Daniel 4:13
I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) A watcher and a holy one—i.e., a holy one who is watchful; translated “angel” by the LXX., but simply transliterated into “Eir” by Theodotion. The word is used twice by the king, and once by Daniel (Daniel 4:23), but it is to be noticed that the prophet substitutes “the Most High” for the words of the king in Daniel 4:17). We must suppose that Nebuchadnezzar dreamed in a language familiar to himself, and that the objects of his dream were things with which his Babylonian education had made him acquainted. According to his mythology, the god of Nergal was regarded as “manifesting himself in watching,” so that he may have dreamed that he witnessed a descent of one of his deities. In this he is corrected by Daniel, being assured that the whole is sent from heaven, that the decree is ordered by the one true God, and that the holy watcher is an angel of God.

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.I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed - In the visions that passed before me as I lay upon my bed, Daniel 4:10.

And, behold, a watcher and an holy one - Or rather, perhaps, "even a holy one;" or, "who was a holy one." He evidently does not intend to refer to two beings, a "watcher," and "one who was holy;" but he means to designate the character of the watcher, that he was holy, or that he was one of the class of "watchers" who were ranked as holy - as if there were others to whom the name "watcher" might be applied who were not holy. So Bertholdt, "not two, but only one, who was both a watcher, and was holy; one of those known as watchers and as holy ones." The copulative ו (v) and may be so used as to denote not an additional one or thing, but to specify something in addition to, or in explanation of, what the name applied would indicate. Compare 1 Samuel 28:3 : "In Ramah, even (ו v) in his own city." 1 Samuel 17:40 : "and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even (ו v) in a scrip."

Compare Psalm 68:9 (10); Amos 3:11; Amos 4:10; Jeremiah 15:13; Isaiah 1:13; Isaiah 13:14; Isaiah 57:11; Ecclesiastes 8:2. - Gesenius, "Lex." The word rendered "watcher" (עיר ‛ı̂yr) is rendered in the Vulgate vigil; in the Greek of Theodotion the word is retained without an attempt to translate it - εἴρ eir; the Codex Chisianus has ἄγγελος angelos - "an angel was sent in his strength from heaven." The original word (עיר ‛ı̂yr) means, properly, "a watcher," from עיר ‛ı̂yr, to be hot and ardent; then to be lively, or active, and then to awake, to be awake, to be awake at night, to watch. Compare Sol 5:2; Malachi 2:12. The word used here is employed to denote one who watches, only in this chapter of Daniel, Daniel 4:13, Daniel 4:17, Daniel 4:23. It is in these places evidently applied to the angels, but "why" this term is used is unknown. Gesenius ("Lex.") supposes that it is given to them as watching over the souls of men.

Jerome (in loc.) says that the reason why the name is given is because they always watch, and are prepared to do the will of God. According to Jerome, the Greek ἴρις iris as applied to the rainbow, and which seems to be a heavenly being sent down to the earth, is derived from this word. Compare the "Iliad," ii. 27. Theodoret says that the name is given to an angel, to denote that the angel is without a body - ἀσώματον asōmaton - "for he that is encompassed with a body is the servant of sleep, but he that is free from a body is superior to the necessity of sleep." The term "watchers," as applied to the celestial beings, is of Eastern origin, and not improbably was derived from Persia. "The seven Amhaspands received their name on account of their great, holy eyes, and so, generally, all the heavenly Izeds watch in the high heaven over the world and the souls of men, and on this account are called the watchers of the world." - Zendavesta, as quoted by Bertholdt, in loc. "The Bun-Dehesh, a commentary on the Zendavesta, contains an extract from it, which shows clearly the name and object of the watchers in the ancient system of Zoroaster. It runs thus: "Ormuzd has set four "watchers" in the four parts of the heavens, to keep their eye upon the host of the stars.

They are bound to keep watch over the hosts of the celestial stars. One stands here as the watcher of his circle; the other there. He has placed them at such and such posts, as watchers over such and such a circle of the heavenly regions; and this by his own power and might. Tashter guards the east, Statevis watches the west, Venant the south, and Haftorang the north." - Rhode, Die heilige Sage des Zendvolks, p. 267, as quoted by Prof. Stuart., in loc. "The epithet "good" is probably added here to distinguish this class of watchers from the "bad" ones, for Ahriman, the evil genius, had "Archdeves" and "Deves," who corresponded in rank with the Amhaspands and Izeds of the Zendavesta, and who "watched" to do evil as anxiously as the others did to do good." - Prof. Stuart. It is not improbable that these terms, as applicable to celestial beings, would be known in the kingdom of Babylon, and nothing is more natural than that it should be so used in this book. It is not found in any of the books of pure Hebrew.

