Neither have we listened to your servants the prophets, which spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Neither have we hearkened.—The aggravation of guilt. All God’s warnings have been unheeded by high and low alike, by all to whom they were addressed.
Which spake in thy name to our kings ... - To all classes of the people, calling on kings and rulers to turn from their idolatry, and the people to forsake their sins, and to seek the Lord. It was a characteristic of the prophets that they spared no classes of the nation, but faithfully uttered all the word of God. Their admonitions had been unheeded, and the people wow saw clearly that these calamities had come upon them because they had "not" hearkened to their voice.
1. God’s authority over all.
2. God’s mercy towards all, of all sorts.
3. The aggravation of this sin, because it was of all sorts, as Genesis 6:12,13 2 Chronicles 36:16. Now the abuse of ambassadors hath by the law of nations ever been highly resented, 2 Samuel 10:12:29-31.
which spake in thy name; they came by the authority of God, being sent by him; they delivered their message in his name, being his ambassadors; and which as it was an honour done to this people to have such men sent unto them, so it was an aggravation of their sin that they showed no respect to them; since their words were not their own, but the Lord's, which they spoke to all sorts of persons:
to our kings; one after another, as to Ahaz, Manasseh, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah; kings of the house of David, and over the land of Judah:
our princes; princes of the blood, nobles, and courtiers:
and our fathers; meaning not only their immediate ancestors, but their subordinate rulers, civil magistrates, judges or elders of the people, as Jacchiades interprets it:
and to all the people of the land: of Judea; the common people, as distinguished from persons of rank and figure before expressed. These several persons are named, partly to observe how faithful the prophets were in delivering their message to all sorts of persons, high and low, not fearing the faces of any; and partly to show that none could plead ignorance, or excuse themselves with that, since all had had sufficient warning and instruction: as also to observe, that the sin of rejecting the true prophets of the Lord was universal among them, all were guilty of it.Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. The guilt is the greater, because Israel had been warned, but had not listened to the warning.
neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets] A reminiscence of Jeremiah 26:5; cf. Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 25:4; Jeremiah 29:19; Jeremiah 35:15; Jeremiah 44:4 (all containing the expression ‘my servants the prophets,’ followed by ‘and ye (or they) hearkened not’).
to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land] The same combination in Jeremiah 44:21; cf. ‘our fathers, our kings, and our princes,’ Jeremiah 44:17 : comp. Nehemiah 9:32; Nehemiah 9:34.Verse 6. - Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy Name to our kings, our princes, and oar fathers, and to all the people of the land. The Septuagint, while agreeing in the main with the Massoretic, translates "to all the people of the land" as "to every nation on the earth." Theodotion is more accurate, but the Peshitta maintains the ambiguity. Daniel continues his confession of sin. Not only will they not keep God's commands, but when God sent prophets, men of their brethren, to speak to them with human voice, they would not hearken. The designation of the ordinary inhabitants, the common people, as עַם־הָאָרֶצ ('am ha'aretz.) is a usage that became more pronounced in later days, when all not educated as rabbin were called 'am ha'aretz. The resemblance is striking between this passage and Nehemiah 9:30-32. It is, perhaps, impossible to settle on merely critical grounds which is the more primitive form. There is much in both passages that would suggest a third form, the independent source of both. Not unlikely the source was some liturgic prayer. As the shorter, the passage before us may be nearer this original source. 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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