Daniel 4:28
All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
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Daniel 4:28-33. All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar — With what admirable propriety is the person changed here! the six following verses being delivered in the third person. But in the 34th, Nebuchadnezzar, having recovered his reason, speaks in the first person again. At the end of twelve months — God deferred the execution of his threats against this impious prince for a whole year, giving him that time wherein to repent and return to him; but seeing that he persevered in his crimes, the measure of his iniquities being full, he put his menaces in execution. — Calmet. “Strange as it may seem,” says Bishop Horsley, “notwithstanding Daniel’s weight and credit with the king, — notwithstanding the consternation of mind into which the dream had thrown him, the warning had no permanent effect. He was not cured of his overweening pride and vanity till he was overtaken by the threatened judgment. At the end of twelve months, he was walking in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon — Probably on the flat roof of the building, or perhaps on one of the highest terraces of the hanging gardens, where the whole city would be in prospect before him; and he said, in the exultation of his heart, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the seat of empire, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? — The words had scarcely passed his lips, when the might of his power and the honour of his majesty departed from him. The same voice, which in the dream had predicted the judgment, now denounced the impending execution; and the voice had no sooner ceased to speak than it was done.”

Of the extent, glory, and splendour of Babylon, see note on Isaiah 13:19. Although Babylon was one of the oldest cities in the world, being built by Nimrod a little after the erection of the famous tower of Babel, and considerably augmented by Semiramis, yet Nebuchadnezzar had very much improved it, and made it one of the wonders of the world, on account of the largeness and height of the walls which he built round it, the temple of Belus, his own palace, and the famous hanging gardens belonging to it, all of which were the works of this king. Bochart thinks that Babylon was as much indebted to Nebuchadnezzar as Rome was to Augustus Cesar, who used to boast, that he received the city of brick, and left it of marble. But Herodotus says, it was built gradually by several other Assyrian kings; and he relates, that the wealth of the Babylonian state was so great, that it was equal to one third part of all Asia; and that, besides the tribute, if the other supplies for the great king were divided into twelve parts, according to the twelve months of the year, Babylon would supply four, and all Asia the other eight.

4:28-37 Pride and self-conceit are sins that beset great men. They are apt to take that glory to themselves which is due to God only. While the proud word was in the king's mouth, the powerful word came from God. His understanding and his memory were gone, and all the powers of the rational soul were broken. How careful we ought to be, not to do any thing which may provoke God to put us out of our senses! God resists the proud. Nebuchadnezzar would be more than a man, but God justly makes him less than a man. We may learn to believe concerning God, that the most high God lives for ever, and that his kingdom is like himself, everlasting, and universal. His power cannot be resisted. When men are brought to honour God, by confession of sin and acknowledging his sovereignty, then, and not till then, they may expect that God will honour them; not only restore them to the dignity they lost by the sin of the first Adam, but add excellent majesty to them, from the righteousness and grace of the Second Adam. Afflictions shall last no longer than till they have done the work for which they were sent. There can be no reasonable doubt that Nebuchadnezzar was a true penitent, and an accepted believer. It is thought that he did not live more than a year after his restoration. Thus the Lord knows how to abase those that walk in pride, but gives grace and consolation to the humble, broken-hearted sinner who calls upon Him.All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar - That is, the threatened judgment came upon him in the form in which it was predicted. He did not repent and reform his life as he was exhorted to, and, having given him sufficient time to show whether he was disposed to follow the counsel of Daniel, God suddenly brought the heavy judgment upon him. Why he did not follow the counsel of Daniel is not stated, and cannot be known. It may have been that he was so addicted to a life of wickedness that he would not break off from it, even while he admitted the fact that he was exposed on account of it to so awful a judgment - as multitudes do who pursue a course of iniquity, even while they admit that it will be followed by poverty, disgrace, disease and death here, and by the wrath of God hereafter; or it may be, that he did not credit the representation which Daniel made, and refused to follow his counsel on that account; or it may be, that though he purposed to repent, yet, as thousands of others do, he suffered the time to pass on until the forbearance of God was exhausted, and the calamity came suddenly upon him. A full year, it would seem Daniel 4:29, was given him to see what the effect of the admonition would be, and then all that had been predicted was fulfilled. His conduct furnishes a remarkable illustration of the conduct of sinners under threatened wrath; of the fact that they continue to live in sin when exposed to certain destruction, and when warned in the plainest manner of what will come upon them. 27. break off—as a galling yoke (Ge 27:40); sin is a heavy load (Mt 11:28). The Septuagint and Vulgate translate not so well, "redeem," which is made an argument for Rome's doctrine of the expiation of sins by meritorious works. Even translate it so, it can only mean; Repent and show the reality of thy repentance by works of justice and charity (compare Lu 11:41); so God will remit thy punishment. The trouble will be longer before it comes, or shorter when it does come. Compare the cases of Hezekiah, Isa 38:1-5; Nineveh, Jon 3:5-10; Jer 18:7, 8. The change is not in God, but in the sinner who repents. As the king who had provoked God's judgments by sin, so he might avert it by a return to righteousness (compare Ps 41:1, 2; Ac 8:22). Probably, like most Oriental despots, Nebuchadnezzar had oppressed the poor by forcing them to labor in his great public works without adequate remuneration.

if … lengthening of … tranquillity—if haply thy present prosperity shall be prolonged.

