Daniel 2
Nebuchadnezzar's Dream of the Image

King Nebuchadnezzar's request 1
His anger at the failure of the wise men 8
Daniel offers to help 14
Prayer with friends 17
The secret revealed 19
Daniel brought before the king 24
Daniel clarifies that God reveals secrets 27
The dream 31
The interpretation 37
Promotion of Daniel and friends 46
The drama of this chapter is exciting. Before studying individual verses as we do below, you may wish to prayerfully read the whole chapter in your Bible or here, grasping each scene. Note that Daniel goes over the dream twice, beginning first in verse 31 with the dream, then in verse 36 with the interpretation.
 
Text Comments
.1 ¶ And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
.2  Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
 3  And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
.4  Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
.5  The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
 6  But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
 7  They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.
   2 - Magicians, astrologers, and ... Listen to Isaiah, is4712ff. The occult is more popular than ever and it comes in all sorts of packages. A news commentary I saw discussed a movie that plays on a theme of the Church of Scientology. The Masonic Order as been active for a long time. Government leaders consult spirit mediums; and children are growing up with The Lion King, pokèmon, and Harry Potter. See Note on v2.
   4 - Syriack That is, Aramaic. The original text switches to Aramaic at this point, Note on v4.
   5 - Cut in pieces At first this sounds harsh even in a society where kings freely used the death penalty. Then we realize that the "wise" people Nebuchadnezzar called were agents of the deities from whom they received their so-called wisdom. If the gods knew the interpretation, surely they would have known the dream, too. Not only were the agents in trouble here; so were their gods!
.8  The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
 9  But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.
.10  The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
 11  And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
12  For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
 13  And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
   10 - No man They were right. In verse 11 they add that no one but the gods who do not dwell with man could do what the king requested.
    Here is our promise: ". . . for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men." (2 Chron. 6:30). We may pray silently and God hears but Satan cannot. Sadly we tend, by our words and actions, to give him plenty of information for knowing how to tempt us.
   12 - Destroy all the wise men In verse 13 we see that Daniel and his friends were among those who were to die.
.14 ¶ Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
 15  He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.
 16  Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
   14 - With counsel and wisdom Daniel's way is a good example for us. He spoke tactfully, He appealed to the government authority, and he called for the prayers of his fellow believers. From the story of his being cast into the den of lions da06 we can be sure he prayed, too.
   16 - Give him time Without the guidance of the Lord this would have been very risky v8.
.17  Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
 18  That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
   18 - Desire mercies A time for earnest prayer.
.19  Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
 20  Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
.21  And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
 22  He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
 23  I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter. 
   19 - Revealed to Daniel In chapter 1 we saw that the faithful young men were given wisdom and understanding da0117. This means that, although God gives us all understanding, only a selected few are prophets. Daniel was shown the dream. His friends learned about it from him v23.
   21 - He Emphatic in the Aramaic. "It is he who" NASB.
   21 - Changeth ... removeth This verse is a foundational principle for the king's dream. God establishes and removes political powers and it is on his schedule, not theirs. We will see the human attempt to change times in connection with da0725. See the note on the "divine right of kings."
   21 - Times Or "occasions" or "situations." Compare jb2401.
   22 - Revealeth ... secret am0307.
.24 ¶ Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.
 25  Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
.26  The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
  25 - Found a man ... interpretation This recalls the story of another Bible hero. It's from Genesis. Read it in chapter 41 then return here ge4101-18.


