This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now you, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, for as much as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation: but you are able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)This dream.—More correctly translated, This in a dream I saw—i.e., it was communicated to me in a vision.
Forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom ... - Daniel 4:7.
But thou art able ... - See the notes at Daniel 4:9.
the living—not as distinguished from the dead, but from the inhabitants of heaven, who "know" that which the men of the world need to the taught (Ps 9:16); the ungodly confess there is a God, but would gladly confine Him to heaven. But, saith Daniel, God ruleth not merely there, but "in the kingdom of men."
basest—the lowest in condition (1Sa 2:8; Lu 1:52). It is not one's talents, excellency, or noble birth, but God's will, which elevates to the throne. Nebuchadnezzar abased to the dunghill, and then restored, was to have in himself an experimental proof of this (Da 4:37).
now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof; at once, directly; as he was well assured he could, by what he had already done; having both told him his dream when forgotten by him, and the meaning of it; and therefore doubted not but he could interpret his dream, being told him:
forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation; he had sent for them, even all of them; he had told them his dream, but they could not interpret it; see Daniel 4:6,
but thou art able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee; he not only knew his ability from former experience, but for the reason here given; of which he might have more proofs than one, that the Spirit, not of impure deities, of the gods and demons of the Heathens, but of the one true, living, and holy God, who knows all things, dwelt in him; see Daniel 4:9.This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. Nebuchadnezzar closes his description of his dream by appealing to Daniel to interpret it.
for the spirit &c.] See Daniel 4:8.Verse 18. - This dream I King Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation; but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee. This verse is wholly omitted in the Septuagint. On the other hand, the verse in the Septuagint which occupies this place is totally different from anything in the Massoretic text: "Before me was it cut down in one day, and its destruction was in one hour of the day, and its branches were given to every wind, and it was driven out and dragged forth, and it ate the grass of the earth, and it was delivered to a guard, and in brazen fetters and shackles was it bound with them. I marvelled exceedingly at these things, and the sleep departed from mine eyes." The first thing that strikes one with this is the fact that it is a translation from Aramaic. The clause, "in brazen fetters and shackles was it bound with them," seems nearly demonstrative of this. Ἐν πέδαις καὶ ἐν χειροπέδαις χαλκαῖς ἐδέθη ὑπ αὐτῶν is not a sentence which any one would naturally write in Greek, but the sentence is natural if the translator followed his Aramaic original slavishly. If, then, this is correct, the hypothesis of a falsarius is reduced to that of an Aramaic falsarius, who intruded this verse into the Aramaic original which was conveyed down to Egypt. On the other hand, the verse in the Septuagint completes the narrative which the Massoretic text leaves unfinished. This may be used. as an argument against the authenticity of this version, as the need of completion may have suggested the mode in which the need was to be supplied. But it is also to be noted that there is present the same mixture of sign and thing signified, which, natural in a dream, is so unnatural in ordinary narration, that the falsarius who had observed the incompleteness of the Massoretic text, and had the necessary skill to supply the want, would not have increased the confusion, already manifest enough. When we turn to Theodotion, we see symptoms of trouble, "This is the vision which I Nebuchadnezzar the king had, and thou, Beltasar, tell the interpretation, because none of the wise men of my kingdom were able to show me its interpretation; but thou, Daniel, art able, because a holy spirit of God is in thee." The introduction of the Jewish name Daniel in the midst of a speech in which he is always elsewhere addressed by his Bahylonian name, is suspicious. The repetition, in this as in the Masoretic, of the original incongruity that Daniel, the head of the court magicians, is only summoned after the other magicians have proved unable to solve the mystery of this dream, is to be noted. The Peshitta here partly follows the same text as that followed by Theodotion, and partly that of the Massoretes. Like Theodotion, "Daniel" is inserted, but, following the basis of the Massoretic text in opposition to Theodotion, it has "a spirit of the holy gods." There seems no possibility of imagining the LXX. reading to have developed from the Massoretic, or vice versa. If there were any proof of Dr. C. H. H. Wright's hypothesis, that our present Daniel was a condensation of a larger work, it might be supposed that the Massoretic represented one condensation, and the LXX. another. The Septuagint at this point inserts, "And having risen early in the morning,. I summoned Daniel, the ruler of the wise men and chief of the interpreters, and related to him the dream, and he showed all the interpretation of it." In Genesis 41. we have two accounts of Pharaoh's dream, first in connection with his actual dreaming, and next in his narrating to Joseph his experience. If the original tract - from the union of several of which we imagine our book has been compiled - from which this chapter is condensed contained, like Genesis 41, two accounts of Nebuchadnezzar's vision, and the Egyptian recension followed one condensation of this tract, and the Palestinian another, the phenomena are explicable without the idea of a vague gratuitous variation, such as that of which, on the traditional view, the writer of the Septuagint has been guilty. On the ground that the Massoretic text may represent also a true text of Daniel, another fragment of the original document, we may examine it a little more closely. The king declares the dream to Daniel in a way that indicates a certain attestation of the accuracy of the report of what he had seen. "This is the dream which I Nebuchadnezzar the king saw." Then follows the command to declare the interpretation, "You are master of magicians. I have duly brought before you an accredited dream which I have had, fulfil now your office, interpret to me my dream." This much is natural. What follows is an obvious interpolation. It contradicts what has preceded, which, by implication, asserts Daniel's duty to interpret, and therefore the probability that not last, but first, would Daniel have been appealed to. It contradicts also what follows, which is a commendation of Daniel's powers, which, as known to the king, ought to have led him at once to summon him, as the Septuagint says Nebuchadnezzar did. The commendation of Daniel appears an addition to get over the difficulty, but, like many other attempts of the same kind, it fails, and really adds to the confusion.
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