Daniel 4:37
Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
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(37) The King of heaven.—How far the king arrived at a belief in one God is not clear. There may be noticed, however, a progress in his spiritual character, effected by the grace of God, after each of the interviews which he held with the prophet. At first (Daniel 2:26) his belief was no higher than that which a heathen has in his own superstitions. This develops (Daniel 2:47) into a belief that Daniel’s God is “a God of gods, a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets.” But even at that time he had not arrived at anything like a belief that Jehovah was equal to his own gods. The story of the three holy children shows how little depth there was in his former profession, for in Daniel 3:15 he is represented as setting himself above all gods. After the miracle wrought in their behalf he acknowledges Jehovah to be “the most high God,” though he continued to regard Him as only on a level with his own Bel-Merodach. This chapter represents him as recognising “the Most High” to be the cause of his recovery, and as praising the “King of heaven.” Holding, as he did, the Babylonian theory of sickness, he must have supposed himself to have been under the influence of some evil spirit; and, with a view to his recovery, his magicians must have treated his disease with charms, amulets, exorcisms, and by placing before him images of his gods. This thanksgiving makes it possible to suppose that he had relinquished much of his belief in his former superstitions, and that he was advancing towards, if not actually in possession of, the truth.

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.Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven - Compare Daniel 2:47, and Daniel 4:1-3. He felt himself called on, in this public manner, to acknowledge the true God, with whose supremacy he had been made acquainted in so affecting a manner; to "praise" him that he had preserved him, and restored him to his reason and his throne; to extol or exalt him, by recognizing his sovereignty over the mighty kings of the earth, and the power to rule over all; and to "honor" him by making his name and attributes known abroad, and by using all his influence as a monarch to have him reverenced throughout his extended empire.

All whose works are truth - See Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 33:4; Revelation 15:3. The meaning is, that all that he does is done in accordance with the true nature of things, or with justice and propriety. It is not based on a false estimate of things, as what is done by man often is. How often are the plans and acts of man, even where there are the best intentions, based on some false estimate of things; on some views which are shown by the result to have been erroneous! But God sees things precisely as they are, and accurately knows what should be done in every case.

And those that walk in pride he is able to abase - What had occurred to Nebuchadnezzar might occur to others, and as God had shown that he could reduce the most exalted sovereign of the earth to the lowest condition in which a human being can be, he inferred that he could do the same to all, and that there was no one so exalted in rank, so vigorous in health, and so mighty in intellect, that he could not effectually humble and subdue him. This is indeed an affecting truth which is constantly illustrated in the world. The reverses occurring among men, the sick-bed, the loss of reason, the grave, show how easily God can bring down rank, and beauty, and talent and all that the world calls great, to the dust. In the Greek Codex Chisianus there is at the close of this chapter a beautiful ascription of praise to God, which has nothing to correspond with it in the Chaldee, and the origin of which is unknown.

I will translate it, because, although it is not of Divine authority, and is no part of the sacred writings, it contains sentiments not inappropriate to the close of this remarkable chapter. It is as follows: "To the Most High I make confession, and render praise to Him who made the heaven, and the earth, and the seas, and the rivers, and all things in them; I acknowledge him and praise him because he is the God of gods, and Lord of lords, and King of kings, for he does signs and wonders, and changes times and seasons, taking away the kingdoms of kings, and placing others in their stead. From this time I will serve him, and from the fear of him trembling has seized me, and I praise all his saints, for the gods of the pagan have not in themselves power to transfer the kingdom of a king to another king, and to kill and to make alive, and to do signs, and great and fearful wonders, and to change mighty deeds, as the God of heaven has done to me, and has brought upon me great changes. I, during all the days of my reign, on account of my life, will bring to the Most High sacrifices for an odor of sweet savor to the Lord, and I and my people will do what will be acceptable before him - my nation, and the countries which are under my power.

And whosoever shall speak against the God of heaven, and whosoever shall countenance those who speak anything, I will condemn to death. Praise the Lord God of heaven, and bring sacrifice and offering to him gloriously. I, king of kings, confess Him gloriously, for so he has done with me; in the very day he set me upon my throne, and my power, and my kingdom; among my people I have power, and my majesty has been restored to me. And he sent letters concerning all things that were done unto him in his kingdom; to all the nations that were under him."