I'll let you figure out the lessons emphasized in the parallels.
Why did God give the two dreams? (beyond simply telling the future).
Why didn't God just reveal the meanings of the dreams directly to the monarchs?
What made Joseph and Daniel reliable messengers? Consider this principle for evaluating modern spiritual leaders.
Why else did He choose them?
.27  Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
 28  But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
 29  As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
.30  But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
   28 - God in heaven This would have been part of God's reason for the dream.
   30 - For their sakes ... king "Their" is a supplied word. The Septuagint reads "for the sake of making know the interpretation to the king. . . ."
   30 - Heart His heart was proud as we learn in chapters 3 and 4 da0301. We learn specifically about his heart in da0416.
.31 ¶ Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
.32  This image's head was of fine [pure] gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
 33  His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
   33 -Sawest and behold We can be sure that Daniel had the king's full attention as the dream came back to his mind.
.34  Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
.35  Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
   34 - Stone The stone conquerors the image that is, the kingdoms of this world. What is the stone? See note for this verse.
  35 - Gold ... became like Notice the contrast.
  35 - Chaff Other metaphors could have been used to represent the complete destruction and disappearance of the kingdoms of earth. Chaff is the hulls or covering of the grain kernels. In the ancient thrashing process the grain was rubbed to remove the hulls then, with a sort of tray, tossed into the air. The wind would carry away the lighter exterior leaving the grain to fall back into the tray. We can learn from the source of this imagery in Isaiah is4118. Also ru0302, is5713.
   34, 35 For an interpretation of the events pictured in these two verses, see the table below.
The sequence of events for verses 34 and 35
Text Terms Events
34  Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Stone cut out Christ's work of selection / preadvent judgment (Dan. 7) re1415, cf. mountain in is1109.
Strikes image Work of Christ and angels at second coming. re1417
At the feet The time of earth's final generation.
Breaks up iron End time religio-political system brought to its end re1920.
and clay Wicked killed re1921.
 35  Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. All image parts broken Wicked of all time judged during 1000 yrs. by stone re2004
Blown away Devoured by fire punished re2009b
No place After punishment, wicked cease to exist ob16.
Stone fills earth The saints possess the kingdom after their 1000 yrs. in heaven, da0727.
See the table of Daniel time lines
 36  This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
.37  Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
 38  And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
   37 - King ... kingdom The king and his kingdom are essentially synonyms here.
    The second kingdom would be "inferior." The value of the metals is in descending order from gold to iron and clay. So what does this say about the present kingdoms of our planet? Isaiah agrees is5106.
   37 - God ... hath given thee The God of heaven gave Nebuchadnezzar his place. Just as certainly, God has a work and place for each of us. The king's responsibility is also described at 0410ff.
.39  And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
 40  And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
   39 - Another This would be Medo-Persia. See da0820 in context. third: Greece in the next verse of chapter 8.
   39 - Rule over all the earth China was likely known at that time yet not part of the kingdom. Rulers tended to see the "earth" as what was within their reach. Cyrus and Xeres each considered themselves king of the earth. For Bible prophecy, the kingdoms of the image are the significant ones because the conflict between good and evil involving God's people occurred in them.
   40 - Iron Representing Rome which followed Greece in history.
   40 - Breaketh ... subdueth Compared to preceding kingdoms, Rome was more brutal and allowed for less freedom of subjugated countries.
 41  And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
.42  And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken [or "brittle"].
 43  And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
   41 - Feet and toes ... clay and iron At the breakup of imperial Rome, the pieces remained
   41 - Miry clay The two words more closely mean clay pottery or broken clay pottery.
   42 - Part of iron The iron was a continuation of the civil government of the legs. Rome, at the end of its imperial power transformed into papal Rome in collaboration with the various kingdoms of Europe a church and state union.
   43 - Not cleave That is, not stick together. The nations don't cooperate. See on da1106.
See discussion of verses 41-43 above by Ray McAllister who has memorized the book of Daniel in Hebrew and in and Aramaic .He is totally blind. He has also analyzed the relationship with this passage to the potter's clay in Genesis 2:7.
.44  And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
   These kings Notice first the preceding two verses. The kings are generally seen as the kingdoms of the broken Roman Empire. But because the vision takes us to a final resolution, we may see an extended meaning of the "kings" to include all the nations of earth who fill the role of the feet and toes at the time the stone is cut out a process I see as now going on.
   These kings ... a kingdom This is the "kingdom of heaven" which Jesus often spoke of mt2501. How is it set up? It is composed of those who have chosen to be citizens of heaven. Here in Daniel it is the kingdom determined by the judgment when the Son of Man is brought near before the Ancient of Days da0713, and is given the kingdom da0714.
   In the days of these kings ... set up a kingdom It happens while the nations that don't get along with each other are in power. That is now. The kingdom is set up its citizens and its king identified before it begins operation. The establishment of this kingdom is explained in the note for this verse.
.45  Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.    Stone v34.
   Out of the mountain Cut out to make a new mountain that would fill the earth. Mount Zion, the place of Jerusalem, is the source of this symbol. In the new earth, holiness will be universal. Compare is1109.
   Dream is certain ... true This reminds us of a similar statements at re1909.
.46 ¶ Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.
 47  The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
.48  Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
.49  Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
   46 - Worshipped Daniel When the king asked Daniel if he could interpret the dream, the prophet clarified that the God of heaven could v26. His accepting worship here seems a bit strange. Instead of "worshipped Daniel," the NIV has "paid him honor." Bowing before important people was common. Of course this is the action of the king. The king's praise in the next verse is directed to Daniel's God.
   48 - Made Daniel great Here Daniel got a promotion. Notice the last sentence in verse 49. "Daniel sat in the gate of the king." The gate was the place of judgment. If I had lived then and got into trouble or was wrongly treated, it would have been a comfort to know that I had a just judge.

