115-103 Daniel Chapter 2
The dreams that Nebuchadnezzar had were intense dreams. As dreams from God must be. The dreams disturbed the king to the point that he could not sleep. They gave him a sense of uneasiness and bothered him throughout his days. Not knowing what they meant but also believing that there was a significant meaning behind them the king sought for understanding. He called for the wise men, the magicians and sooth Sayers in his court. He was not wanting to hear just idle talk but wanted a clear and accurate meaning and interpretation of the dreams. Experience of the past had revealed to the king that the magicians had not always been correct or truthful in their interpretations. In the ancient world the dreams of men were of great importance and they placed great credence upon them.
The use of the word dreams in the text probably means that the king had a succession of dreams rather than just a dream. It may be that he had slipped into and out of the dreams as he struggled for sleep during the night. It could also so mean that the king kept having the same dream for mutable times as the singular word dream is later in the text.
These dreams occurred in the second year of King Nebuchadnezzar and may seem in conflict with the three year training period of Daniel and his friends. As we learned before that the accession year was not counted which by the way we would count the king’s reign it would have been in the third year. Reviewing the process we learned that the year that he became king would have been counted as a full year even though it was not. This being the case Daniel and his friends would have past their graduation time.
King Nebuchadnezzar called upon all of the magicians and enchanters, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans may have been the natives of Chaldea or a class of Astrologers. These were the wise men of the king’s court from who he would seek the answer to the meaning of his dreams. Daniel and his friends were omitted from this group because they were new and may have not fully trusted or expected to be of the wisdom necessary to perform the needed task.
These wise men were not aware of the request that the king would make upon them. The king, most likely, was wanting them to all come to the same interpretation and be in agreement together on the dreams meaning. The wise men would have been confidant that they could find the meaning of the king’s dreams, as they had in their possession past records in their books of dreams they had relied on before.
The magicians of the court were the ones who could see the future by interpreting it through ritual means. Enchanters were able to divine things by their ability to communicate with the dead. Sorcerers practiced sorcery by casting spells and used chants and spells. The Chaldeans’ were of the priestly cast in society who studied the heavens in order to determine the future. Some may laugh at this as a way of means of understanding dreams or projecting the future. But today in our society many of these same type of people make a living practicing these methods.
King Nebuchadnezzar was not a man’s fool, he was a wise king of a great empire. The Babylonian empire of that day was the super power of the world. Out of a need to understand his dreams he had called the wise of his court but his confidence in them was not great.
This was nothing new to the wise men of the court as they had all been there before the king. To them they were faced with the king having a dream that he wanted to know the meaning of. They asked the king to tell them what the dream was and then they would research the answer. The use of the word Chaldeans’ probably means the whole body of the wise men.
King Nebuchadnezzar had also been in this position before and had seen these men interpret dreams for his father. The king was somewhat less than impressed with their abilities. The king wanted no possibility of misunderstanding, as may have been seen in the past, and wanted to be sure that their answer was absolutely correct.
We do not know the discussions that the king and the wise men had but in the end the king laid down the ground work for what they would do. King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that they would tell him what the dream was and then tell him what it meant. If the wise men truly were as they claimed to be they would know his dream without him telling them. If they knew the dream, then they could also know the interpretation.
King Nebuchadnezzar knew the dream that he had and did not need to hear it repeated by his wise men. The king also believe that if they were as they say they should know his dream. Here the king emphasizes that they would tell him his dream and then they would tell him its meaning. King Nebuchadnezzar was upset, the dreams had disturbed him greatly, and he desired to know the correct meaning of the dream. There may have been a fear that he thought that the meaning of the dream could be the end of his reign. The king also had a mistrust of the wise men from previous experiences. To make the point at how serious this was the king laid down the rule of what the wise men would do and the rewards or the punishment.
If the wise men could not tell him what the dream was and could not tell him what the dream meant then he would destroy them and their houses. If they were wise men who had special powers through the gods, then they should with no problem fulfill his commands. If the wise men fulfilled their duty, then they would receive untold riches and honor. This is the power of a despot who held the life and death of his subjects in his hands.
