Daniel 4:19
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) Hour.—Literally, moment. (Comp. Daniel 3:6.)

To them that hate thee.—A delicate way of expressing his hopes for the best. “May that which is implied in the interpretation overtake thine enemies.”

Daniel 4:19. Then Daniel was astonied for one hour — “Stood in silent astonishment for nearly an hour,” both at the surprising circumstances of the judgment denounced against the king, and likewise out of a tender regard and respect for his person, who had bestowed so many favours upon him. The Vulgate renders it, cæpit intra seipsum tacitus cogitare, he began to consider in silence within himself, or silently reflected on the particulars of the dream just related. But the LXX. read απηνεωθη, obstupefactus fuit, he was amazed, or confounded. The king said, Let not the dream trouble thee — Whatsoever it be that thou understandest from the dream, tell it freely without fear. Daniel answered, The dream be to them that hate thee — May the ill it portends happen to thy enemies. The words are spoken by the figure called euphemismus, according to which any displeasing or ungrateful thing is signified by a more soft and agreeable mode of expression: see a like instance, 1 Samuel 25:22. “Such rhetorical embellishments are pointed at no individuals, have nothing in them of malice or ill-will, and may be presumed to be free from any imputation of a want of charity.” — Wintle. Daniel thus expresses his dutiful concern for the safety of the king’s person and government. For though Nebuchadnezzar was an idolater, a persecutor, and oppressor of the people of God, yet he was Daniel’s prince, and therefore, though he foresees, and is now going to foretel, ill concerning him, he dares not wish ill to him. Thus Jeremiah had before exhorted the Jewish captives at Babylon to wish and pray for the prosperity of the government under which they lived.

4:19-27 Daniel was struck with amazement and terror at so heavy a judgment coming upon so great a prince, and gives advice with tenderness and respect. It is necessary, in repentance, that we not only cease to do evil, but learn to do good. Though it might not wholly prevent the judgment, yet the trouble may be longer before it comes, or shorter when it does come. And everlasting misery will be escaped by all who repent and turn to God.Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar - Daniel 4:8. It has been objected that the mention in this edict of "both" the names by which Daniel was known is an improbable circumstance; that a pagan monarch would only have referred to him by the name by which he was known in Babylon - the name which he had himself conferred on him in honor of the god ("Belus") after whom he was called. See the note at Daniel 1:7. To this it may be replied, that although in ordinary intercourse with him in Babylon, in addressing him as an officer of state under the Chaldean government, he would undoubtedly be mentioned only by that name; yet, in a proclamation like this, both the names by which he was known would be used - the one to identify him among his own countrymen, the other among the Chaldeans. This proclamation was designed for people of all classes, and ranks, and tongues Daniel 4:1; it was intended to make known the supremacy of the God worshipped by the Hebrews. Nebuchadnezzar had derived the knowledge of the meaning of his dream from one who was a Hebrew, and it was natural, therefore, in order that it might be known by whom the dream had been interpreted, that he should so designate him that it would be understood by all.

Was astonied - Was astonished. The word "astonied," now gone out of use, several times occurs in the common version; Ezra 9:3; Job 17:8; Job 18:20; Ezekiel 4:17; Daniel 3:24; Daniel 4:19; Daniel 5:9. Daniel was "amazed" and "overwhelmed" at what was manifestly the fearful import of the dream.

For one hour - It is not possible to designate the exact time denoted by the word "hour" - שׁעה shâ‛âh. According to Gesenius ("Lex."), it means moment of time; properly, a look, a glance, a wink of the eye - German, "augenblick." In Arabic the word means both a moment and an hour. In Daniel 3:6, Daniel 3:15, it evidently means immediately. Here it would seem to mean a short time. That is, Daniel was fixed in thought, and maintained a profound silence until the king addressed him. We are not to suppose that this continued during the space of time which we call an hour, but he was silent until Nebuchadnezzar addressed him. He would not seem to be willing even to speak of so fearful calamities as he saw were coming upon the king.

And his thoughts troubled him - The thoughts which passed through his mind respecting the fearful import of the dream.

The king spake and said ... - Perceiving that the dream had, as he had probably apprehended, a fearful significancy, and that Daniel hesitated about explaining its meaning. Perhaps he supposed that he hesitated because he apprehended danger to himself if he should express his thoughts, and the king therefore assured him of safety, and encouraged him to declare the full meaning of the vision, whatever that might be.

Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee - Let such things as are foreboded by the dream happen to your enemies rather than to you. This merely implies that he did not desire that these things should come upon him. It was the language of courtesy and of respect; it showed that he had no desire that any calamity should befall the monarch, and that he had no wish for the success of his enemies. There is not, in this, anything necessarily implying a hatred of the enemies of the king, or any wish that calamity should come upon them; it is the expression of an earnest desire that such an affliction might not come upon him. If it must come on any, such was his respect for the sovereign, and such his desire for his welfare and prosperitry, that he preferred that it should fall upon those who were his enemies, and who hated him. This language, however, should not be rigidly interpreted. It is the language of an Oriental; language uttered at a court, where only the words of respect were heard. Expressions similar to this occur not unfrequently in ancient writings. Thus Horace, b. iii. ode 27:

"Hostium uxores puerique caecos

Sentiant motus orientis Austri."