Notes


Spiritualism -v1
    The drama opens our understanding to how Satan works to deceive people. He and his evil angels see and hear what we do in supposed secret just as do the good angels. To turn hearts away from God, spirit mediums pretend to present people who have died. The evil angel who impersonates a deceased loved one had silently witnessed things that only the visitor and the loved one would have known about. Those who do not understand what happens to people who die r01g and who discount the power of the evil one, are open to deception. Following their feelings instead of the words of Scripture, they turn away from truth and salvation. This, often while believing that they have been saved.

The Chaldeans answered in Syriack, v4.
    In modern translations the language is called "Aramaic." The manuscript language switches at this point from Hebrew to Aramaic and continues through the end of Chapter 7. The two languages are similar. Various reasons for the switch have been suggested. The best is that the author simply had a break in writing and continued the next block in the other language. My own suggestion is that the viewpoint of the conflict and prophecy here through chapter 7 is from the time of Nebuchadnezzar and colleagues. The image which we will soon see began with Nebuchadnezzar as the head of gold. The stories which follow are from that era, and the four beasts of chapter 7 also begin with Babylon. In chapter 8 (where the Hebrew is resumed) the historical setting is Medo-Persia. Then the official language would have been Persian. The Hebrews might even have shared copies of this first part of Daniel's writing with their pagan neighbors.
    Why would the Chaldeans switch to Aramaic? Babylon was multi-ethnic. Aramaic was the mother tongue of the Chaldeans and the king. The official language was likely Babylonian. Maybe they were hoping to calm him. Illustration of Daniel telling about the image © Justin Creative Group. Used by permission.

Confirmation
    This change of language does not mean a new author. The Daniel portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls agrees with the switch of languages in two separate manuscripts.


Divine right of kings - v21
    A theory called "the divine right of kings" was authored by Jacques-Benigne Bossuet (1627-1704) although the basic idea was not new. In Europe it tended to support the idea of monarchies which, in collaboration with the church and the big land owners, left many in deep poverty. Our verse here might give credence to the idea. Part of the theory, however, is that the king was responsible to no one but God. This ignores the fact that God often allows what He does not approve da0101, re1305a. On the theory see http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/GLOSSARY/DIVRIGHT.HTM.