Nebuchadnezzar is supposed to have lived but about one year after this (Wintle), but nothing is known of his subsequent deeds. It may be hoped that he continued steadfast in his faith in that God whom he had thus been brought to acknowledge, and that he died in that belief. But of this nothing is known. After so solemn an admonition, however, of his own pride, and after being brought in this public manner to acknowledge the true God, it is to be regarded as not improbable that he looked on the Babylon that he had reared, and over his extended realms, with other feelings than those which he had before this terrible calamity came upon him. "Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded in his kingdom by his son Iloarudam, according to Ptolemy, who is the Evil-Merodach of Jeremiah. After the death of Evil-Merodach, who reigned two years, Niricassolassar, or Neriglissar, who seems to have been the chief of the conspirators against the last king, succeeded him. He had married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, and in the course of his reign made a great stand against the growing power of the Medes and Persians; but at length, after a reign of four years, was killed in a battle with them under the command of Cyrus. His son Laborosoarchod succeeded him, and having reigned only nine months, and not reaching a Thoth, or beginning of an Egyptian year, he is not mentioned by Ptolemy; but he is said to have been quite the reverse of his father, and to have exercised many acts of wanton cruelty, and was murdered by his own subjects, and succeeded by his son Nabonadius, or Belshazzar." - Wintle.


(1) The narrative in this chapter furnishes an illustration of the disposition among men to make arrangements for their own ease and comfort, especially in view of advancing years, Daniel 4:4. Nebuchadnezzar had drawn around him all that it is possible, perhaps, for man to accumulate with this view. He was at the head of the pagan world - the mighty monarch of the mightiest kingdom on the earth. He was at peace - having finished his wars, and having been satiated with the glory of battle and conquest. He had enlarged and beautified his capital, so that it was one of the "wonders of the world." He had built for himself a palace, which surpassed in richness, and elegance, and luxury, all the habitations of man in that age. He had accumulated vast wealth, and there was not a production of any clime which he could not command, nor was there anything that is supposed to be necessary to make man happy in this life which he had not in his possession.

All this was the result of arrangement and purpose. He designed evidently to reach the point where he might feel that he was "at ease, and flourishing in his palace." What was true in his case on a large scale is true of others in general, though on a much smaller scale. Most men would be glad to do the same thing; and most men seek to make such an arrangement according to their ability. They look to the time when they may retire from the toils and cares of life, with a competence for their old age, and when they may enjoy life, perhaps, many years, in the tranquility of honorable and happy retirement. The merchant does not expect always to be a merchant; the man in office to be always burdened with the cares of state. The soldier does not expect always to be in the camp, or the mariner on the sea. The warrior hopes to repose on his laurels; the sailor to find a quiet haven; the merchant to have enough to be permitted to sit down in the evening of life free from care; and the lawyer, the physician, the clergyman, the farmer, each one hopes, after the toils and conflicts of life are over, to be permitted to spend the remainder of his days in comfort, if not in affluence.

This seems to be based on some law of our nature; and it is not to be spoken of harshly, or despised as if it had no foundation in what is great and noble in our being. I see in this a high and noble truth. It is that our nature looks forward to rest; that we are so made as to pant for repose - for calm repose when the work of life is over. As our Maker formed us, the law was that we should seek this in the world to come - in that blessed abode where we may be free from all care, and where there shall be everlasting rest. But man, naturally unwilling to look to that world, has abused this law of his being, and seeks to find the rest for which the soul pants, in that interval, usually very short, and quite unfitted for tranquil enjoyment, between the period when he toils, and lies down in the grave. The true law of his being would lead him to look onward to everlasting happiness; he abuses and perverts the law, and seeks to satisfy it by making provision for a brief and temporary rest at the close of the present life.

(2) There is a process often going on in the case of these individuals to disturb or prevent that state of ease. Thus there was in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, as intimated by the dream. Even then, in his highest state of grandeur, there was a tendency to the sad result which followed when he was driven from his throne, and treated as a poor and neglected maniac. This was intimated to him by the dream; and to one who could see all the future, it would be apparent that things were tending to this result. The very excitements and agitations of his life, the intoxication of his pride, and the circumstances of ease and grandeur in which he was now placed, all tended by a natural course of things to produce what followed. And so, in other cases, there is often process going on, if it could be seen, destined to disappoint all those hopes, and to prevent all that anticipated ease and tranquility. It is not always visible to men, but could we see things as God sees them, we should perceive that there are causes at work which will blast all those hopes of ease, and disappoint all those expectations of tranquility. There may be

(a) the loss of all that we possess: for we hold it by an uncertain tenure, and "riches often take to themselves wings." There may be

(b) the loss of a wife, or a child and all our anticipated comforts shall be tasteless, for there shall be none with whom to share them. There may be

(c) the loss of reason, as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, for no human precaution can guard against that. There may be


37. praise … extol … honour—He heaps word on word, as if he cannot say enough in praise of God.

all whose works … truth … judgment—that is, are true and just (Re 15:3; 16:7). God has not dealt unjustly or too severely with me; whatever I have suffered, I deserved it all. It is a mark of true contrition to condemn one's self, and justify God (Ps 51:4).

those that walk in pride … abase—exemplified in me. He condemns himself before the whole world, in order to glorify God.

