Daniel 4:15
Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
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(15) The stump.—The whole tree was not to be destroyed, but just so much was to remain as could produce a new sapling. (Comp. Isaiah 11:1.) As long as the stump remained, it might be hoped that the green branches might shoot forth again. (Comp. Daniel 4:36.)

A band.—As the vision continues, the typical language is gradually laid aside, and it begins to appear that by the tree a man is intended. We must not understand by “the band” the chains by which the unfortunate king would be confined, but metaphorically trouble and affliction, as Psalm 107:10; Psalm 149:8. It has been assumed that during his malady the king wandered about at large. This is highly improbable. That his courtiers did not avail themselves of his sickness to substitute some other king in his place is sufficient proof of their regard for him. It is natural to suppose that he was confined in some court of his palace. The inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar, and accounts of his reign written by historians, being all composed with the view of glorifying the monarch, naturally suppress all mention of his madness.

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.Nevertheless, leave the stump of his roots in the earth - As of a tree that is not wholly dead, but which may send up suckers and shoots again. See the note at Isaiah 11:1. In Theodotion this is, τὴν φυήν τῶν ῥιξῶν tēn phuēn tōn rizōn - the nature, germ. Schleusner renders the Greek, "the trunk of its roots." The Vulgate is, germen radicum ejus, "the germ of his roots." The Codex Chisianus has: ῥίξαν μίαν ἄφετε ἀυτοῦ ἐν τῇ γῇ rizan mian aphete autou en tē gē - "leave one of his roots in the earth." The original Chaldee word (עקר ‛ı̂qqar) means a "stump, trunk" (Gesenius); the Hebrew - עקר ‛ēqer - the same word with different pointing, means a shrub, or shoot. It occurs only once in Hebrew Lev 25:47, where it is applied to the stock of a family, or to a person sprung from a foreign family resident in the Hebrew territory: "the stock of the stranger's family." The Chaldee form of the word occurs only in Daniel 4:15, Daniel 4:23, Daniel 4:26, rendered in each place "stump," yet not meaning "stump" in the sense in which that word is now commonly employed. The word "stump" now means the stub of a tree; the part of the tree remaining in the earth, or projecting above it after the tree is cut down, without any reference to the question whether it be alive or dead. The word here used implies that it was still alive, or that there was a germ which would send up a new shoot, so that the tree would live again. The idea is, that though the mighty tree would fall, yet there would remain vitality in the root, or the portion that would remain in the earth after the tree was cut down, and that this would spring up again - a most striking image of what would occur to Nebuchadnezzar after he should be cast down from his lofty throne, and be again restored to his reason and to power.

Even with a band of iron and brass - This expression may be regarded as applicable either to the cut-down tree, or to the humbled monarch. If applied to the former, it would seem that the idea is, that the stump or root of a tree, deemed so valuable, would be carefully secured by an enclosure of iron or brass, either in the form of a hoop placed round the top of the stump, to preserve it from being opened or cracked by the heat of the sun, so as to admit moisture, which would rot it; or around the roots, to bind it together, with the hope that it would grow again; or it may refer to a railing or enclosure of iron or brass, to keep it from being plowed or dug up as worthless. In either case, it would be guarded with the hope that a tree so valuable might spring up again. If applied to the monarch - an explanation not inconsistent with the proper interpretation of the passage - it would seem to refer to some method of securing the royal maniac in bonds of iron and brass, as with the hope that his reason might still be restored, or with a view to keep him from inflicting fatal injury on himself. That the thing here referred to might be practiced in regard to a valuable tree cut down, or broken down, is by no means improbable; that it might be practiced in reference to the monarch is in accordance with the manner in which the insane have been treated in all ages and countries.

In the tender grass of the field - Out of doors; under no shelter; exposed to dews and rains. The stump would remain in the open field where the grass grew, until it should shoot up again; and in a condition strongly resembling that, the monarch would be excluded from his palace and from the abodes of men. For the meaning of this, as applied to Nebuchadnezzar, see the note at Daniel 4:25. The word which is rendered "tender grass," means simply young grass or herbage. No emphasis should be put on the word tender. It simply means that he would be abroad where the grass springs up and grows.