No text from Poole on this verse.

All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. All that was signified in the dream, his madness, the removal of him from the administration of government, and the brutal life he lived for seven years; for this was not a mere parable or fiction, as some have thought, framed to describe the state and punishment of a proud man, but was a real fact; though it is not made mention of by any historians, excepting what has been observed before out of Abydenus (n); see Gill on Daniel 4:16, yet there is no reason to doubt of the truth of it, from this relation of Daniel; and is further confirmed by his observing the same to Belshazzar his grandson some years after it was done, as a known thing, and as an unquestionable matter of fact, Daniel 5:20.

(n) Apud Eubseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 41. p. 457.

All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
28–33. The fulfilment of the dream.

Verses 28, 29. - All this came upon the King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The Septuagint here has the look of a paraphrase. In continuation of the preceding verse, "Attend (ἀγάπησον) to these words, for my word is certain, and thy time is full. And at the end of this word, Nebuchadnezzar, when he heard the interpretation of the vision, kept these words in his heart" (compare with this the phrase in Luke 2:19). "And after twelve months the king walked upon the walls of the city, and went about its towers, and answered and said." The variations appear to be due to a desire to expand and explain. It seemed to the translator more natural that, after a survey of the walls and towers of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar should speak his boastful words, hence he makes the suitable changes in the verse before us; so, too, with the effect of Daniel's words on the king. The rendering of Theodotion coincides nearly with the text of the Massorites, save that hoychal is translated "temple" rather than "palace" - a translation which usage quite permits. The Peshitta retains the double meaning. One, of the great buildings erected by an Assyrian or Babylonian monarch was his palace, which had also the character of a temple. In the case of the Ninevite monarchs, the walls of the palace were adorned with sculptures, portraying the principal events of the monarch's reign. This not impossibly might be the case with the palace of Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon as a city seems to have been practically rebuilt by him - his bricks are the most numerous of any found in Babylonia. Daniel 4:28In this verse there is a brief comprehensive statement regarding the fulfilment of the dream to the king, which is then extended from v. 26 to 30. At the end of twelve months, i.e., after the expiry of twelve months from the time of the dream, the king betook himself to his palace at Babylon, i.e., to the flat roof of the palace; cf. 2 Samuel 11:2. The addition at Babylon does not indicate that the king was then living at a distance from Babylon, as Berth., v. Leng., Maur., and others imagine, but is altogether suitable to the matter, because Nebuchadnezzar certainly had palaces outside of Babylon, but it is made with special reference to the language of the king which follows regarding the greatness of Babylon. ענה means here not simply to begin to speak, but properly to answer, and suggests to us a foregoing colloquy of the king with himself in his own mind. Whether one may conclude from that, in connection with the statement of time, after twelve months, that Nebuchadnezzar, exactly one year after he had received the important dream, was actively engaging himself regarding that dream, must remain undetermined, and can be of no use to a psychological explanation of the occurrence of the dream. The thoughts which Nebuchadnezzar expresses in v. 26 (Daniel 4:29) are not favourable to such a supposition. Had the king remembered that dream and its interpretation, he would scarcely have spoken so proudly of his splendid city which he had built as he does in v. 27 (Daniel 4:30).

When he surveyed the great and magnificent city from the top of his palace, "pride overcame him," so that he dedicated the building of this great city as the house of his kingdom to the might of his power and the honour of his majesty. From the addition רבּתא it does not follow that this predicate was a standing Epitheton ornans of Babylon, as with חמת , Amos 6:2, and other towns of Asia; for although Pausanias and Strabo call Babylon μεγάλη and μεγίστη πόλις, yet it bears this designation as a surname in no ancient author. But in Revelation 14:8 this predicate, quoted from the passage before us, is given to Babylon, and in the mouth of Nebuchadnezzar it quite corresponds to the self-praise of his great might by which he had built Babylon as the residence of a great king. בּנה designates, as בּנה more frequently, not the building or founding of a city, for the founding of Babylon took place in the earliest times after the Flood (Genesis 11), and was dedicated to the god Belus, or the mythic Semiramis, i.e., in the pre-historic time; but בּנה means the building up, the enlargement, the adorning of the city מלכוּ לבּית, for the house of the kingdom, i.e., for a royal residence; cf. The related expression ממלכה בּית, Amos 7:13. בּית stands in this connection neither for town nor for היכל (Daniel 4:29), but has the meaning dwelling-place. The royalty of the Babylonian kingdom has its dwelling-place, its seat, in Babylon, the capital of the kingdom.