Thus can the Lord make the stoutest hearts to stoop, and do him homage. This doxology proceeds from his heart. God is

truth essentially; he is the rule and standard of truth, his words are truth, his ways are truth: and they are

judgment; he is wise, and hath dealt justly with me for my pride, and in very faithfulness hath afflicted me, and in very tenderness hath restored me: I do and ever shall adore him for it.

Those that walk in pride he is able to abase; as he hath declared upon me, in stupendous changes, which I proclaim to all the world for his glory. He had a just controversy with me, and I have no ground to quarrel with him, but to give him glory by this confession.

Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven,.... Now he knew that the heavens ruled, and that there was a God and a King there, above all gods and kings; who had brought him low, and raised him up again, and to whom were owing all his present glory and magnificence, and therefore worthy of his highest praises; and which he in the most public manner gave by words before his lords and counsellors, and by writing under his own hand, by this edict and proclamation:

all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: everything he does in providence, and every step he takes therein, are according to truth and righteousness; he is true to his word, and righteous in his works, as he had been to him:

and those that walk in pride he is able to abase; not only that show it now and then, but always, and in everything; in their looks and gestures, in their talk and walk, and throughout the whole of their conversation; in whom it is public, visible, notorious, and constant; but let them carry their heads ever so high, and be as proud and haughty as they will, God is able to humble them; he has various ways of doing it. Such as are proud of their outward beauty, or the strength of their bodies, he can, by sending a disease upon them, make their beauty to consume like a moth, and weaken their strength in the way; such as are elated with their wealth and substance, and with honours conferred upon them, or dignity they are raised to, he can soon strip them of all their riches by one providence or another, and bring down those that stand in slippery places of honour and dignity to destruction in a moment; and such as pride and plume themselves with their wit and knowledge, the natural endowments of their mind, he can take away their reason and understanding from them, as he did from this monarch, and put them upon a level with brutes: such who behest of their own righteousness and good works, and trust in themselves, that they are righteous and holy persons, and despise others; and think to be justified and saved by them, and not to be beholden to any other, but be their own saviours; these the Lord, by his Spirit, can humble, by showing them the impurity of their nature; their impotence to that which is spiritually good; the imperfection of their best righteousness to justify them in his sight; so that they shall appear to be polluted and defiled creatures, who thought themselves very holy; and to be very weak and insufficient of themselves, to do anything spiritually good, who gloried in the power and strength of their free will; and see that their best works are no other than filthy rags, and to be renounced in the business of their justification and salvation: in short, he humbles by showing them that all their temporal good things are owing to the good providence of God, and are dependent on it; and that all they have in spirituals is owing to the grace of God, and not to any desert of theirs; in consequence of which they become meek and lowly, and walk humbly with their God, who before walked in the pride of their hearts, and in the vanity of their minds. And a power to do this is peculiar to God himself; none but God can look upon him that is proud, and abase him, and bring him low; and sooner or later, by one means, or in one way or another, he will stain the pride of all glory: it is his usual way to abase him that exalts himself, and exalt him that humbles himself; see Job 40:11, pride being a most hateful sin to him, contrary to his nature and glory, to his grace and to his Gospel; the first sin of angels and men. And of abasement and humiliation of such proud ones, Nebuchadnezzar was an instance in various respects; who was one of the proudest monarchs upon earth, yet was humbled with a witness; but, after all, whether truly converted, is a question.

Now I Nebuchadnezzar {u} praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

(u) He not only praises God for his deliverance, but also confesses his fault, so that God alone may have the glory, and man the shame, and so that God may be exalted and man cast down.

37. Nebuchadnezzar’s final doxology.

extol] or exalt: Psalm 30:1; Psalm 118:28; Psalm 145:1, &c.

truth … judgement] cf. Psalm 111:7.

and those that walk in pride, &c.] Cf. Ezekiel 17:24; Psalm 18:27; Psalm 75:7; also Proverbs 16:18. Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that the humiliation which he has experienced is a punishment for his pride.