13. watcher and an holy one—rather, "even an holy one." Only one angel is intended, and he not one of the bad, but of the holy angels. Called a "watcher," because ever on the watch to execute God's will [Jerome], (Ps 103:20, 21). Compare as to their watchfulness, Re 4:8, "full of eyes within … they rest not day and night." Also they watch good men committed to their charge (Ps 34:7; Heb 1:14); and watch over the evil to record their sins, and at God's bidding at last punish them (Jer 4:16, 17), "watchers" applied to human instruments of God's vengeance. As to God (Da 9:14; Job 7:12; 14:16; Jer 44:27). In a good sense (Ge 31:49; Jer 31:28). The idea of heavenly "watchers" under the supreme God (called in the Zendavesta of the Persian Zoroaster, Ormuzd) was founded on the primeval revelation as to evil angels having watched for an opportunity until they succeeded in tempting man to his ruin, and good angels ministering to God's servants (as Jacob, Ge 28:15; 32:1, 2). Compare the watching over Abraham for good, and over Sodom for wrath after long watching in vain for good men it it, for whose sake He would spare it, Ge 18:23-33; and over Lot for good, Ge 19:1-38 Daniel fitly puts in Nebuchadnezzar's mouth the expression, though not found elsewhere in Scripture, yet substantially sanctioned by it (2Ch 16:9; Pr 15:3; Jer 32:19), and natural to him according to Oriental modes of thought. By

a watcher is meant an angel, a holy or good angel, the instruments of God, and his messengers to execute God’s judgments, which they watch constantly to perform, Psalm 103:20,21.

I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed,.... The king goes on to relate what other things presented themselves to his imagination in his dream, concerning this tree which signified himself:

and, behold, a watcher: which Saadiah interprets of Bath Kol; but Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Jacchiades, and Ben Melech of an angel; so called because incorporeal, ever watches, and never sleeps, and is always attentive to, and observant of, the commands of God so the angels in the fragment of Enoch are called "egregori", watchers; and the same word is here used in the Alexandrian copy. Some (k) render it "an enemy", "an holy one": according to the sense of the word in 1 Samuel 28:16, and produce it to show that angels are called enemies:

and an Holy One; one of the holy angels that never sinned, nor left their first estate, but continued in it; in which they are established by Christ, and are impeccable; are perfectly pure and holy in their nature and actions: such an one came down from heaven; the place of their abode, as it seemed to Nebuchadnezzar in his dream.

(k) Lex. Kabalist. in voce p. 54, 55.

I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a {g} watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;

(g) Meaning the angel of God, who neither eats nor sleeps, but is always ready to do God's will, and is not infected with man's corruption, but is always holy. And in that he commands to cut down this tree, he knew that it would not be cut down by man, but by God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. a watcher] i.e. not a guardian, but a wakeful one (Aq., Symm., ἐγρήγορος, Vulg. vigil); so Daniel 4:17; Daniel 4:23. The term denotes an angel,—or, possibly, a particular class of angels,—so called, either as being ever ready to fulfil the Divine behests, or as being ever wakeful for some particular purpose (e.g. praise). It is of frequent occurrence in the Book of Enoch (in the Greek ἐγρήγοροι), where it is applied usually (i. 5, x. 9, 15, xii. 4, xiii. 10, xiv. 1, 3, xv. 2, xvi. 1, 2, xci. 15) to the fallen angels, but it is also (xii. 3, and perhaps xii. 2) used of the holy angels, though it is not perfectly clear (see the note in Dillmann’s edition, p. 104 f.) whether it denotes them generally, or whether it is the name of a particular class (cf. Charles on i. 5, xxxix. 12): the use of the synonyms ‘the holy angels who watch’ in xx. 1 (in the Ethiopic, but not in the Greek text[240]) of six archangels, and ‘those who sleep not’ in xxxix. 12, 13, xl. 2, lxi. 12, lxxi. 7, of certain exalted angels who incessantly hymn the Almighty, and guard His throne, does not entirely remove the uncertainty. The same word which is used here is also often used of angels in Syriac; see Payne Smit[241] Thes. Syr. col. 2843–4.