With reference to the great buildings of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, vide the statements of Berosus in Josephi Ant. x. 11, 1, and con. Ap. i. 19, and of Abydenus in Eusebii praepar. evang. ix. 41, and Chron. i. p. 59; also the delineation of these buildings in Duncker's Gesch. des Alterth. i. p. 854ff. The presumption of this language appears in the words, "by the strength of my might, and for the splendour (honour) of my majesty." Thus Nebuchadnezzar describes himself as the creator of his kingdom and of its glory, while the building up of his capital as a residence bearing witness to his glory and his might pointed at the same time to the duration of his dynasty. This proud utterance is immediately followed by his humiliation by the omnipotent God. A voice fell from heaven. נפל as in Isaiah 9:7, of the sudden coming of a divine revelation. אמרין for the passive, as Daniel 3:4. The perf. עדּת denotes the matter as finished. At the moment when Nebuchadnezzar heard in his soul the voice from heaven, the prophecy begins to be fulfilled, the king becomes deranged, and is deprived of his royalty.

Daniel 4:29-30 (Daniel 4:32-33)


The fulfilling of the dream.

Nebuchadnezzar narrates the fulfilment of the dream altogether objectively, so that he speaks of himself in the third person. Berth., Hitz., and others find here that the author falls out of the role of the king into the narrative tone, and thus betrays the fact that some other than the king framed the edict. But this conclusion is opposed by the fact that Nebuchadnezzar from v. 31 speaks of his recovery again in the first person. Thus it is beyond doubt that the change of person has its reason in the matter itself. Certainly it could not be in this that Nebuchadnezzar thought it unbecoming to speak in his own person of his madness; for if he had had so tender a regard for his own person, he would not have published the whole occurrence in a manifesto addressed to his subjects. But the reason of his speaking of his madness in the third person, as if some other one were narrating it, lies simply in this, that in that condition he was not Ich equals Ego (Kliefoth). With the return of the Ich, I, on the recovery from his madness, Nebuchadnezzar begins again to narrate in the first person (v. 31 34).

Here the contents of the prophecy, v. 22 (v. 25), are repeated, and then in v. 30 (v. 33) it is stated that the word regarding Nebuchadnezzar immediately began to be fulfilled. On שׁעתא בהּ, cf. Daniel 3:6. ספת, from סוּף, to go to an end. The prophecy goes to an end when it is realized, is fulfilled. The fulfilling is related in the words of the prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar is driven from among men, viz., by his madness, in which he fled from intercourse with men, and lived under the open air of heaven as a beast among the beasts, eating grass like the cattle; and his person was so neglected, that his hair became like the eagles' fathers and his nails like birds' claws. כּנשׁרין and כּצפּרין are abbreviated comparisons; vide under Daniel 4:16. That this condition was a peculiar appearance of the madness is expressly mentioned in v. 31 (Daniel 4:34), where the recovery is designated as the restoration of his understanding.

This malady, in which men regard themselves as beasts and imitate their manner of life, is called insania zoanthropica, or, in the case of those who think themselves wolves, lycanthropia. The condition is described in a manner true to nature. Even "as to the eating of grass," as G. Rsch, in the Deutsch. Morgenl. Zeitschr. xv. p. 521, remarks, "there is nothing to perplex or that needs to be explained. It is a circumstance that has occurred in recent times, as e.g., in the case of a woman in the Wrttemberg asylum for the insane." Historical documents regarding this form of madness have been collected by Trusen in his Sitten, Gebr. u. Krank. der alten Hebrer, p. 205f., 2nd ed., and by Friedreich in Zur Bibel, i. p. 308f.

(Note: Regarding the statement, "his hair grew as the feathers of an eagle," etc., Friedr. remarks, p. 316, that, besides the neglect of the external appearance, there is also to be observed the circumstance that sometimes in psychical maladies the nails assume a peculiarly monstrous luxuriance with deformity. Besides, his remaining for a long time in the open air is to be considered, "for it is an actual experience that the hair, the more it is exposed to the influences of the rough weather and to the sun's rays, the more does it grow in hardness, and thus becomes like unto the feathers of an eagle.")

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