“The Bible always represents to us that pride and arrogant self-confidence are an offence against God. The doom fell on Nebuchadnezzar while the haughty boast was still in the king’s mouth. The suddenness of the nemesis of pride is closely paralleled by the scene in the Acts of the Apostles in which Herod Agrippa I. is represented as entering the theatre to receive the deputies of Tyre and Sidon”; and, in spite of the ominous warning, which according to the story in Josephus he had received just before, as accepting the blasphemous adulation of the multitude, and as being stricken immediately by a mortal illness (Acts 20:20-23; Jos. Ant. xiv. viii. 2). “And something like this we see again and again in what the late Bishop Thirlwall called the ‘irony of history’—the cases in which men seem to have been elevated to the very summit of power only to heighten the dreadful precipice over which they immediately fell. He mentions the cases of Persia, which was on the verge of ruin when with lordly arrogance she dictated the peace of Antalcidas; of Boniface VIII., in the Jubilee of 1300, immediately preceding his deadly overthrow; and of Spain, under Philip II., struck down by the ruin of the Armada at the zenith of her wealth and pride. He might have added the instances of Ahab, Sennacherib [cf. Isaiah 10:12-19; Isaiah 10:33-34], Nebuchadnezzar, and Herod Antipas, of Alexander the Great, and of Napoleon” (Farrar, p. 198 f.).

Additional Note on Nebuchadnezzar’s madness

The malady from which Nebuchadnezzar is represented as suffering agrees, as Dr Pusey has pointed out (p. 425 ff.), “with the description of a rare sort of disease, called Lycanthropy, from one form of it, of which our earliest notice is in a Greek medical writer of the 4th cent. a.d., in which the sufferer retains his consciousness in other respects, but imagines himself to be changed into some animal, and acts, up to a certain point, in conformity with that persuasion.” Persons thus afflicted imagine themselves for instance to be dogs, wolves, lions, cats, cocks, or other animals, and cry or otherwise behave themselves in the manner of these animals. Marcellus (4 cent. a.d.) says, “They who are seized by the kynanthropic or lykanthropic disease, in the month of February go forth by night, imitating in all things wolves or dogs, and until day especially live near tombs.” Galen mentions the case of one who crowed, and flapped his arms, imagining himself to be a cock; and many similar cases are on record in modern times. Dr Pusey states that he found no notice of the exact form of the disease with which Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted (which would be Boanthropy); but there seems to be no intrinsic reason why an ox should not be the animal whose nature was thus assumed. A man who imagined himself to be an ox might naturally enough eat grass like an ox; but a perverted appetite, including, in particular, a desire to devour grass, leaves, twigs, &c., is also an independent characteristic of many forms of insanity. At the same time, persons suffering in these ways are often not entirely, or continuously, bereft of their reason; they are at times aware that they are not what they imagine themselves to be; and frequently (as visitors to lunatic asylums sometimes notice) make on many subjects acute and sensible remarks; so that there is no difficulty in supposing that Nebuchadnezzar could, as seems to be represented in Daniel 4:34, have recognized God in prayer even before his reason had wholly returned to him. Dr Pusey refers at some length to the case of Père Surin, who, in exorcising others, fell for many years into a strange malady, in which he believed himself to be possessed, and acted outwardly in the manner of a maniac, and yet remained fully conscious of religious verities, and was inwardly in perfect peace and communion with God.

If therefore it were clear that the narrative in Daniel was the work of a contemporary hand, there does not seem to be any sufficient reason why the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity should not be accepted as historical: it is supported by physiological analogies; and the objections that it is not mentioned by other ancient writers, and that his empire would not have been preserved to him during such a long illness, are hardly of a nature to be conclusive; our records of his reign are imperfect[248], and an arrangement may have been made by which the chief courtiers continued to rule in the king’s name,—as in the similar cases of Charles VI. of France, Christian VII. of Denmark, George III. of England, and Otho of Bavaria, referred to by Dr Farrar (p. 201).

[248] The statement of Berosus (ap. Jos. c. Ap. i. 20) that ‘falling into a sickness (ἐμπεσὼν εἰς ἀρρωστίαν), he ended his life,’ is too vague to be regarded as confirmatory of the narrative in Daniel: Berosus uses almost the same expression (ἀρρωστήσας) in speaking (ib. i. 19) of the death of Nabopolassar; besides, it is implied that from this sickness Nebuchadnezzar did not recover.

