Daniel 4:8
But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my God, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,
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(8) At the last.—On account of his position as the chief of the governors of the wise men, Daniel would not “come in” till last.

Belteshazzar.—See Note on Daniel 1:7; Introduction, § 6.

The spirit . . .—He means his own gods, for though he recognised Jehovah to be a “high God,” yet he acknowledged Him only as one out of many.

Daniel 4:8-9. But at the last Daniel came in before me — Whether sent for by the king, or brought by another, appears not, but he was last, that it might appear that he only, or rather, his God, who revealed them to him, had the true understanding of these secrets: for if he had come first, or before the rest had tried all their skill in vain, they would have been ready to affirm they understood the interpretation of the dream as well as he, and so God would not have had the glory of it; but now it was evident that the interpretation was from the Spirit of God enlightening the prophet. In whom is the spirit of the holy gods — Who is enlightened by the gods, or heavenly powers, with a supernatural degree of knowledge, such as none of the wise men of Babylon can attain to. The original words, however, may be rendered, the holy God, as they are in the Greek and Arabic: and it is probable that this king had now the one true God in his mind. O Belteshazzar, master — Or, chief, of the magicians, as Wintle translates the words. That he was superior to, or placed as a governor over, all the magicians, or wise men, see on Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:48. Because I know that the spirit of the holy gods — Or rather, of the holy God, is in thee, and that no secret troubleth thee — Or, is difficult to thee. The LXX. read, ουκ αδυνατει σε, is not impossible to thee. Thou art not at a loss to find out any secret thing whatsoever. Tell me the visions of my dream, and the interpretation thereof — Nebuchadnezzar tells the dream himself in the following words; so that the meaning of this sentence must be, Tell me the interpretation of the dream. The LXX. translate it thus: Hear the vision of my dream, which I saw, and tell me the interpretation thereof.4:1-18 The beginning and end of this chapter lead us to hope, that Nebuchadnezzar was a monument of the power of Divine grace, and of the riches of Divine mercy. After he was recovered from his madness, he told to distant places, and wrote down for future ages, how God had justly humbled and graciously restored him. When a sinner comes to himself, he will promote the welfare of others, by making known the wondrous mercy of God. Nebuchadnezzar, before he related the Divine judgments upon him for his pride, told the warnings he had in a dream or vision. The meaning was explained to him. The person signified, was to be put down from honour, and to be deprived of the use of his reason seven years. This is surely the sorest of all temporal judgments. Whatever outward affliction God is pleased to lay upon us, we have cause to bear it patiently, and to be thankful that he continues the use of our reason, and the peace of our consciences. Yet if the Lord should see fit by such means to keep a sinner from multiplying crimes, or a believer from dishonouring his name, even the dreadful prevention would be far preferable to the evil conduct. God has determined it, as a righteous Judge, and the angels in heaven applaud. Not that the great God needs the counsel or concurrence of the angels, but it denotes the solemnity of this sentence. The demand is by the word of the holy ones, God's suffering people: when the oppressed cry to God, he will hear. Let us diligently seek blessings which can never be taken from us, and especially beware of pride and forgetfulness of God.But at the last - After the others had shown that they could not interpret the dream. Why Daniel was not called with the others does not appear; nor is it said in what manner he was at last summoned into the presence of the king. It is probable that his skill on a former occasion Daniel 2 was remembered, and that when all the others showed that they had no power to interpret the dream, he was called in by Nebuchadnezzar. The Latin Vulgate renders this, Donee collega ingressus est - "until a colleague entered." The Greek, ἕως heōs, "until." Aquila and Symmachus render it, "until another entered before me, Daniel." The common version expresses the sense of the Chaldee with sufficient accuracy, though a more literal translation would be, "until afterward."

Whose name was Belteshazzar - That is, this was the name which he bore at court, or which had been given him by the Chaldeans. See the note at Daniel 1:7.

According to the name of my god - That is, the name of my god Bel, or Belus, is incorporated in the name given to him. This is referred to here, probably, to show the propriety of thus invoking his aid; because he bore the name of the god whom the monarch had adored. There would seem to be a special fitness in summoning him before him, to explain what was supposed to be an intimation of the will of the god whom he worshipped. There is a singular, though not unnatural, mixture of the sentiments of paganism and of the true religion in the expressions which this monarch uses in this chapter. He had been a pagan all his life; yet he had had some knowledge of the true God, and had been made to feel that he was worthy of universal adoration and praise, Daniel 2. That, in this state of mind, he should alternately express such sentiments as were originated by paganism, and those which spring from just views of God, is not unnatural or improbable.

And in whom is the spirit of the holy gods - It is not easy to determine whom he meant by the holy gods. It would seem probable that this was such language as was dictated by the fact that he had been an idolater. He had been brought to feel that the God whom Daniel worshipped, and by whose aid he had been enabled to interpret the dream, was a true God, and was worthy of universal homage; but perhaps his ideas were still much confused, and he only regarded him as superior to all others, though he did not intend to deny the real existence of others. It might be true, in his apprehension, that there were other gods, though the God of Daniel was supreme, and perhaps he meant to say that the spirit of all the gods was in Daniel; that in an eminent degree he was the favorite of heaven, and that he was able to interpret any communication which came from the invisible world. It is perhaps unnecessary to observe here that the word spirit has no intended reference to the Holy Spirit. It is probably used with reference to the belief that the gods were accustomed to impart wisdom and knowledge to certain men, and may mean that the very spirit of wisdom and knowledge which dwelt in the gods themselves seemed to dwell in the bosom of Daniel.