And let it be wet with the dew of heaven - As applied to the tree, meaning that the dew would fall on it and continually moisten it. The falling of the dew upon it would contribute to preserve it alive and secure its growth again. In a dry soil, or if there were no rain or dew, the germ would die. It cannot be supposed that, in regard to the monarch, it could be meant that his remaining under the dew of heaven would in any way contribute to restore his reason, but all that is implied in regard to him is the fact that he would thus be an outcast. The word rendered "let it be wet" - יצטבע yı̂tseṭaba‛ from צבע tseba‛ - means, to dip in, to immerse; to tinge; to dye; though the word is not found in the latter senses in the Chaldee. In the Targums it is often used for "to dye, to color." The word occurs only in this chapter of Daniel Dan 4:15, Daniel 4:23, Daniel 4:33 and is in each place rendered in the same way. It is not used in the Hebrew scripture in the sense of to dye or tinge, except in the form of a noun - צבע tseba‛ - in Judges 5:30 : "To Sisera a prey of divers colors, a prey of divers colors of needlework, of divers colors of needlework." In the passage before us, of course, there is no allusion of this kind, but the word means merely that the stump of the tree would be kept moist with the dew; as applicable to the tree that it might be more likely to sprout up again.

And let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth - Here is a change evidently from the tree to something represented by the tree. We could not say of a tree that its "portion was with the beasts in the grass," though in the confused and incongruous images of a dream, nothing would be more natural than such a change from a tree to some object represented by it, or having some resemblance to it. It is probable that it was this circumstance that particularly attracted the attention of the monarch, for though the dream began with a "tree," it ended with reference to "a person," and evidently some one whose station would be well represented by such a magnificent and solitary tree. The sense here is, "let him share the lot of beasts; let him live as they do:" that is, let him live on grass. Compare Daniel 4:25.

15. stump—The kingdom is still reserved secure for him at last, as a tree stump secured by a hoop of brass and iron from being split by the sun's heat, in the hope of its growing again (Isa 11:1; compare Job 14:7-9). Barnes refers it to the chaining of the royal maniac. Here he mitigates and corrects the former rigour of his sentence, that the kingdom should remain, with hope of return and readmission: God cuts off many flourishing kingdoms to the stumps, by spoiling their riches, beauty, and majesty.

In the tender grass of the field: let the body of Nebuchadnezzar be preserved, and the king doth remain firm, though he be turned out to grass for a while among the beasts.

Nevertheless, leave the stump of his roots in the earth,.... Let him not be utterly destroyed, or his life taken away; but let him continue in being; though in a forlorn condition, yet with hope of restoration; for a tree may be cut down to the stump, and yet revive again, Job 14:7 and let his kingdom remain:

even with a band of iron and brass; which some think was done to preserve it and to show that his kingdom remained firm and immovable; but that is meant by the former clause, Daniel 4:26, rather the allusion is to his distracted condition afterwards related; it being usual to bind madmen with chains of iron or brass, to keep them from hurting themselves and others, as in Mark 5:4,

in the tender grass of the field; where his dwelling should be, not in Babylon, and in his fine palace, living sumptuously as he now did; but in the field, grazing there like a beast, and like one that is feddered and confined to a certain place:

and let it be wet with the dew of heaven; suggesting that this would not only be his case in the daytime; but that he should lie all night in the field, and his body be wet all over with the dew that falls in the night, as if he had been dipped in a dyer's vat, as the word (m) signifies; and Jarchi says it has the signification of dipping; and not be in a stately chamber, and on a bed of down, but on a plot of grass, exposed to all the inclemencies of the air:

and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth; instead of feeding on royal dainties, as he had all his days, let him eat grass like the beasts of the field, as it seems he did.

(m) "tingatur", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster; "intingatur", Junius & Tremellius; "tingetur", Piscator, Michaelis.

Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
15. The destruction of the tree, however, is not to be total: a stump is to be left, which may ultimately grow again.

even in a band of iron and brass] Unless it might be supposed that it was customary, for any purpose, to place a metal band round the stump of a tree which had been cut down, the figure, it seems, must be here abandoned. Whether, however, that be the case or not, the reference, as the interpretation shews, is to something which Nebuchadnezzar would experience during his madness,—probably, either (Keil) the loss of mental freedom, or (Prince) the physical restraint and confinement to which he would naturally have then to submit.

in the tender grass of the field] There would be nothing remarkable in a tree being surrounded by grass; the tree, it is evident, must symbolize something for which such a position would be unnatural. What that is appears more distinctly in the sequel.

let his portion be, &c.] Let him share with them in the herbage of the earth.

herbage] the word used is a wider one than either ‘grass’ or ‘tender (i.e. young) grass,’ and includes vegetables and small shrubs (Genesis 1:11-12).

Verse 15. - Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Again the Septuagint differs considerably from the received text, "And thus he said, Leave one root of it in the earth, in order that it may with the beasts of the earth browse in the mountains on grass like an ox." As the reading is the briefer, it is on the whole to be preferred, the more so that the belt of iron and brass is got rid cf. The Septuagint assumes that the work of demolishing the tree had gone on to some extent, and then the watcher intervenes to bring forward this limitation to the completeness of the destruction at first enjoined. Theodotion is in agreement with the Massoretic text, as also the Peshitta. Moses Stuart thinks the belt of iron and brass is represented as being put round the stump of the tree in order to prevent it cracking, and so rotting, in this following yon Langerke. Keil, with more justice, thinks that this is a transition from the symbol to the person symbolized; in this view he agrees with Hengstenberg, Kliefoth, Zockler, Behrmann, Hitzig, Ewald, Kranichfeld, and others. There is a further division of opinion as to whether it symbolizes the mental darkness Nebuchadnezzar will be under, or the limitation of his kingdom, or the fact that, as a maniac, he will be bound with fetters. The fact that, while commentators have devoted so much time to this, there is no reference to it in the interpretation, confirms us in our suspicion of the whole clause. The transition to the person, if barely doubtful in regard to the belt of iron and brass, is obvious in the remaining clauses in this verse. Every tree is wet with the dew of heaven - that would indicate neither degradation nor hardship; and the browsing with the boasts is impossible to a tree. The transition from thing to person is in perfect accordance with what every one has experienced in dreams. Daniel 4:15(Daniel 4:11-12)

The messenger of God cried with might (cf. Daniel 3:4), "as a sign of the strong, firm utterance of a purpose" (Kran.). The command, Hew it down, is not given to the angels (Hv., Hitz., Auberl.). The plur. here is to be regarded as impersonal: the tree shall be cut down. אתּרוּ stands for אתּרוּ according to the analogy of the verbs 3rd gutt., from נתד, to fall off, spoken of withering leaves. In consequence of the destruction of the tree, the beasts which found shelter under it and among its branches flee away. Yet the tree shall not be altogether destroyed, but its stock (v. 12 15) shall remain in the earth, that it may again afterwards spring up and grow into a tree. The stem is not the royalty, the dynasty which shall remain in the house of Nebuchadnezzar (Hv.), but the tree with its roots is Nebuchadnezzar, who shall as king be cut down, but shall as a man remain, and again shall grow into a king. But the stock must be bound "with a band of iron and brass." With these words, to complete which we must supply שׁבקוּ from the preceding context, the language passes from the type to the person represented by it. This transition is in the last part of the verse: with the beasts of the field let him have his portion in the grass of the earth; for this cannot be said of the stock with the roots, therefore these words are in the interpretation also (Daniel 4:22 [25]) applied directly to Nebuchadnezzar. But even in the preceding passages this transition is not doubtful. Neither the words in the grass of the field, nor the being wet with the dew of heaven, are suitable as applied to the stock of the tree, because both expressions in that case would affirm nothing; still less is the band of iron and brass congruous, for the trunk of a tree is not wont to be surrounded with bands of iron in order to prevent its being rent in pieces and completely destroyed. Thus the words refer certainly to Nebuchadnezzar; but the fastening in brass and iron is not, with Jerome and others, to be understood of the binding of the madman with chains, but figuratively or spiritually of the withdrawal of free self-determination through the fetter of madness; cf. The fetters of affliction, Psalm 107:10; Job 36:8. With this fettering also agrees the going forth under the open heaven among the grass of the field, and the being wet with the dew of heaven, without our needing thereby to think of the maniac as wandering about without any oversight over him.

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