The wise men no doubt were terrified and possibly at a loss for words. Again they repeated that if the king would tell them the dreams they would interpret them. They must have felt the weight of the intense fury of the king. They may have even wished that they were in the company of the king’s father that they might not be standing before a furious king now with their hearts pounding in their chests.
The king was firm in his decision and recognized that the wise men were now employing tactics to delay time. Now the king repeated that there was only one law for them if they did not do as he commanded. Their methods of deception to delay the king’s anger and in hope that something would turn up giving them a solution. King Nebuchadnezzar pressed that if they did not tell him what he needed to know he would fulfill his promise to them. The king demanded that the wise men tell him his dream and then he would have confidence in them that they could interpret it. The king’s reasoning was that if god could tell them his dream then that god would also tell them its interpretation. If the wise men could not do this, then their fate in the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar was doomed.
With the wise men’s lives in the balance their reply was simple in defense. None had the power to provide the king with the answer to his request. That no such request had ever before been placed before the wise men of his court. The king was asking them to do something that only a god could do.
This was an admission by the wise men that they were counterfeits. The wise men had always claimed that they could discern the will of the gods. Now they were having to admit before the king of Babylon that they were not able to hear the gods speak. With this being said the wise of Babylon were unable to give answer to the king’s request.
In the mind of King Nebuchadnezzar the wise men had proven themselves to be charlatans. The king became so infuriated that he commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. This was an unreasonable behavior even for a despot of a king in those times. It is speculative to say that this action may have been an indication of the manic-depressive disease that would afflict the king as we will see in Daniel chapter four.
The king’s command went forth to his officers that all the wise men of Babylon were to be executed. We do not know if any were able to escape the execution. There would have been little time before the soldiers were made ready to carry out the order of the king. Daniel and his friends would not have been able to escape. Even as they were not yet qualified to be present in the court still they would have been effected by the king’s decree.
Only a limited amount of soldiers were charged to carry out the king’s decree under the Captain of the king’s own guard, Arioch. As the executions began it was a slow process which allowed time for some to escape and Daniel to approach Arioch. Daniel came to him showing sound wisdom and sought to delay Arioch in carrying out his duty.
It is presumed that as Arioch carried out the order he would have to read the decree before each execution. If so, this gave time to Daniel to question Arioch what was the purpose for such an order. Upon hearing the reasoning behind the decree Daniel asked the Captain to take him to the king. Before the king Daniel asked for time so that he could find the answer to the king’s dream. Because of Daniel’s humility and prudence, and that King Nebuchadnezzar truly wanted to know the meaning of his dreams, he granted time to Daniel.
Daniel went to his friends and informed them of what was happening. He asked them that they would join him in prayer to God that the secret of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream might be revealed to him.
We must assume that Daniel and his friends lived together in an official dwelling. This would be why Arioch would have known where to find them. Together they approached God in a thankful manner and desiring His mercies. We should always enter into the courts of the Lord God with praise and thanksgiving. (Psalm 100:4) They acknowledged the Lord that only He could help them in this crisis. It was their desire to continue to serve God and this was why they were asking for His deliverance in this time of trial.
God answered their prayer and in the night Daniel was given a vision of the meaning of the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. Surely it had a profound effect upon Daniel and he gave unto the Lord a prayer of praise.
“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever.” Compare this to Psalm 41:13 and Nehemiah 9:5. The vision that God revealed unto Daniel was a glimpse into the future and this also made Daniel aware that he was serving an everlasting God.
Daniel also recognized the wisdom and might of God that here was the God that controlled the times and the events of history. Here was the God that lifted up the kings and took them down by His own good pleasure. That the God he served not only created the heavens and the earth but also ruled over them. That his God controlled the people of the earth and that He was the God who knew the secret things. That the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could see through the darkness of the future and all was light unto Him. Daniel was not prideful of the vision that God had given unto him. He knew that God gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who seek understanding. Daniel realized that the wisdom of man came from God and man understands because God reveals it to him. That man himself has no reason to believe that his knowledge and wisdom came from himself.
Daniel who was lost in the awesomeness of God now acknowledges the goodness of God and expresses his gratitude with praise. By Daniel’s praise of God first he shows the true priority of his life, which is God. In thankfulness Daniel acknowledges what God had revealed unto him and his friends. Daniel knew that it was not of himself but of God that the answer to the king’s dream had come to him.