And before him I told the dream - Not requiring him, as he did before Daniel 2, to state both the dream and its meaning.

8. Belteshazzar—called so from the god Bel or Belus (see on [1087]Da 1:7). Daniel came in before me; whether sent for by the king, or brought in by another, appears not, but he was last, that it might appear he had the true understanding of these secrets; for if he had come first, before the rest had done their best in trying all their skill in vain, they would have said they knew as well as he, and so God would not have had the glory; but now it is plain the Spirit of God in the prophet did all.

The holy gods; he speaks in the plural, like an idolater, and because he calls him

Belteshazzar, according to the name of his god, i.e. Bel or Baal. By the

spirit of the gods he means the spirit of divination, or prophecy of future contingent things, which God only knows, and reveals by his Spirit as he pleaseth, which none of the magicians were endued with. But at the last Daniel came in before me,.... Whether sent for or no is not clear; the reason why he came not with the rest might be because he did not associate with them; nor did they care he should be among them, and present at this time; and it may be the king had forgot the knowledge he had of dreams; or, however, did not choose to send for him until he had tried all his wise men; and so it was ordered by the providence of God, and which is the chief reason of all, that he should come last, that the skill of the magicians might appear first to be baffled, and that Daniel, or rather Daniel's God, might be more known, and might be glorified:

whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; so called by him and his courtiers, after the name of his god Bel, with which this name of Daniel begins; See Gill on Daniel 1:7,

and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: meaning either the holy angels, as Saadiah or speaking in his Heathenish manner, having imbibed the notion of many gods, some holy, and some impure; or it may be, speaking in the dialect of the Jews, he may mean the one true God who is holy, and from whom alone is the spirit of prophecy or of foretelling things to come; which he knew by former experience Daniel had:

and before him I told the dream, saying; as follows:

But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was {d} Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,

(d) This no doubt was a great grief to Daniel not only to have his name changed, but to be called by the name of a vile idol, which thing Nebuchadnezzar did to make him forget the true religion of God.

8. at the last] It is difficult to understand how the Aram. can bear this meaning; though no doubt something substantially similar is what is intended. Behrmann renders, ‘And (so it was) till another came in before me, (even) Daniel’; and Bevan (changing a point), ‘And yet another came in before me, (even) Daniel.’

according to the name of my god] viz. Bel. The ‘Bel’ in Belteshazzar is not really the name of the god, but (as explained on Daniel 1:7) is part of the word balâṭsu, ‘his life’; but it may be only an assonance, not an etymology, which the king is represented as expressing,—just as Hebrew writers say, for instance, that Cain or Moses was so called because of the verbs ‘I have gotten,’ ‘I have drawn out,’ although philologically Cain cannot possibly mean ‘gotten,’ or Moses ‘drawn out.’

in whom is the spirit, &c.] imitated, it seems, from Genesis 41:38 (of Joseph), ‘a man in whom the spirit of God is.’ On the sense of ‘spirit’ in the O.T., see on Joel 2:28 (in the Cambridge Bible).

the holy gods] Nebuchadnezzar expresses himself as a polytheist: though in Daniel 4:3; Daniel 4:34-35 he uses language indistinguishable from that of pure monotheism. The same expression occurs in the Phœnician inscription of Eshmunazar, king of Sidon (3–4 cent. b.c.), lines 9 and. 22[239]. On the sense attaching to the term ‘holy’ (which has here hardly any ethical connotation, and means rather what we should express by ‘divine’), see Hastings’ Dict. of the Bible, ii. 395–7; and cf. Sanday-Headlam, Comm. on the Epistle to the Romans, on Daniel 1:7.

[239] Hogarth, Authority and Archæology (1899), p. 137 f.Verse 8. - But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying. This verse is also omitted in the Septuagint. Instead of this verse and those preceding, this verse occurs after the account of the dream, "And when I arose from my couch in the morning, I called Daniel, the ruler of the wise men, and the chief of the interpreters of dreams, and I related to him the dream, and he showed me all the interpretation of it." Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. The Septuagint arranges differently: instead of deferring the account of the dream till Nebuchadnezzar tells it to Daniel, the account of the dream follows immediately upon the statement of the fact that it had occurred and had troubled the king. In it, as we have seen, there is nothing of the summoning of all the wise men of Babylon in all their various classes. This summoning of the whole college of wise men, astrologers, soothsayers, and Chaldeans, is in obvious contradiction, not only to Daniel 2:48, but also to the ninth verse of the chapter before us. There was no need of summoning the college of augurs until the king had consulted their head. The explanation of these verses and the occasion of their interpolation is not unlike the fact narrated in Daniel 2:2, where Nebuchadnezzar, on account of his first dream, calls together the wise men - that when he had a dream that troubled him it was natural that Nebuchadnezzar should do as the Septuagint declares he did, summon "Daniel, the ruler of the wise men, and the chief of the interpreters of dreams." One result of which follows, if we discard these verses, i.e. that we get rid, in this passage, of the class of "Chaldeans," and further, of the etymology of "Belteshazzar," both of which have been made objections to the authenticity of Daniel.
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