The question assumes, however, a different complexion, if it be true that the book is a work of the Maccabæan age. We then have no contemporary evidence for the fact; and it becomes an open question, whether it is more than a popular tradition which the writer has followed, and which he has adopted for the purpose of teaching one of the great lessons of his book. Some support is given to this opinion by the curious, though imperfect, parallel quoted by Eusebius (Praep. Evang. ix. 41) from the Assyrian history of Abydenus (prob. 2 cent. a.d.):—“Megasthenes says that Nebuchadnezzar became stronger than Herakles, and made wars upon Libya and Iberia, and having conquered these countries settled a part of their inhabitants on the right of Pontus. After this, it is said by the Chaldæans, he ascended the roof of his palace, and being possessed by some god or other, cried aloud: ‘O Babylonians, I, Nebuchadnezzar, announce to you beforehand the coming misfortune, which Bel my ancestor and the Queen Beltis are alike powerless to persuade the Fates to avert. A Persian mule [i.e. Cyrus] will come, having your own deities as his allies[249], and will bring slavery. He who will help him in this undertaking will be Mçdçs[250], the boast of Assyria[251]. Would that, before my citizens were betrayed, some Charybdis or sea might receive him, and utterly extinguish him! or else that, betaking himself elsewhere, he might be driven through the desert, where is no city nor track of man, where wild beasts have their pasture, and birds do roam, and that among rocks and ravines he might wander alone! and that I, before he imagined this, might meet with some happier end!’ Having uttered this prophecy, he forthwith disappeared; and Evilmaluruchus [Evil-merodach], his son, succeeded him on the throne.”

[249] Cyrus, in his ‘Cylinder-Inscription,’ represents himself as led into Babylon by Merodach, the supreme god of Babylon (cf. the Introd. p. xxxi. bottom).

[250] Schrader, following a conjecture of von Gutschmid’s, reads ‘the son of a Median woman,’ i.e. Nabu-na’id, who certainly made himself unpopular by his neglect of the gods of Babylon, and may well have been regarded as in great measure responsible for its capture by Cyrus.

[251] Used in the sense of Babylonia.

Megasthenes was a contemporary of Seleucus Nicator (b.c. 312–280); but the statements about Nebuchadnezzar’s prophecy are made on the authority of the ‘Chaldaeans.’ Prof. Be van, following Prof. Schrader[252], points out well the historical significance of the passage, and its bearing on the Biblical narrative. “Obscure as the passage is in some of its details, one part may be regarded as certain, viz. that we have here a popular legend of Babylonian origin, coloured of course by the Greek medium through which it has passed. The prophecy put into the mouth of Nebuchadnezzar evidently refers to the overthrow of the Babylonian empire by Cyrus, the ‘mule.’ … The resemblances between the narrative in Daniel and the Babylonian legend can hardly be accidental”: in both the king is on the roof of the palace; in the one case a prophetic voice declares to him that he will be driven from men, and have his abode with the beasts of the field, in the other he invokes a similar fate upon his nation’s foe. “But to suppose that either narrative has been directly borrowed from the other is impossible. It would appear that of the two, that in Abydenus is on the whole the more primitive. Its local character,”—notice, for instance, the interest evinced by it in the history of Babylon,—“is strongly marked; and it shews no signs of having been deliberately altered to serve a didactic purpose. In Daniel, on the other hand, we find a narrative which contains scarcely anything specifically Babylonian, but which is obviously intended to teach a moral lesson. It is therefore probable that some Babylonian legend on the subject of Nebuchadnezzar had, perhaps in a very distorted form, reached the ears of the author of Daniel, who adapted the story in order to make it a vehicle of religious instruction.”

[252] In his Essay on ‘Nebuchadnezzar’s Madness’ in the Jahrbücher für Protest. Theol., 1881, p. 618 ff.

