masoretes have rightly connected with לכלּא, to which it is joined by Maqqeph. The meaning is not: food was in it, the tree had food for all (Hv., Maur., and others), but: (it had) food for all in it, i.e., dwelling within its district (Kran., Klief.). The words, besides, do not form an independent sentence, but are only a further view of the שׁגיא (Kran.), and return in the end of the verse into further expansion, while the first and the second clauses of the second hemistich give the further expansion of the first clause in the verse. אטלל, umbram captavit, enjoyed the shadow; in Targg. The Aphel has for the most part the meaning obumbravit. The Kethiv ידרוּן is not to be changed, since the צפּרין is gen. comm. The Keri is conform to Daniel 4:18, where the word is construed as fem. The expression all flesh comprehends the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven, but is chosen with reference to men represented under this image. For the tree, mighty, reaching even to the heavens, and visible over the whole earth, is an easily recognised symbol of a world-ruler whose power stretches itself over the whole earth. The description of the growth and of the greatness of the tree reminds us of the delineation of Pharaoh and his power under the figure of a mighty cedar of Lebanon, cf. Ezekiel 31:3., also Ezekiel 17:22., Ezekiel 19:10. The comparison of the growth of men to the growth of the trees is every frequent in biblical and other writings.

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