What or who is the stone which is cut out? - v34
    We immediately want to know what the stone represents and what it is cut out of. Let's begin with our first question. Read lu2017f. Here Jesus was talking about Himself.
    Is Christ the stone Daniel spoke of? Was it cut out without hand (not by humans)? Yes, Neither Christ's first coming as a baby nor His second coming in glory are of human resources. We will soon learn that the parts of the image represent kingdoms beginning with Babylon and carrying on to the second coming of Christ. With that in mind, could Christ as the stone grind up all the kingdoms? Yes. We continue to read in verse 35 v35. At the second coming of Christ, will the nations then be completely blown away, not leaving a trace? Here our hypothesis encounters a problem. Your understanding depends on how you view the thousand years (millennium) of Revelation 20. I make the case that Christ comes at the beginning of this time re1911a. At the end of the thousand years Satan again deceives the nations (wicked who have come up in the second resurrection) re2007. This means that they are not completely blown away with "no place found for them." So our identification of the stone as Christ at His second coming is in serious doubt. At the end of verse 35, the stone becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth. Does Christ fill the whole earth? His love and His grace do, but when He took on humanity, He gave up being everywhere at once. This we see in the Gospel stories and we see it confirmed in a promise to His disciples. He would send the Comforter. jn1425.
     "Comforter" translates the Greek word parakletos which literally means "one called to one's side." Notice the comparison in Jesus' statement. He was present with the disciples. After He went to heaven the Father sent the Holy Spirit the one sent to be by our side. The Spirit would fill the earth.
    So, if not Christ, what is cut out, smashes the image, sees it disappear completely, and fills the whole earth? I believe it's His kingdom, the kingdom of heaven which He often spoke of. Let me explain. First, consider the context and the meaning of "mountain." Since the image represents a succession of kingdoms, we may logically expect a kingdom to confront and replace it. This would be the kingdom of Christ or of heaven. In the explanation of the vision which we will soon read, Daniel says, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." (v44).
    "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned." (Rev. 11:15-17)

How does the stone kingdom consume the kingdoms of earth without leaving a trace?
    This is the is the work of the kingdom of Christ during the thousand years. Those taken to heaven live and reign with Him. It is a time of the judgment of the wicked who are all dead at this point re1118ju. At the end of the thousand years, fire comes down and devours Satan and the wicked. It is their second death. They will never be again. If these ideas are new to you, I don't expect you to believe them just because I do. Take a little time to read through the commentary on Revelation 20. If in a hurry, begin with verse 4 re2004. Or put the idea on your "maybe" shelf for later study.

Cut out of the mountain
    Remember we are talking about kingdoms here. The stone kingdom was cut out and became its own mountain. So does this confirm our idea that the original mountain was a kingdom? Yes. See Isaiah Isa. 2:2. Therefore the stone kingdom is cut out of the larger mountain of those who claim a place in the kingdom. The end-time righteous are then sealed.

Can we know what kingdoms followed Babylon to complete the image?
    We do know from chapter 5 that Darius the Mede took over the kingdom after King Belshazzar was slain. When we get to chapter 7 we can easily see that the first kingdom lion with eagle wings is Babylon. Then when we come to chapter 8, two nations are named. The first is Medo-Persia. This would be the second kingdom in the dream of the great image. The next was identified as Greece. From history, we know Rome followed. Divided Rome or the Holy Roman Empire are the feet and toes and exists at the time of the blasphemous horn that grew up among those already on the beast's head. We'll look at all this later.

In the days of these kings - v 44
    The plural here would preclude reference to any one of the four kingdoms.  Also, there is no reason to expect a different antecedent from the one for "they" in the preceding verse.  Here we see the kingdom established during the reign of the feet-and-toes kings, the ones who reign after pagan Rome and before the stone strikes the image to pulverize all earthly kingdoms. Some read the text to mean that the kingdom is established at the end of the reign of the kings. This presents practically the same picture, but the natural reading kingdom established while earthly kings reigned is more accurate.
    To understand the setting up, we need to consider what the "kingdom" is. For that we turn to chapter 7 da0713. The kingdom is established as soon as its true subjects are identified. In chapter 7 we see them presented to Christ. In God's government all the citizens are volunteers. None are forced into submission. It is a kingdom of love. However, we don't just say Jesus Jesus and sign our name in the book. This is because many who claim to be Christians are not totally committed. "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jer. 29:13). Many are called, but few are chosen. (Matt. 20:16; 22:14). Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21). So before the citizens are presented to Christ, there is a time of identification a time of judgment. God knows who are His, of course, but the angels do not know for sure. Thus the records are examined before Jesus comes with His reward (Rev. 22:12). In Jesus' story of the wedding of the king's son, the guests are examined and the unfaithful are cast out re1007b. (You might want to look at the whole page).
    What this means is that the preadvent judgment is pictured by the process of the kingdom being established while the feet-and-toes kings reign. When the judgment is finished the reign of the kings will end re1712-14. For further study see re0610f.

The king learned an important lesson. The next two chapters will reveal how well he would remember it.
 

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