Verse 37. - Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment; and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. The Septuagint Version has all the appearance of an original composition by a scribe, not impossibly in imitation of the Song of the Three Holy Children, taking as its theme the subject of the verse before us, "I confess and praise the Highest, who created the heaven and the earth and the sea. He is God of gods, and Lord of lords, and King of kings, because he doeth signs and wonders, and changeth seasons and times, taking away the kingdoms of kings and setting up others instead of them. Now from this time I shall worship him, and from fear of him trembling hath taken hold of me, and all the holy ones I praise, for the gods of the nations have not power in themselves to turn away the kingdom of a king to another king, and to kill and to make alive, and to do signs and marvels great and fearful; and to change very great matters according as the God of heaven did to me, and charged to me great things. I will offer sacrifices to the Highest every day of nay reign for my life, for a savour of sweet smell before the Lord, and what is pleasing before him I shall do, and the people and my nation and the countries which are in my dominion. And as many as shall speak against the God of heaven, and as many as shall be taken saying anything, these shall I condemn to death." Several of the phrases in this short hymn - for that it rather is than a version of an Aramaic original - are derived from other portions of Scripture; e.g. "for a savour of a sweet smell before the Lord." There are traces also of the familiar phenomenon of "doublets." Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. So far as the Massoretic text represents the original Daniel, there is no evidence that Nebuchadnezzar had ceased to be a worshipper of Bel-Marduk and Nebo and Nergal. Certainly he recognizes that Jehovah is to be worshipped also. Further, it is to be admitted that Nebuchadnezzar carries his adoration very near the point of true and exclusive worship. In what he came short it may be that he yielded to the political necessities of his situation - as Naaman bowing in the temple of Rimmon. Even an autocrat like Nebuchadnezzar would be conditioned by those who served him, and after his madness he would be specially under the power of those officials who had restored him to his place. Excursus on Nebuchadnezzar's Madness. The events of the fourth chapter of Daniel are full of elements that have caused question from the days of Porphyry downwards. Many of these have been discussed as they occurred in the narrative. The question of the madness of Nebuchadnezzar has several features which cause it to be of interest. Some of these have been passingly treated in reference to the passages in which they are mentioned. But to a thorough understanding of the matter it is well to collect these features together and discuss it as a whole. To do so effectively, we shall have to consider

(1) the nature of the disease under which Nebuchadnezzar suffered;

(2) the length of time during which he was under it;

(3) what evidence there is in the narrative, or on the monuments, of political changes during the time he was incapacitated.

