Daniel 4:9
O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
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(9) Troubleth thee.—Literally, goadeth thee, or, causeth thee this difficulty.

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.O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians - "Master," in the sense that he was first among them, or was superior to them all. Or, perhaps, he still retained office at the head of this class of men - the office to which he had been appointed when he interpreted the former dream, Daniel 2:48. The word rendered "master" (רב rab) is that which was applied to a teacher, a chief, or a great man among the Jews - from where came the title "rabbi." Compare Daniel 2:48; Daniel 5:11.

Because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee - This he had learned by the skill which he had shown in interpreting his dream on former occasion, Daniel 2.

And no secret troubleth thee - That is, so troubles you that you cannot explain it; it is not beyond your power to disclose its signification. The word rendered "secret" (רז r̂az) occurs in Daniel 2:18-19, Daniel 2:27-30, Daniel 2:47. It is not elsewhere found. It means what is hidden, and has reference here to the concealed truth or intimation of the Divine will couched under a dream. The word rendered "troubleth thee" (אנס 'ânas) means, to urge, to press, to compel; and the idea here is, than it did not so "press" upon him as to give him anxiety. It was an easy matter for him to disclose its meaning. Greek, "No mystery is beyond your power" - ὀυκ ἀδυνατεῖ σε ouk adunatei se.

Tell me the visions of my dream - The nature of the vision, or the purport of what I have seen. He seems to have desired to know what sort of a vision he should regard this to be, as well as its interpretation - whether as an intimation of the Divine will, or as an ordimary dream. The Greek and Arabic render this, "Hear the vision of my dream, and tell me the interpretation thereof." This accords better with the probable meaning of the passage, though the word "hear" is not in the Chaldee.

9. spirit of the holy gods—Nebuchadnezzar speaks as a heathen, who yet has imbibed some notions of the true God. Hence he speaks of "gods" in the plural but gives the epithet "holy," which applies to Jehovah alone, the heathen gods making no pretension to purity, even in the opinion of their votaries (De 32:31; compare Isa 63:11). "I know" refers to his knowledge of Daniel's skill many years before (Da 2:8); hence he calls him "master of the magicians."

troubleth—gives thee difficulty in explaining it.

This argued he was convinced of Daniel’s great abilities, and that he truly deserved the title and dignity the king had honoured him with; and by this persuasion and confidence he had of him, Daniel would show he answered both the opinion and expectation the king had of him.

O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians,.... So he called him, either because he excelled them in knowledge, and was greater than they, as Jacchiades; though not of their rank and order, which Daniel would have scorned to have been among, and reckoned of; so that this would have been no compliment, but a grief unto him; or because he was appointed by the king chief over them, and even over their governors; See Gill on Daniel 2:48,

because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee; See Gill on Daniel 4:8;

and no secret troubleth thee; any ways perplexes thy mind to find it out; it is easy to thee to come at; it gives thee no manner of trouble to get knowledge of it; there is no secret hidden from thee; all is plain before thee, and with the utmost facility canst thou reveal it:

tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen; that is, the meaning of them; for the king remembered this his dream, and afterwards tells it very particularly:

and the interpretation of it; it may be rendered, "that is, the interpretation of it" (h); for that only was what the king wanted.

(h) "id est, interpretationem ejus", Junius & Tremellius, Broughtonus, Michaelis.

O Belteshazzar, {e} master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.

(e) Which also was a great grief to the Prophet, to be numbered among the sorcerers and men whose practices were wicked and contrary to God's word.

9. master of the magicians] see Daniel 2:48.

troubleth thee] forceth, constraineth thee, i.e. reduces thee to straits.

Verse 9. - O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. This verso is also omitted in the Septuagint. Theodotion and the Peshitta both have this passage, but with slight variations from the Massoretic text. Instead of "No secret troubleth [אָנֵס, 'anays, 'compel,' Esther 1:8] thee," Thedotion renders, "No secret (μυστήριον) baffles (ἀδυνατεῖ) thee." The Peshitta renders. "And no secret is hid (ethcasee) from thee," reading, instead of אָנֵס, probably הִתְכְסִי. Behrmann, who translates the word by verborgen, thinks the choice of the word occasioned by Ezekiel 28:3, "No secret is hid from thee" (עְמָמוּך), this last word, he thinks, occasioning the use of אנס; but עֲמַם: is used in Aramaic (see Leviticus 13:6, "dark" of the spot of leprosy). It seems more probable that there is some mistake in the reading. The Massoretic reading of the last clause seems modelled on the situation in the second chapter, where Nebuchadnezzar demands of the magicians that they not only give the interpretation of the dream, but tell the dream itself. The versions here do not agree with the Massoretic. Theodotion renders, "Hear the vision (ὅρασιν) of the dream which I saw, and tell me its interpretation." The Peshitta has, "In the vision of my dream I was seeing visions of my head, and tell me the interpretation." The Massoretic reading contradicts the situation, and the variety of reading in the two versions confirms the suspicion of this verse induced by its absence from the Septuagint. "Master of the magicians" (rob-hartum-maya). There is nothing in Daniel 2:48 about the promotion of Daniel over the "magi-clans," but only over the "governors (signeen) of the wise men (hakaymeen) of Babylon" This is not to be in itself regarded as a proof of antagonism between these verses and the earlier portion of the, book, as Daniel might have been promoted in the interval. The Peshitta calls Daniel rab-hahmeen, "chief of the wise men;" Theodotion, ἄρχων τῶν ἐπαοιδῶν. It is also to be observed that the writer of these verses does not make Daniel rab-mag, which so generally was anciently understood to mean "master of the magicians." Avoiding an alluring blunder is often as clear a proof of knowledge as a directly correct statement. "Spirit of the holy gods;" not "the Spirit," but "a spirit." The Authorized Version is here correct in translating "gods," not "God," as the adjective is plural; not as Theodotion, who renders, "a holy spirit of God," reading, רוּחַ אלה קְדושָׁה. Daniel 4:9(Daniel 4:3-6)

