The king spoke, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Great Babylon.—The area of Babylon is said to have been 200 square miles. It was surrounded by walls 85 feet in width, 335 feet high. In these were brazen gates leading to various terraces which faced the river Euphrates. Within the walls the city was laid out in smaller towns, separated from each other by parks and plantations and gardens; in fact, it is stated that corn sufficient for the whole population could be grown within the walls. There were also magnificent public buildings. Nebuchadnezzar (Records of the Past, vol. v., pp. 113-135) mentions no less than eight temples which he completed, besides the huge temple of Merodach immediately across the Euphrates facing the royal palace. Walking on the flat roof of this palace, and with this grand spectacle before him, the king uttered these words. True, indeed, they were, but they show that during the twelve months which had been allotted to the king for repentance his pride remained unabated; he had not repented as Daniel had counselled him.
Is not this great Babylon, that I have built - In regard to the situation and the magnitude of Babylon, and the agency of Nebuchadnezzar in beautifying and enlarging it, see the analysis prefixed to the notes at Isaiah 13. He greatly enlarged the city; built a new city on the west side of the river; reared a magnificent palace; and constructed the celebrated hanging gardens; and, in fact, made the city so different from what it was, and so greatly increased its splendor, that he could say without impropriety that he had "built" it.
For the house of the kingdom - To be considered altogether - embracing the whole city - as a sort of palace of the kingdom. He seems to have looked upon the whole city as one vast palace fitted to be an appropriate residence of the sovereign of so vast an empire.Great Babylon: as to the greatness of this place, it might be well called great, for most historians and geographers make it forty-five miles about the walls, some sixty; for the height of the walls, they affirm them to be a hundred cubits, and for their thickness, such as six chariots might go abreast upon the top of them. See Bochart in his Phaleg.
That I have built; which words of his are not true, as to the first foundation of Babylon; for that was done by Nimrod, or Bel, which is the same, Genesis 10:10; but if ye speak touching the repairing and enlarging of it after Nineveh was destroyed, so Nebuchadnezzar might be said to build it, i.e. to make it so great and glorious as at last.
For the honour of my majesty: the manner of proud tyrants is to engross all honour to themselves; moreover, he attributes nothing to the signal goodness of God to him, but takes all to himself. Now God, that resists the proud, presently falls upon him, and down he comes while he stood crowing and pruning his gay feathers.
is not this great Babylon, that I have built; he might well call it great, for, according to Aristotle (c), it was more like a country than a city; it was, as Pliny (d) says, sixty miles in compass within the walls; and Herodotus (e) affirms it was four hundred and fourscore furlongs round, and such the "greatness" of it, and so beautified, as no other city was he ever knew; See Gill on Jeremiah 51:58, though the king seems to have gone too far, in ascribing the building of it to himself; at least he was not the original builder of it; for it was built many hundreds of years before he was born, by Nimrod or Belus, who were the same, Genesis 10:10, and was much increased and strengthened by Semiramis, the wife of his son Ninus; therefore to her sometimes the building of it is ascribed; but inasmuch as it might be in later times greatly neglected by the Assyrian kings, Nineveh being the seat of their empire; Nebuchadnezzar, when he came to the throne, and especially after he had enriched himself with the spoils of the conquered nations, greatly enlarged, beautified, and fortified it: and Berosus (f) relates, that he not only adorned the temple of Bel therewith, but of the city which was of old he made a new one, and fortified it, built three walls within, and as many without; and another royal palace contiguous to his father's, which greatly exceeded it; and hanging gardens in it, which looked at a distance like mountains, for the pleasure of his wife; and now, because he had done so much to the repairing, enlarging, and fortifying of this city, he takes the honour to himself of being the builder of it: and this was done, he says,
for the house of the kingdom; that it might be the seat of the empire, and a proper place for the royal family to dwell in, to have their palace, and keep their court in:
by the might of my power; through the great riches he was possessed of, which he employed in many great works, as before related, to the advantage of this city; he takes all to himself, and excludes all instruments, and even God himself; though, unless the Lord build the city, in vain the builders build, Psalm 127:1,
for the honour of my majesty? not so much for the benefit of the city, for the good of his subjects, as for the honour and glory of himself; to show his riches, power, and grandeur, and to make his name immortal to future ages.The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)30. spake] answered (Daniel 2:20).
great Babylon] Revelation 16:19 (in a figurative sense); cf. Jeremiah 51:58.
I] The pronoun is emphatic.
for the house of the kingdom] for a royal dwelling-place (or residence).
honour] glory (as Daniel 2:37).
The ‘India House Inscription’ of Nebuchadnezzar is a fine commentary on the words here put into the mouth of the great king: see the abstract of it given in the Introduction, p. xxiv f.Verse 30. - The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? The meaning of the Septuagint rendering is the same as the above, "This is Babylon the great, which I built, and the house of my kingdom is it called, in the might of my power, to the honour of my glory." Theodotion and the Peshitta in the main agree with the received text. It is one of the characteristics of the earlier Chaldean monarchs who reigned over the small Chaldean cantons in Mesopotamia, that they named their capital city from themselves, as Bit-Dakuri and Bit-Adini; the capital of Merodach-Baladan was called after his father, Bit-Jakin. We need scarcely explain that bit represents beth, "house." In all ages an imperial power has expressed its greatness in the splen-dour of its capital, but in the case of the Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar was the empire, therefore the splendour of the city was a testimony to his glory.
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