1. The disease under which Nebuchadnezzar suffered. Dr. Pusey says (p. 428), "It is now conceded that the madness of Nebuchadnezzar agrees with the description of a rare sort of disease called lycanthropy, of which our earliest notice is a Greek medical writer of the fourth century after our Lord, in which the sufferer retains his consciousness in other respects, but imagines himself to be changed into some animal, and acts up to a certain point in conformity with that persuasion. Those who imagined themselves changed into wolves, howled like wolves, and (there is reason to believe, falsely) accused themselves of bloodshed." Archdeacon Rose, in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' says, "There is now no question that the disease under which Nebuchadnezzar is said to have suffered, is one of a well-known class of diseases known by such names as lycanthropy, kynanthropy, etc., according to the animal whose habits are simulated by the subject of this disease." There is no question that there was a disease that was so called: Dr. Pusey has collected proof of that. It is to be noted that all the instances he quotes are from ancient writers. It occurred also in Mediaeval times. The point that is not quite so certain is that Nebuchadnezzar had this disease. In the first place, lycanthropy has a distinct and definite meaning in mental pathology. Those suffering from it "abandon their homes and make for the forests, that they may consort with those they imagine to be their kind; they allow their hair and nails to grow; they carry their imitation so far as to become ferocious, and mutilate and even to kill and devour children." Here we must observe that the neglect of the person, with the result of hair and nails growing, is not peculiar to that form of madness, but is really common to many varieties of mental disease. The two other characteristics are more special - the endeavour to consort with animals of the species to which the patient imagines himself to belong, and the destructive ferocity that in the form of wolf-madness, lycanthropy, properly so called, led to cannibalism. Of neither of these symptoms have we any indubitable evidence in the narrative. In regard to the first, of Nebuchadnezzar it is certainly said (vers. 15, 23) that "his portion" should" be with the beasts of the field;" ver. 25, "Thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field;" but here there is nothing to indicate that Nebuchadnezzar did this out of a mad overmastering longing. Rather, the very opposite is implied by the statement (vers. 25, 32)," They shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling," etc. So in ver. 33 it is said, "And he was driven from men." The question may be said to turn on the force of the word "they." It certainly may mean that the angels of God, as avenging spirits, might drive Nebuchadnezzar from men, and that his longing to consort with animals may have been the scourge that drove him, but that is not said or implied. It may have been the members of his own household that so drove him forth directly, or it may have been the indirect result of the cruel treatment intended to be curative. It may be urged that the statement, "Let a beast's heart be given him," implies this longing to consort with animals. In the first place, "heart," לְבַב (lebab), among the Shemites does not, as among Occidentals, mean the longing appetitive part of our nature, but really the spirit. In the next place, the reading in the Septuagint is quite different; it is not the "heart," לְבַב (lebab), but the "body," σῶμα, reading בְשַׂר (besar) instead of = = -לְבַב. (lebab). Indeed, when we turn to the Septuagint, we find a total want of all this appearance of abandoning house and home. In the statement of the dream (ver. 11, LXX.), "And it [the tree] was dragged and torn out, and in brazen fetters and shackles was it bound with them." Again, in the interpretation (ver 18, LXX.), "And they shall put thee in guard, and send thee to a desert place." When we turn to the fulfilment of the dream (ver. 25. LXX.), we find, "And the angels of heaven shall drive thee (διώ ξονταί σε) seven years, and thou shalt not be seen nor speak with any man; and thou shalt eat grass as an ox, and thy pasture shall be from the herb of the field." Again (vers. 27, 28. LXX.), "I was bound for seven years, and they fed me with grass as an ox, and my hairs became like eagles' feathers, and my nails like lions' claws, and my flesh and my heart were changed, and I walked naked among the beasts of the earth." The more I studied this, the less I was satisfied with the all-but universal decision that Nebuchadnezzar suffered under lycanthropy. Having a friend a specialist in mental disease, I submitted the case to him, giving him, in addition to what he found in his English Bible, the version or' the Septuagint. He is eminently qualified to judge all questions of mental disease. David Yellowlees, Esq., M.D., is head of one of the largest lunatic asylums in Scotland, Gartnavel, near Glasgow. He has been President of the Medico-Psychological Association of Great Britain; is Lecturer on Insanity in the University of Glasgow; and has had over thirty years' experience in the treatment of mental disease. He kindly wrote me the following, which he has permitted me to publish: - Nebuchadnezzar's illness was not lycanthropy; it was an attack of acute mania, which recovered, as such attacks usually do if uncomplicated, in seven months. Acute mania, in its extreme forms, exhibits all kinds of degraded habits, such as stripping off and tearing of clothes, eating filth and garbage of all sorts, wild and violent gesticulations, dangerous assaults, howling noises, and utter disregard of personal decency. The patient often is liker a wild animal than a human being. These symptoms merely show the completeness of the aberration, and do not at all indicate a hopeless condition. On the contrary, they are seen most frequently in the cases which recover. The king was apparently treated as kindly as the enlightenment of the times permitted - bound when injuring himself or others, taken to a desert place away from other men, and allowed a mad freedom, in which his attacks found relief and eventual recovery. In another communication, Dr. Yellowlees says, "The 'seven times' certainly did not mean seven years for recovery from that form of insanity; that is, acute mania would be most unlikely after so long a time. Seven months is a far more likely period."

2. This leads us to consider the second question - the length of time during which Nebuchadnezzar was under this malady. The phrase which states the duration occurs four times - vers. 16 (13), 23 (20), 25 (22), 32 (29) - and is always the same, "till seven times pass over him (thee)." שִׁבְעָה עַדָּנִין יַחְלְפוּן עֲלוהִי (sheebeah 'iddaneen yahelephoon 'alohee). The question turns on the sense to be given to 'iddan. This word is found thirteen times in this book - nine times besides the four times in this chapter. We find it three times in the second chapter, where it means the time during which certain planetary and stellar influences were at work. This naturally suggests the signs of the Zodiac and the phases of the moon, and therefore a month, though the probability is that the period in the king's mind was much shorter. The ruling phases of the moon would make a fourfold or threefold division not improbable, while the positions of the planets in the various astrological houses make it more likely that a day rather than even a month is meant. We find the word next in the following chapter (vers. 5 and 15), "At what time ('iddan) ye hear," etc. Here it means a point of time, and in the other verse (7), where the phrase occurs we have זִמְנָא (zimena), which usually means a set, fixed point of time. We find it again in the seventh chapter (vers. 12 and 25). In the twelfth verse, after the destruction of the fourth beast, the other beasts continue for "a season and time," זְמַן וְעִדָּן (z'man ve'iddan); it here means a space of time totally indefinite. In the twenty-fifth verse the word in question occurs three times in the phrase, "a time, times, and a dividing of time." Here it has been assumed to mean "a year," and this is certainly not improbable for this particular case; but nothing can be drawn from this as to the sense of the word elsewhere. So far as the usage of this book is concerned, we can say the word 'iddan means a space of time, the length of which is determined by the context. When we pass into the Targums, we find the same, or, if possible, even greater freedom of use. It is used for the time of old age in Psalm 71:9; in Ecclesiastes 3. for "the times." There is a phrase, 'iddan be'iddan ("time in times"), which is commonly understood to mean a year. This would render it probable that the word was originally some period much shorter than a year, probably a month; thus Genesis 24:55, where we render, according to the Massoretic, "a few days, at least ten." Onkelos renders, 'iddan be'iddan 'o 'asrah yarheen ("time in time, or ten months"), where the word certainly means "months." The usage of the Peshitta is much the same. Gaon Saadia would assign to 'iddan here the sense of "month;" in this he is followed by Lenormant. Notwithstanding the objections of critics and lexicographers, we venture to follow these two authorities the more readily that the critics have assigned no reason why we should not do so.