[240] See p. 356 in Charles’ edition (Oxford, 1893).

[241] yne Smith R. Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syriacus.

and a holy one] another term denoting an angel: in the O.T., Job 5:1; Job 15:15, Psalm 89:5; Psalm 89:7, Zechariah 14:5, Daniel 8:13 [A.V. ‘saint’ in these passages: see the note on Daniel 8:13]; and repeatedly in the Book of Enoch, i. 9 (whence Judges 14), xii. 2, xiv. 23, xxxix. 5, &c. (see Charles’ note on i. 9).

Verse 13. - I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven. The Septuagint Version is shorter here, and therefore, other things being equal, is to be preferred, "And I saw in my dream, and an angel was sent in power from heaven." Theodotion is as usual in closer accord with the text of the Massoretic than is the Septuagint; yet he omits "of my head." The Peshitta, yet closer to the Massoretic text, only omits "behold." There is now a change in the vision. The monarch sees "a watcher and a holy one descend." This is rendered rightly by the Septuagint, "an angel." Jephet-ibn-Ali maintains that there are two, and that the watcher is the higher. The word עִיר (eer), "watcher," occurs only in this chapter in the Bible. In the Book of Enoch the name occurs almost a score of times, and is used to designate the archangels. In the present case the word קָדִּישׁ, (qaddeesh), "a holy one," is in all likelihood an explanatory addition, the word being unknown before - probably an adaptation of some Assyrian name. On the other hand, in the Book of Enoch every one is supposed to be as well acquainted with the עִירִים of Daniel as with the cherubim and ophanim of Ezekiel and the seraphim of Isaiah. Does not this imply that, at the time the Book of Enoch was written, the Book of Daniel was equally well known with those of the two other prophets? The latest conceivable date for Enoch is B.C. 130, and so late a date never would have been thought of had there not been a necessity to place its date after that at which critics in their wisdom had placed Daniel. The date above mentioned implies that Judas Maccabaeus is unmentioned in a struggle of which he was the crowning hero. Even grant that later date, it is inconceivable that a single generation could have given Daniel such a place of honour as to be regarded as the equal with Isaiah and Ezekiel. In this connection it is to be noticed that, though the ophunim, "wheels," of Ezekiel are made use of, the soosim, "horses," of Zechariah do not appear in the later books. Yet they are declared to be spirits. If Daniel were a contemporary of Ezekiel, and his writings had thus had time to sink into the mind of the Jewish people, this phenomenon can be understood. Daniel 4:13(Daniel 4:10)

By the words "I saw," etc., a new incident of the dream is introduced. "A watcher and an holy one came down from heaven." וקדּישׁ with the explic. ,ו even, and that too, brings it before us in a very expressive way that the עיר was an "holy one." עיר is not to be combined with ציר, a messenger, but is derived from עוּר, to watch, and corresponds with the Hebr. ער, Sol 5:2; Malachi 2:12, and signifies not keeping watch, but being watchful, one who is awake, as the scholium to the εἴρ of Theodotion in the Cod. Alex. explains it: ἐγρήγορος καὶ ἄγρυπνος. Similarly Jerome remarks: "significat angelos, quod semper vigilent et ad Dei imperium sint parati." From this place is derived the name of ἐγρήγορος for the higher angels, who watch and slumber not, which is found in the book of Enoch and in other apocryphal writings, where it is used of good and of bad angels or demons. The designation of the angel as עיר is peculiar to this passage in the O.T. This gives countenance to the conjecture that it is a word associated with the Chaldee doctrine of the gods. Kliefoth quite justly, indeed, remarks, that this designation does not come merely from the lips of Nebuchadnezzar, but is uttered also by the holy watcher himself (Daniel 4:14), as well as by Daniel; and he draws thence the conclusion, that obviously the holy watcher himself used this expression first of himself and the whole council of his companions, that Nebuchadnezzar used the same expression after him (Daniel 4:10), and that Daniel again adopted it from Nebuchadnezzar. Thence it follows that by the word angel we are not to understand a heathen deity; for as certainly as, according to this narrative, the dream was given to Nebuchadnezzar by God, so certainly was it a messenger of God who brought it. But from this it is not to be concluded that the name accords with the religious conceptions of Nebuchadnezzar and of the Babylonians. Regarding the Babylonian gods Diod. Sic. ii. 30, says: "Under the five planets ( equals gods) are ranked thirty others whom they call the counselling gods (θεοὶ βούλαιοι), the half of whom have the oversight of the regions under the earth, and the other half oversee that which goes on on the earth, and among men, and in heaven. Every ten days one of these is sent as a messenger of the stars from the upper to the lower, and at the same time also one from the lower to the upper regions."