Therefore Nebuchadnezzar commanded the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:2) to be called to him, that they might interpret to him the dream. But they could not do so, although on this occasion he only asked them to give the interpretation, and not, as in Daniel 2:2, at the same time the dream itself. Instead of the Kethiv עללין, the Keri here and at Daniel 5:8 gives the contracted form עלּין, which became possible only by the shortening of , as in חשׁחן Daniel 3:16. The form אחרין is differently explained; apparently it must be the plur. masc. instead of אחרן, and אחרין עד, to the last, a circumlocution of the adverb at last. That אחרין means posterus, and אחרן alius, Hitzig has not yet furnished the proof. The question, wherefore Daniel came only when the Chaldean wise men could not interpret the dream, is not answered satisfactorily by the remark of Zndel, p. 16, that it was the natural course that first they should be called who by virtue of their wisdom should interpret the dream, and that then, after their wisdom had failed, Daniel should be called, who had gained for himself a name by revelations not proceeding from the class of the Magi. For if Nebuchadnezzar had still the events of Daniel 2 in view, he would without doubt have called him forthwith, since it certainly did not come into his mind, in his anxiety on account of his dream, first to try the natural wisdom of his Magi. The objection offered by Hitzig, that the king does not go at once to his chief magician, v. 6 (Daniel 4:9), who had already (Daniel 2) shown himself to be the best interpreter of dreams, is not thereby confuted; still less is it by the answer that the custom was not immediately to call the president of the Magi (Jahn), or that in the haste he was not at once thought of (Hv.). Though it may have been the custom not to call the chief president in every particular case, yet a dream by the king, which had filled him with terror, was an altogether unusual occurrence. If Daniel, therefore, was in this case first called only when the natural wisdom of the Magi had proved its inadequacy, the reason of this was, either that Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten what had occurred several years before (Daniel 2), and since the chief president of the wise men was only in special cases called on for counsel, therefore only the incorporated cultivators of the magician's art were called, and only when these could not accomplish that which was asked of them was the chief president Daniel required to come, - or it lay in this, that the king, afraid of receiving an unwelcome answer, purposely adopted the course indicated. Kranichfeld has decided in favour of this latter supposition. "The king," he thinks, "knew from the dream itself that the tree (v. 8 [Daniel 4:11]) reaching unto heaven and extending to the end of the whole earth represented a royal person ruling the earth, who could come to ruin on account of the God of the Jews, and would remain in his ruin till there was an acknowledgment of the Almighty; cf. vv. 13, 14, (Daniel 4:16, Daniel 4:17). There was this reason for the king's keeping Daniel the Jew at a distance from this matter of the dream. Without doubt he would think himself intended by the person concerned in the dream; and since the special direction which the dream took (Daniel 4:14) set forth as its natural point of departure an actual relation corresponding to that of the king to the God of Daniel, it must have occasioned to him a well-grounded fear (cf. Daniel 4:24), as in the case of Ahab, the idolater, towards Micah, the prophet of Jehovah (cf. 1 Kings 22:8), of a severe judgment, leading him to treat with any other regarding his matter rather than with Daniel." For the establishment of this view Kranichfeld refers to the "king's subsequent address to Daniel, designed especially to appease and captivate (vv. 5, 6 [Daniel 4:8, Daniel 4:9]), as well as the visibly mild and gentle deportment of the king toward the worshipper of the God of the Jews." This proceeding tending to captivate appears in the appellation, Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; for Nebuchadnezzar, by the addition of a name of honour in commemoration of the celebrated god of the kingdom, intended to show favour toward him, as also in the expression which follows, In whom is the spirit of the holy gods, which Nebuchadnezzar repeats in the address. But neither in the one nor the other of these considerations can we perceive the intention of specially captivating and appeasing the Jew Daniel; - not in the latter of these expressions, for two reasons: 1. because Nebuchadnezzar uses the expression not merely in the address to Daniel, but also in the references to him which go before; had he designed it to captivate him, he would have used these words of honour only in the address to him; 2. because the expression, "in whom is the spirit of the holy gods," is so truly heathenish, that the Jew, who knew only one God, could not feel himself specially flattered by having the spirit of the holy gods ascribed to him.