And Virgil, Georg. iii.:513:

"Di meliora piis, erroremque liostibus ilium."

"Such rhetorical embellishments are pointed at no individuals, have nothing in them of malice or ill-will, are used as marks of respect to the ruling powers, and may be presumed to be free from any imputation of a want of charity." - Wintle, in loc.

19. Daniel … Belteshazzar—The use of the Hebrew as well as the Chaldee name, so far from being an objection, as some have made it, is an undesigned mark of genuineness. In a proclamation to "all people," and one designed to honor the God of the Hebrews, Nebuchadnezzar would naturally use the Hebrew name (derived from El, "God," the name by which the prophet was best known among his countrymen), as well as the Gentile name by which he was known in the Chaldean empire.

astonied—overwhelmed with awe at the terrible import of the dream.

one hour—the original means often "a moment," or "short time," as in Da 3:6, 15.

let not the dream … trouble thee—Many despots would have punished a prophet who dared to foretell his overthrow. Nebuchadnezzar assures Daniel he may freely speak out.

the dream be to them that hate thee—We are to desire the prosperity of those under whose authority God's providence has placed us (Jer 29:7). The wish here is not so much against others, as for the king: a common formula (2Sa 18:32). It is not the language of uncharitable hatred.

His thoughts troubled him, because he foresaw such tragical things coming upon the king, for whom he had such reverence for the high favours and honours he had conferred on him, and he was afraid to declare them; these things coming upon him while he was acted by a Spirit of prophecy, doubled his consternation, and troubled his thoughts, Daniel 10:16,17.

Let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee; speak out freely, let the event be what it will.

Though this king were a tyrant, and an enemy of God and his people, yet the prophet is grieved for him, and prayed for him that God would avert his judgments from him, and lay them rather upon his enemies, Jeremiah 29:7.

Then Daniel (whose name was Belteshazzar) was astonied for one hour,.... Not at the difficulty of interpreting the dream, which was plain and easy to him; but at the sad and shocking things he saw plainly by the dream were coming upon the king: and though he was a wicked prince, and justly deserved such treatment; and thus he continued for the space of an hour like one thunder struck, filled with amazement, quite stupid, dumb, and silent:

and his thoughts troubled him; both about what should befall the king, and how he should make it known to him:

the king spake and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee: he saw by his countenance the confusion he was in, and imagined there was something in the dream which portended evil, and made him backward to relate it; and therefore encouraged him to tell it, be it what it would:

Belteshazzar answered and said, my lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies; which is as if he had said, I could have wished, had it been the will of God, that what is signified by the dream might have befallen not the king, but his enemies; this he said, not merely as a courtier, but as one that heartily wished and prayed for his peace and prosperity; and to show that he had no ill will to the king in the interpretation of the dream, but was his hearty faithful servant and minister; and yet suggests that something very dreadful and distressing was intended for him; and hereby he prepared him the better to receive it.

Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was {k} astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.

(k) He was troubled because of the great judgment of God, which he saw ordained against the king. And so the Prophets on the one hand used to make known God's judgments for the zeal they had for his glory, and on the other hand had compassion upon man. And they also considered that they would be subject to God's judgments, if he did not regard them with pity.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. was astonied] better, was stupefied or appalled, viz. as the meaning of the dream flashed across him. The root-idea of the word (שמם) seems to have been to be motionless,—sometimes (cf. on Daniel 8:13) in the stillness of desolation, sometimes, as here, through amazement (so Daniel 8:27). It is not the word used in Daniel 3:24.

about one hour] In view of what was said on Daniel 3:6, however, it is doubted by many whether shâ‘âh is meant here to denote exactly what we call an ‘hour’; and they render accordingly for a moment. Cf. Exodus 33:5, where nearly the same expression (שעה חדא) stands in the Targ. for the Heb. רגע אחד i.e. ‘for a moment.’

his thoughts alarmed (Daniel 4:5) him] he dreaded, viz., to foretell to the king his own disasters. The same phrase, Daniel 5:6; Daniel 5:10, Daniel 7:28. The king, however, observing his confusion, and perceiving from it that he has found the interpretation of the dream, proceeds to reassure him.

19–27. Daniel’s interpretation of the dream.