He knew that he had not done it alone. We do well to remember that whatever we achieve we owe equally to the prayers and actions of others. Daniel also knew that the God of Israel had looked down upon one of His covenant children and revealed what also had reference to the promise given unto the fathers. Even in the foreign land of Babylon God, the God of Israel was in action for His people.
Daniel went back to the Captain of the guard Arioch to whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon. Arioch was most likely a good man and had no heart to slaughter the wise men of Babylon. Daniel pleaded before him that there was no need to kill the wise men. That if the Captain would take him to the king he would fulfill the request of the king to have an interpretation of his dream.
Wishing to bring some glory upon himself Arioch went to the king and said that he had found one who could give the king answer to his dream. Arioch stated that “I have found the man.” Arioch had not forgotten that Daniel had already spoken to the king
He knew that the king had already spoken to Daniel but he did not want it forgotten who had brought him to him. He knew that if Daniel succeeded, gratitude would be shown all round, and that the king would not forget who had been responsible for discovering him.
Arioch carried out his duty of identifying who Daniel was. This would be important as the king would want to know to whom he was speaking with.
King Nebuchadnezzar came right to the point of their meeting as he wanted no more excuses. The king wanted to know if this man could do all that the others had said was impossible. Was this man, Daniel also a charlatan?
In the meeting Daniel was addressed as Belteshazzar, which was his Babylonian name. Still being a true Jewish man Daniel preferred to be called by his Hebrew name Daniel. As this name demonstrated that he belongs to God.
Daniel first give God the glory for the revelation that the king is about to receive. Daniel contrasted what the wise of Babylon can do with what God can do. Those wise men of Babylon who boasted of their arts and the help of their gods. Yet, they were unable to reveal the truth of the king’s dream. But the God of Israel, the God of the heavens can reveal the secret things as He is all knowing. God is not a secret God and does reveal himself to man and the secret things that He has for them. Therefore Daniel revealed what God had revealed unto him. King Nebuchadnezzar was made known the things that were to happen in his later days. Nebuchadnezzar now knew that the God of the Israelites was the supreme God of the universe and above all other gods.
Daniel spoke in a way that made the king know that the events he was describing were not a near event. It was revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar that the focus is not on today but in the end times of days. In the day when the great purposes of God would become seen. Daniel was not taking about the end of the ages but the end of the days of Nebuchadnezzar.
In the New Testament it is plainly taught that the “end of days” was brought in by the Messiah at the first coming of Jesus. The “end time” began at the resurrection of Jesus. “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” (1 Peter 1:20) The Apostle John also declared the same, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)
The idea is that while the king was lying in bed thinking about the future and what great things he might accomplish. He may have also got into his mind to build a great statue. Which we see that he does in Chapter 3. As a result of this God was revealing to the king what would be coming after these things.
Daniel wanted King Nebuchadnezzar to know that God was making known to him these events because of who he was and how he had been thinking of these things. It was God, the revealer of secrets that had chosen to reveal them to him. Also that this revelation should come to the king as a warning.
Daniel delivers this message from God with a humble spirit. Daniel is only the messenger being used by God to reveal these things to the king. Daniel is no different than any other man and this revelation was not in any way to glorify him. The focus for Nebuchadnezzar is the message from God and not the one delivering the message.
We need not amplify the vision of King Nebuchadnezzar. As most kings of the day it is a great image that could be seen as an idol. Much like many kings had built to glorify themselves. Nebuchadnezzar had seen images as this before in his day and images of multi metals was not a new thing. This image in the dream of the king was huge many times the size of a man, unlike others of the day. As an idol it would have been very impressive as a god. The size of which would place fear in the heats of men but also was designed to glorify King Nebuchadnezzar. The fearful thing in Nebuchadnezzar was that at the top of the image was a head of gold, then each section downward deteriorated to clay at the base. Either material could have been at the foundation but the clay at the foundation made the total statue weak and top heavy. To see this magnificent image standing and then cut down by a bolder smashing the feet which caused it to fall and become as powder was disturbing. More troubling was that the bolder filled the whole earth and a mountain.