3. Is there any trace in the inscriptions surviving to us to throw light on this mysterious event? At one time it was supposed that in the Standard Inscription of Nebuchadnezzar we had a distinct reference to this period of madness. As at first translated, Nebuchadnezzar declared that for four years he did not occupy himself in building. A series of further negative sentences followed. More careful study and more accurate rendering have removed that misconception. From the nature of the Standard Inscription, it was a priori unlikely that anything of the kind supposed should have been found in it. It is a record of the various buildings, etc., he had constructed for the honour of the gods and the beauty of his capital. The dates of the erection of these edifices or the construction of these canals is net given; so the fact of years in which nothing was done is not necessarily noticeable. Lenormant ('La Divination,' 204) makes another suggestion. When he ascends the throne, after the murder of his brother-in-law, Evil-Merodach, we find Neriglissar (Nergalsharezer) claiming that his father, Bil-zikir-iskun, had been King of Babylon. Lenormant's theory is that Bil-zikir-iskun reigned' while Nebuchadnezzar was thus incapacitated by madness. Certainly, between the accession of Nabo-polassar in B.C. 625, to the death of Evil-Merodach in B.C. 559, there is no sovereign but the three members of the one dynasty. Rawlinson ('Five Great Monarchies') places him immediately before Nabopolassar, and reads his name Nebu-sum-iskun. But as deposition meant death, this would imply that his son - Neriglissar - even if only an infant, at the death of his father, would be at least sixty-five years of age at the death of Evil-Merodach. This is not an age when men engage in conspiracies. But more, he leaves behind him an infant son. While not impossible, this is an unlikely solution. If, then, he did not reign before Nabo-polassar, there must have been some interval in which he held the throne while the legitimate occupant was incapacitated by disease or distance from the capital It was not during the interval between the death of Nabopolassar and the accession of Nebuchadnezzar, because Berosus tells us of the rapid march Nebuchadnezzar made through the desert from Syria to reach Babylon before any usurpation took place. It did not take place between the death of Nebuchadnezzar and the accession of Evil-Merodach, for, from the contract tables, there seems to have been no interval of uncertainty. Bel-zikir-iskun may have, so M. Lenormant thinks, usurped the throne during the illness of Nebuchadnezzar. If the interval were less than a year, Ptolemy might not insert the name in his chronicle. Against this theory is the fact that throughout the whole of Nebuchadnezzar's reign there never is seven months without a contract preserved to us, dated by the years of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. This is not absolutely conclusive, because some of the contract tables, after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, are still dated by the reign of Nabunahid. We are compelled to abandon the position that we have any trace of this madness. We have an analogous case in the history of Nabunahid; for a long period, not less than five years, he was unable to take part in the business of the empire. Meantime, there is no indication in the contract tables that anything is wrong. The annals of Nabunahid reveal to us the fact that the king s son was acting monarch; but had these not come down to us, we should never have known of any incapacity befalling this monarch. Bel-zikir-iskun may have acted as monarch during Nebuchadnezzar's illness, and this may have been the fact that enabled Neff-glissar to assert his father to have been King of Babylon. It is not impossible that Nebuchadnezzar's decree may yet turn up from the rubbish of ages.

Daniel 4:37The manifesto closes with praise to God, the King of heaven, whose works are truth and righteousness, which show themselves in humbling the proud. קשׁוט corresponds to the Hebr. אמת, and דּין to the Hebr. משׁפּט. Nebuchadnezzar thus recognised the humiliation which he had experienced as a righteous punishment for his pride, without, however, being mindful of the divine grace which had been shown in mercy toward him; whence Calvin has drawn the conclusion that he was not brought to true heart-repentance.
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