If Nebuchadnezzar had had the intention of gaining the favour of Daniel, he would certainly, according to his confession (Daniel 2:47), have attributed to him the spirit of the God of gods, the Lord of lords, - a confession which even as a heathen he could utter. We cannot give the king so little credit for understanding as to suppose that he meant to show

(Note: Calvin here rightly remarks: non dubium est, quin hoc nomen graviter vulneraverit animum prophetae.)

a special favour to Daniel, who held so firmly the confession of his father's God, by reminding him that he had given him the name Belteshazzar after the name of his god Bel, whom the Jews abhorred as an idol. Thus the reminding him of this name, as well as the saying that he possessed the spirit of the holy gods, is not accounted for by supposing that he intended to appease and captivate Daniel. In showing the unsatisfactoriness of this interpretation of these expressions, we have set aside also the explanation of the reason, which is based upon it, why Daniel was called in to the king only after the Chaldean wise men; and other weighty considerations can also be adduced against it. First, the edict contains certainly nothing which can give room to the conjecture that Nebuchadnezzar entertained no true confidence, but much rather want of confidence, in him. The comparison of Nebuchadnezzar also with king Ahab in his conduct toward the prophet Micah is not suitable, because Ahab was not a mere polytheist as Nebuchadnezzar, but much rather, like Antiochus Epiphanes, persecuted the servants of Jehovah in his kingdom, and at the instigation of his heathenish wife Jezebel wished to make the worship of Baal the only religion of his kingdom. Finally, the relation of the dream does not indicate that Nebuchadnezzar, if he knew or suspected that the dream referred to himself as ruler over the whole earth, thought that he would come to ruin because of the God of the Jews. For that this does not follow from v. 14 (Daniel 4:17), is shown not only by the divine visitation that happened to the king, as mentioned in v. 27 (Daniel 4:30) in fulfilment of the dream, but also by the exhortation to the king with which Daniel closes the interpretation, "to break off sin by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor" (v. 24 [v. 27]).

Thus there only remains this supposition, that the former revelations of God to the king had passed away from his heart and his memory; which was not surprising in the successful founder and ruler of a world-kingdom, if we consider that from twenty-five to thirty years must have passed away since Daniel interpreted to him his dream in the second year of his reign, and from ten to fifteen had passed since the miracle of the deliverance of the three from the burning fiery furnace. But if those earlier revelations of God were obscured in his heart by the fulness of his prosperity, and for ten years Daniel had no occasion to show himself to him as a revealer of divine secrets, then it is not difficult to conceive how, amid the state of disquietude into which the dream recorded in this chapter had brought him, he only gave the command to summon all the wise men of Babylon without expressly mentioning their president, so that they came to him first, and Daniel was called only when the natural wisdom of the Chaldeans had shown itself helpless.

The naming of Daniel by his Hebrew name in the manifesto, intended for all the people of the kingdom as well as for the Jews, is simply intended, as in Daniel 2:29, to designate the interpreter of the dream, as distinguished from the native wise men of Babylon, as a Jew, and at the same time as a worshipper of the most high God; and by the addition, "whose name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god," Nebuchadnezzar intends to indicate that Daniel by this name was brought into fellowship with his chief god Bel, and that not only as a worshipper of the God of the Jews, but also of the great god Bel, he had become a partaker of the spirit of the holy gods. But by the holy gods Nebuchadnezzar does not understand Jehovah, the Holy One, deriving this predicate "holy," as M. Geier says, ex theologia Isralitica, and the plur. "gods" denoting, as Calovius supposes, the mysterium pluralitatis personarum; but he speaks of the holy gods, as Jerome, Calvin, and Grotius supposed, as a heathen (ut idololatra) in a polytheistic sense. For that the revelation of supernatural secrets belonged to the gods, and that the man who had this power must possess the spirit of the gods, all the heathen acknowledged. Thus Pharaoh (Genesis 41:38) judged regarding Joseph, and thus also the Chaldeans say to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:11) that only the gods could know his dream. The truth lying at the foundation of this belief was acknowledged by Joseph before Pharaoh, as also by Daniel before the Chaldean king, for both of them declared before the heathen kings that the interpretation of their dreams was not in the power of man, but could come only from God (Genesis 41:16; Daniel 2:28). But when in the case before us Nebuchadnezzar speaks of the holy gods, he means by the expression the ἀγαθοδαίμονες as opposed to the κακοδαίμονες, using the word holy of the good gods, probably from his conversation with Daniel on the subject.

In the address, Daniel 4:6, he calls Belteshazzar חרטמּיּא רב, master of the magicians, probably from the special branch of Chaldean wisdom with which Daniel was particularly conversant, at the same time that he was chief president over all the magicians. אנס, to oppress, to compel any one, to do violence to him; here, to make trouble, difficulty.

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