The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel both had said that Nebuchadnezzar would be an instrument in the hands of God to bring His judgement upon the world. At this time the kingdom of Babylon was the super power of the day. It was Daniel who was speaking but it was God who stood before King Nebuchadnezzar who had self-centered ideals of his great importance telling him what the future would be for his kingdom.
Daniel used the title of “king of kings” as was also ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar by the Prophet Ezekiel. (Ezekiel 26.7) Considering the attitude of the king this was probably a title used by King Nebuchadnezzar himself and that ego is matched by the image that he built which may have represented himself. It was unusual for monarchs of Mesopotamian times to consider themselves so highly as Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel boldly reminds him that it is God who establishes the throne of Nebuchadnezzar. The king’s greatness is not of himself or the god Marduk, but that it is God who lifted him up. In considering the worlds kingdom, power, strength and glory as descriptive of King Nebuchadnezzar compare Daniel 5:18 and Daniel 7:14 to note that the day will come of a king that is greater.
Daniel tells the king that the head of the image is gold and that it applies to Nebuchadnezzar. There can be no dispute as Babylon is the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar. The head of gold represented the ultimate glory of Nebuchadnezzar. But we cannot just look at the four metals of the image only. The image itself represents idolatry and all the kingdom represented in this image was a kingdom committed to idolatry.
As the king looked upon the image he may have seen his own face looking back at him. But as he looked down what he saw was not the head but that of a body and arms of silver. How hard it must have been for the king to realize that his kingdom would fall to an inferior kingdom. This kingdom was not a singular kingdom as Babylon but a duel kingdom with two arms. An inferior metal, silver, and two kings that would replace Babylon as the superpower. How would this play on the mind of a man who felt that none were as great as he.
It must have pondered the king’s mind as to which two of his neighbors would form together and try to defeat his kingdom. How could they, what two could rule the world as one? But we see who they are in Daniel 8:3-4, 20. This future kingdom will not have the glory or the unitedness of the kingdom of Babylon but they will defeat it.
As King Nebuchadnezzar looks further down the image the sliver become brass. Here we see the third kingdom which is Greece. (Daniel 8:5-8, 21-22) Being that the metal is brass means that it is even more inferior because of its sustained unity. Thus far the quality of the kingdom is deteriorating. This quality is deteriorating is further caused by the fragility for it splits into four kingdoms. In the end the fragility is what the image is all about because idolatry is at the heart of all the kingdoms represented in the image.
Looking further down the image Nebuchadnezzar first sees iron as he looked at the legs. The king would see both the strength and the inferiority of the iron. Weapons were made of iron and would be strength but as he looks to the feet the king sees clay mixed with the iron. This is a strange mixture of strength and weakness as the two materials do not mix together. From the words of Daniel the king realizes that the legs of iron and the feet of clay and iron are the forth kingdom. Some see five kingdoms represented here but that is not probable. In Daniel 7:3 and chapter 8 it is spoken of as four kingdoms. It is also made clear that the fourth kingdom will be at the end of time.
Four represents universalism of the world against Israel. Four rivers flowed from Eden and fed the world. The wind comes from four quarters. The world is north, South, East and West. The kingdoms of the world are building up to a universal kingdom which consumes the other three kingdoms. It represents the whole as in the end all become part of the whole. The image is the empires of the world incorporating into one world kingdom.
The forth kingdom carries all the other kingdoms with it. At first it seems to be the strongest of them all but in time it deteriorates and becomes completely unstable. When the forth kingdom finally falls it takes all the other kingdoms with it. The forth kingdom is made from all the empires of the world and is weekend by the diversity of its populations. This weakening has been the nature of such empires. They have no unity of culture because of the idol worship of false gods and false religions. Thus they carry the seeds of their own destruction.
There are many speculations as to who the fourth kingdom is but nowhere is that kingdom identified in the book of Daniel. There is a hint in Daniel 11:30 that it may represent the renewed Roman Empire. This is tempting but many empires have come since the Roman Empire. Another view is that the legs became the feet and the feet became the toes. This envisions a continuing flow of empires and represents the theory of growing empires into a final world empire. After Greece will come the forth kingdom, a kingdom of the distant future which will evolve into the apocalyptic kingdom. This achieves the pattern of four that is required.
