Daniel 5:18
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
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(18) The most high God.—Comp. this and the three following verses with Daniel 4:16-17; Daniel 4:22-25.

Daniel 5:18-19. O thou king — Before Daniel reads the writing, he judges it proper to remind the king of God’s dealings with Nebuchadnezzar, his progenitor, and of those remarkable instances of divine providence, both in mercy and in judgment, which were intended to be an instructive lesson, as to all princes that should hear of them, so especially to all the descendants of that great monarch. He also, with great fidelity and seriousness, sets Belshazzar’s profane conduct before him, that he might be humbled and brought to repentance. The most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, &c. — His great power, and vast extent of empire, were the gifts of God to him, and were not acquired by his own policy or bravery, or those of his generals and armies. Grotius explains the different terms of this verse thus: A kingdom, that is, a widely-extended empire; majesty, or magnificence among his subjects; glory from his victories; and honour from the enlargement of the city, the building of its walls, temple, and palace. And for the majesty that he gave him — For the vast power, riches, and victorious hand which he gave him; all people, nations, &c., trembled and feared before him, &c. — We have here a strong picture of the absolute and independent power of these princes; they regarded their subjects only as slaves. Xerxes, having assembled the great men of his kingdom, when he had determined to undertake the war against Greece, said to them, “I have assembled you that I might not seem to act solely by my own counsel; but remember that I expect obedience, not advice from you.” — Calmet.

5:18-31 Daniel reads Belshazzar's doom. He had not taken warning by the judgments upon Nebuchadnezzar. And he had insulted God. Sinners are pleased with gods that neither see, nor hear, nor know; but they will be judged by One to whom all things are open. Daniel reads the sentence written on the wall. All this may well be applied to the doom of every sinner. At death, the sinner's days are numbered and finished; after death is the judgment, when he will be weighed in the balance, and found wanting; and after judgment the sinner will be cut asunder, and given as a prey to the devil and his angels. While these things were passing in the palace, it is considered that the army of Cyrus entered the city; and when Belshazzar was slain, a general submission followed. Soon will every impenitent sinner find the writing of God's word brought to pass upon him, whether he is weighed in the balance of the law as a self-righteous Pharisee, or in that of the gospel as a painted hypocrite.O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom ... - This reference to Nebuchadnezzar is evidently designed to show to Belshazzar the wickedness of his own course, and the reason which he had to apprehend the Divine vengeance, because he had not learned to avoid the sins which brought so great calamities upon his predecessor. As he was acquainted with what had occurred to Nebuchadnezzar; as he had doubtless seen the proclamation which he had made on his recovery from the dreadful malady which God had brought upon him for his pride; and as he had not humbled himself, but had pursued the same course which Nebuchadnezzar did, he had the greater reason to apprehend the judgment of heaven. See Daniel 5:22-23. Daniel here traces all the glory which Nebuchadnezzar had to "the most high God," reminding the king that whatever honor and majesty he had he was equally indebted for it to the same source, and that he must expect a similar treatment from him. 18. God gave—It was not his own birth or talents which gave him the vast empire, as he thought. To make him unlearn his proud thought was the object of God's visitation on him.

majesty—in the eyes of his subjects.

glory—from his victories.

honour—from the enlargement and decoration of the city.

This the prophet repeats, to put Belshazzar in mind how God dealt with his father; for it is good for kings to read over the story of their ancestors, and take warning, and take example. In the first they are seamarks, in the second landmarks.

O thou king,.... "Hear" (t), O king; so Aben Ezra supplies it; what he was about to say first, in order to prepare him for the meaning of the handwriting, and the cause of it; or, "thou knowest", as Saadiah supplies it; namely, what follows:

the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom: a very large one, which reached to the ends of the earth: this was not to be ascribed to his predecessor that left it to him; or to his victorious arms, which increased it; or to his idol gods, to whom he attributed it; but to the most high God, from whom promotion alone cometh; and who, being above all gods and kings, sets up, and pulls down, as he pleases; he gave him his large dominions:

and majesty, and glory, and honour; greatness among men; glory and honour from them, on account of the majesty of his person and kingdom; the victories he obtained, and the great things he did to make him famous while he lived, and to perpetuate his memory after death.

(t) So Pagninus, Munster.

O thou king, the most high God gave {l} Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:

(l) Before he read the writing, he declares to the king his great ingratitude toward God, who could not be moved to give him the glory, considering God's wonderful work toward his grandfather, and so shows that he does not sin from ignorance but from malice.

18–24. Before interpreting the writing Daniel reads the king a lesson. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, combined with his refusal to recognize the sovereignty of the true God, had brought upon him a bitter humiliation: Belshazzar has exhibited the same faults yet more conspicuously: and the present sign has been sent in order to warn him of the impending punishment.

18 the kingdom, and greatness, and glory, and majesty] Cf. Daniel 4:22; Daniel 4:36.

Daniel 5:18The address, Thou, O king, is here an absolute clause, and is not resumed till Daniel 5:22. By this address all that follows regarding Nebuchadnezzar is placed in definite relation to Belshazzar. The brilliant description of Nebuchadnezzar's power in Daniel 5:18 and Daniel 5:19 has undeniably the object of impressing it on the mind of Belshazzar that he did not equal his father in power and majesty. Regarding וגו עממיּא, see under Daniel 3:4, and with regard to the Kethiv זאעין, with the Keri יעין, see under Daniel 3:3. מחא is not from מחא, to strike (Theodot., Vulg.), but the Aphel of חיא (to live), the particip. of which is מחי in Deuteronomy 32:39, contracted from מחיא, here the part. מחא, in which the Jod is compensated by the lengthening of the vowel a4. Accordingly, there is no ground for giving the preference, with Buxt., Ges., Hitz., and others, to the variant מחא, which accommodates itself to the usual Targum. form. The last clause in Daniel 5:19 reminds us of 1 Samuel 2:6-7. In Daniel 5:20 and Daniel 5:21 Daniel brings to the remembrance of Belshazzar the divine judgment that fell upon Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4). רם is not the passive part., but the perf. act. with an intransitive signification; cf. Winer, 22, 4. תּקף, strong, to be and to become firm, here, as the Hebr. חזק, Exodus 7:13, of obduracy. העדּיו, 3rd pers. plur. imper., instead of the passive: they took away, for it was taken away, he lost it; see under Daniel 3:4, and Winer, 49, 3. שׁוּי is also to be thus interpreted, since in its impersonal use the singular is equivalent to the plur.; cf. Winer. There is no reason for changing (with v. Leng. and Hitz.) the form into shewiy, part. Piel. The change of construction depends on the rhetorical form of the address, which explains also the naming of the ערדין, wild asses, as untractable beasts, instead of בּרא חיות (beasts of the field), Daniel 4:20 (23). Regarding the Kethiv עליה, see under Daniel 4:14; and for the subject, cf. Daniel 4:22 (25), 29 (32).
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