Verse 19. - Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. Thus far the two main recensions are agreed. The Septuagint renders practically to the same effect as our version, only that ὑπόνοια κατέσπευδεν αὐτόν means rather "suspicions disturbed him," which is the rendering of Paulus Tellensis. There are traces in it of doublet; the rendering of the LXX. is, "And Daniel greatly marvelled, and suspicions disturbed him, and he was terrified, trembling having taken hold of him, and his visage was changed, having moved (κινήσας) his head, having been amazed one hour, he answered me in a meek voice." Theodotion and the Peshitta are at one with the Massoretic text here. It is to be noted here that the word sha'a, translated "hour," has no such definite meaning; Gesenius gives, "a moment of time," in which he is followed by Bevan, Keil, and Stuart. Ewald translates, eine Stunde, and with him agree Hitzig, Kranichfeld, Zockler. Both the Greek versions have ὥραν, but we must bear in mind that ὥρα had not the definite meaning which we attach to "hour." Jerome renders hera. The Septuagint adds, as we have seen, somewhat grotesquely, "having moved (κινήσας) his head, he was astonished for one hour." This seems a case of "doublet," that phenomenon so frequent in the Septuagint. The Septuagint rendering, "And (δὲ) Daniel was greatly astonished, and suspicions troubled him, and, trembling having seized him, he was afraid," suggests that it is not impossible that שׂגי, "greatly," had been read instead of שׁעה, "an hour;" but the rest is not so easily explicable. There is one case of Syriasm here in the vocalization of אֶשְׁתּומַם instead of אִשׁיי. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. This clause is absent from both the Greek versions, though present in the Peshitta and Vulgate. As it stands, on the one hand, it is a departure from the epistolary style, or perhaps rather the proclamative style of the earlier portion of the chapter. On the other hand, if we think this clause an interpolation, we cannot fail to note that the kindly courtesy and consideration ascribed by the interpolator to Nebuchadnezzar is utterly unlike the character of Epiphanes as manifested to the Jews. Nebuchadnezzar saw that Daniel was filled with sorrow and apprehension at the meaning he saw in the vision, and endeavours to reassure and encourage him. If the conduct of Nebuchadnezzar is unlike that which a Jew of B.C. 170 would have ascribed to him were it his intention to present in him Epiphanes under a disguise, still more unlike is the conduct of Daniel to that which certainly would have been ascribed to him had the author intend(,d to represent him as a model of the pious Jew in a heathen court - in the court of Epi-phanes. Would Mattathias have remained astonished and speechless in the presence of Epiphanes, had it been revealed to him that Epiphanes was to be driven out to the wilds a madman? If, then, it is an interpolation, it is an early one - earlier than the Maccabean struggle. But if the interpolation be early, the book interpolated must be yet earlier. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The Septuagint maintains the epistolary character of this narrative here, "And Baltasar answered me with a meek voice, This dream be to those that hate thee, and let the interpretation thereof come upon thine enemies." Theodotion, the Peshitta, and the Vulgate are at one with the ordinary text. The feelings of Daniel towards Nebuchadnezzar seem to have been those of the highest personal loyalty, and thus in the widest contrast from the feelings that any Jew of the time of the Maccabees would have towards Epiphanes. He, Daniel, in his love for the grand impulsive despot, would have the enemies and haters of his monarch swept forth to wander as maniacs, rather than that he should so suffer. Daniel 4:19(Daniel 4:16-24)

The interpretation of the dream.

As Daniel at once understood the interpretation of the dream, he was for a moment so astonished that he could not speak for terror at the thoughts which moved his soul. This amazement seized him because he wished well to the king, and yet he must now announce to him a weighty judgment from God.

Daniel 4:16 (Daniel 4:19)

The punctuation אשׁתּומם for אשׁתּומם is Syriac, as in the Hebr. Daniel 8:27; cf. Winer's Chald. Gram. 25, 2. חדא כּשׁעהmeans, not about an hour (Mich., Hitz., Kran., etc.), but as it were an instant, a moment. Regarding שׁעה, see under Daniel 3:6. The king perceives the astonishment of Daniel, and remarks that he has found the interpretation. Therefore he asks him, with friendly address, to tell him it without reserve. Daniel then communicates it in words of affectionate interest for the welfare of the king. The words, let the dream be to thine enemies, etc., do not mean: it is a dream, a prophecy, such as the enemies of the king might ungraciously wish (Klief.), but: may the dream with its interpretation be to thine enemies, may it be fulfilled to them or refer to them (Hv., Hitz., etc.). The Kethiv מראי is the regular formation from מרא with the suffix, for which the Masoretes have substituted the later Talmudic-Targ. form מר. With regard to שׂנאיך with the a shortened, as also השׁחין (Daniel 3:16) and other participial forms, cf. Winer, Chald. Gram. 34, III. That Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:16) in his account speaks in the third person does not justify the conclusion, either that another spake of him, and that thus the document is not genuine (Hitz.), nor yet the conclusion that this verse includes an historical notice introduced as an interpolation into the document; for similar forms of expression are often found in such documents: cf. Ezra 7:13-15; Esther 8:7-8.

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