If, according to Daniel 4:14, the עירין constitute a deliberative council forming a resolution regarding the fate of men, and then one of these עירין comes down and makes known the resolution to the king, the conclusion is tenable that the עירין correspond to the θεοὶ βούλαιοι of the Babylonians. The divine inspiration of the dream corresponds with this idea. The correct thought lay at the foundation of the Chaldean representation of the θεοὶ βούλαιοι, that the relation of God to the world was mediate through the instrumentality of heavenly beings. The biblical revelation recognises these mediating beings, and calls them messengers of God, or angels and holy ones. Yea, the Scripture speaks of the assembling of angels before the throne of God, in which assemblies God forms resolutions regarding the fate of men which the angels carry into execution; cf. Job 1:6., 1 Kings 22:19., Psalm 89:8 (7). Accordingly, if Nebuchadnezzar's dream came from God, we can regard the עיר as an angel of God who belonged to the קדשׁים סוד around the throne of God (Psalm 89:8). But this angel announced himself to the Chaldean king not as a messenger of the most high God, not as an angel in the sense of Scripture, but he speaks (Psalm 89:14) of עירין גּזרת, of a resolution of the watchers, a fatum of the θεοὶ βούλαιοι who have the oversight of this world. The conception עירין גּזרת is not biblical, but Babylonian heathen. According to the doctrine of Scripture, the angels do not determine the fate of men, but God alone does, around whom the angels stand as ministering spirits to fulfil His commands and make known His counsel to men. The angel designates to the Babylonian king the divine resolution regarding that judgment which would fall upon him from God to humble him for his pride as "the resolution of the watchers," that it might be announced to him in the way most easily understood by him as a divine judgment. On the other hand, one may not object that a messenger of God cannot give himself the name of a heathen deity, and that if Nebuchadnezzar had through misunderstanding given to the bringer of the dream the name of one of his heathen gods, Daniel ought, in interpreting the dream, to have corrected the misunderstanding, as Klief. says. For the messenger of God obviated this misunderstanding by the explanation that the matter was a decree of the watchers, to acknowledge the living God, that the Most High rules over the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever He will (Daniel 4:17), whereby he distinctly enough announces himself as a messenger of the Most High, i.e., of the living God. To go yet further, and to instruct the king that his religious conceptions of the gods, the עירין, or θεοὶ βούλαιοι, were erroneous, inasmuch as, besides the Highest, the only God, there are no other gods, but only angels, who are no θεοί, but creatures of God, was not at all necessary fore the purpose of his message. This purpose was only to lead Nebuchadnezzar to an acknowledgment of the Most High, i.e., to an acknowledgment that the Most High rules as King of heaven over the kingdom of men. Now, since this was declared by the messenger of God, Daniel in interpreting the dream to the king needed to say nothing more than what he said in vv. 21, 22 (24, 25), where he designates the matter as a resolution of the Most High, and thereby indirectly corrects the view of the king regarding the "resolutions of the watchers," and gives the king distinctly to understand that the humiliation announced to him was determined,

(Note: We must altogether reject the assertion of Berth., v. Leng., Hitz., and Maur., that the language of this verse regarding the angel sent to Nebuchadnezzar is formed in accordance with the Persian representation of the seven Amschaspands (Amēschȧ-cpenta), since, according to the judgment of all those most deeply conversant with Parsism, the doctrine of the Amēschȧ-cpenta does not at all occur in the oldest parts of the Avesta, and the Avesta altogether is not so old as that the Babylonian doctrine of the gods can be shown to be dependent on the Zend doctrine of the Parsees.)

not by the θεοὶ βούλαιοι of the Babylonians, but by the only true God, whom Daniel and his people worshipped. For Nebuchadnezzar designates עיר as קדּישׁ in the same sense in which, in Daniel 4:5, he speaks of the holy gods.

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