This forth kingdom will begin in strength much as the power of Rome did. Then it will divide into other kingdoms of various strengths. This expresses the fragility of the following kingdoms and moves from strength through diversity to fragile and all in part are represented by false religions.
We will see in Daniel Chapter 8 the gradual movement of these kingdoms. First the one, then two, then four and then many fold kingdoms.
The forth kingdom is strong as iron. This kingdom will subdue all others by crushing their opponents. As it does it too will crush and brake into pieces. This kingdom will be the most terrible of them all and the Roman legions clad in iron certainly fill this mark. For centuries the Roman Empire ruled the known world. As the Roman Empire expanded and assimilated other cultures it became fragile and imploded.
But the Roman Empire as the forth represents more than Rome. It is man and his civilization at its worse. In the power of greed and fortune the kingdom is determined to crush all its fellowmen. It represents an onward flowing of Empires. Babylon and Rome has left ghost that live on through the ages. The forth empire is the apocalyptic empire of Gog and Magog. (Ezekiel 38-39 Isaiah 5:25-30; 24 Isaiah 66:15-16) It is the kingdom of man against the Kingdom of God and His people.
‘In the days of those kings.’ This naturally refers back to the previous verse. The final empire is ruled by a number of kings, including kings of the empires described. But in their day a kingdom will be set up, a kingdom, which replaces theirs, which will never be destroyed. Nor will it make alliances with the other kingdoms, yielding its sovereignty to them. It will have total liberty and freedom. It will ‘strike’ all these empires, and by hitting their weakest point will bring them crashing down. Notice that all collapse, from the gold downwards. The whole basis of these empires, their might, their arrogance, their disunity, their representing false religion, all collapse together. Truth will triumph. Faith in the God of heaven.
King Nebuchadnezzar may have thought the stone represented his descendants, as hinted in chapter three, but Daniel makes it clear as to what he means later on. The stone is the Kingdom of God and His people, the Kingdom of His Messiah and will be the everlasting Kingdom. This Kingdom is the Kingdom created before the throne of God and will make a decisive impact on the earth. The empires of the earth will be destroyed by the Kingdom of God (Daniel 7:13-14, 18, 37) The Kingdom of God will overcome all other kingdoms and fill the whole earth. (Matthew 13:31-33)
This stone was cut out of the mountains without hands because it was done so by God. “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.” (Mark 14:58) The stone has often been referred to as the symbol of the Messiah. (Isaiah 28:16 Psalm 118:22) It is the stone that will cause some men to stumble. (Zechariah 12:3) The Messiah is seen as a stone that destroys the power of the world’s empires by striking the foundations and causing them to fall. (Daniel 7:26) The second stage of the stone is to be the rock of protection for the people of God. (Isaiah 17:10 Isaiah 32:2)
When the Messiah has destroyed the kingdoms of the earth and established His Kingdom then the righteous shall shine as the sun in God’s Kingdom and there no more will be evil.(Matthew 13:43) There will be everlasting peace in God’s everlasting Kingdom.
It was the privilege of King Nebuchadnezzar to have this vision that went far into the future events of the world. The King must have realized through his dream that trusting in world empires was hopeless. If the King did his pride overruled his better judgment. Instead he built a great statue for men to worship. With eyes blinded by his own pride the King missed the point even though he had heard the interpretation of Daniel.
King Nebuchadnezzar did honor Daniel for revealing the dream to him. He also honored the God of Daniel. “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” The King had sat patiently listening to Daniel reveal the full meaning of his dream. He must have been in awe as he heard the depth of the interpretation and it must have overwhelmed him, as he fell down before Daniel and worshiped him. For he knew that Daniel was a man that knew the secrets of the gods.
Yet as King Nebuchadnezzar worshipped Daniel, as he could see that the God of Daniel was greater than all the gods the he worshiped still he did not forsake the other gods. As soon after he would slip back into the house of Marduk and sought not Daniel again until he had more secrets to be revealed by Daniel’s God.
King Nebuchadnezzar honored the promises of rewards that he had made. He gave Daniel a position of great authority in the land of Babylon. Daniel asked the king to also appoint Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego powers in the affairs of Babylon as well. The King wanted Daniel within arm’s reach in case he needed his wisdom form his God. Daniel became in charge of all the wise men of Babylon and they were thankful for what he had done to spare their lives.