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------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Book of Daniel------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chapter 4


570 BC The King’s Proclamation

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.


-The salutation is actually a benediction. The king begins this account of a terrible seven-year period of insanity by giving glory to God. He begins after the fact, showing that all was unnecessary and was brought about by his pride and stubbornness before God. He now recognizes that and begins the chapter by praising The Lord, which shows repentance on his part. The phrase “…in all the earth;…” must be understood as all the earth under Nebuchadnezzar, not elsewhere.


2 I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.


3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.


-“…the signs and wonders that the high God has wrought toward me.” is all because of Daniel and the three Hebrew children. How fortunate was this king to have such in his empire, and above that, that he had the foresight to recognize it and ultimately to be blessed.


Nebuchadnezzar’s Vision of a Tree

4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:


5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.


-Now, the king will begin to give his account of what happened to him, which brought him to the place evidenced in verses 1 through 3. It was the 18th year of his reign, which would have been about 15 years after the dream of the image and the interpretation. It was about a year before the capture of Jerusalem, which according to Jeremiah 52:12, happened in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar. Therefore, he burned Jerusalem almost immediately before his insanity.


6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.


7 Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.


-Quite possibly, they gave him some type of interpretation, which he knew in his spirit was wrong. Therefore, he sent for Daniel.


8 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,


-“…whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god,…” reflects him still leaning toward these false Babylonian deities. The great miracle he had seen years before regarding the revelation of the dream and the interpretation and the recent miracle of the fiery furnace was tremendously impressive and gave the king serious pause, but they did not involve him personally, at least in a negative way. Consequently, they did not bring him to surrender. The phrase “…and in whom is the spirit of holy gods:…” portrays him putting the God of Daniel in a superior position but still clinging to the old gods.


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.


-The manner in which Nebuchadnezzar referred to Daniel did not mean that he was part of the magicians, etc., but rather, that he was recognized as having more wisdom than all the so-called wise men of the Babylonian empire.


10 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.


-Actually, the Assyrians, whom the Babylonians had defeated, had a sacred tree, the symbol of life which was perpetually introduced into the sculptures of Nineveh and seen also in some Babylonian cylinders, especially in connection with the royal acts of worship.


11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:


12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.


-As this tree is symbolic of the Babylonian empire, it’s description is apt. From the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, it stretched from the cataracts of the Nile into Asia Minor.


13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a Watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;


-The word “Watcher” occurs only in this chapter in the Bible. However, it is used a score of times in the book of Enoch, which was supposed to have been written about 130 BC. That book is not included in the Canon of Scripture.


14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:


-The “Watcher” gives instructions as to what is to be done with the tree.


15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:


-The tree is not to be destroyed but only cut down. It will, therefore, sprout again. Actually, the “...band of iron and brass,…” symbolizes the mental darkness Nebuchadnezzar will be under with him bound, at least to some extent, with fetters.


16 Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.


-The verse leaves absolutely no doubt that The Holy Spirit is speaking here of a man. "seven times” represents seven years.


17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.


-In other words, in one way or another, God controls all.


18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.


-This would be totally unlike the dream of years before when Daniel explained to him you are this head of gold (Chapter 2 verse 38). Now this head of gold will be reduced to a stump.


Daniel Interprets the King’s Dream

19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.


-When Daniel heard the king’s dream, the interpretation which the Lord gave him terrified him even so much that his countenance was changed.


20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;


21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:


22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.


-These statements proclaim the fact that the monarch’s dominion was vast, but it had been given to him by The Lord. This, he did not recognize, and hence, the judgment that came upon him.


23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him;


-“…Hew the tree down and destroy it;…” refers to Nebuchadnezzar being cut down from his place and position of authority by the reason of his insanity. “…yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth,…” refers to this life being spared with a restoration intended for the future. The phrase “…and let it be wet with the dew of heaven,…” refers to the type of insanity which caused him to seek habitation in the open as an animal. Some think his form of insanity was a disease known as “lycanthropy” in which a man imagines himself to be some form of animal.


24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:


-“…the most High,…” is an appellative, denoting supremacy of supremacy. This is the One Who had the final say. This is the One Who everyone will answer to ultimately.


25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.


-Despite all that Nebuchadnezzar had seen, still his pride and ego were the culprits of his rebellion against God. He considered himself to be the master of his own fate and the ruler of his own kingdom. He would not recognize that he had been placed in this position by “the Most High” but gave himself credit making him a god. However, The Lord loved him enough to resort to drastic measures in order to bring him to his senses.


26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.


-Once again, The Holy Spirit repeats the cause and reason for this act of God. “…after that you shalt have known that the heavens do rule.”


Advice Given to the King, The Advice Rejected

27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.


-An offer of repentance is extended, which, if accepted, will negate this judgment. Regrettably, it was not accepted.


28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.


-It came upon him because he rejected the Word of The Lord. He was given 12 months respite in order that he may repent but to no avail. How patient is The Lord!


29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.


-“…he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.” denotes a prideful attitude filled with pomp, majesty, a sense of wellbeing, and in his case, the master of the world, or so he thought. He was his own man, captain of his own fate, and therefore subservient to none. Was not this “palace” in the city itself proof of such?


30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?


-He now gives his answer to the appeal of The Holy Spirit. It will be a pompous answer, as is most of the world. To be sure, as he was called to account, all will ultimately be called to account.


The Dream Fulfilled

31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.


-“…the kingdom is departed from thee.” Is a stupefying statement indeed. All in which he claimed for his own and made by his own hand, instead would be proved otherwise. It could be said concerning the Bible and all its warnings and pleadings to the whole of humanity, “…to thee it is spoken;…”


32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.


-The actual stipulation of the judgment is repeated here almost identically with the original verdict of verse 25. No doubt, because the king, during the 12-month period of respite, had discounted this dire prediction thinking that such a strange thing could never come to pass.


33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.


-“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar:…”means that his mind snapped almost immediately after the voice was heard from heaven.


Nebuchadnezzar Restored, Praises God

34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:


-Exactly as The Holy Spirit, through Daniel, had stated, upon the completion of the “seven years” his sanity returned as quickly as it has left. The phrase, “…I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven…”signifies that upon his return to sanity, he repented and gave glory to God.


35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?


-“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing:…” has reference to Nebuchadnezzar and all who would think their place and position signifies their importance. The idea is, no man has ever reigned quite as Nebuchadnezzar. Consequently, no man has ever been brought lower than Nebuchadnezzar, portraying the supremacy of Jehovah. Oh, but for humility!


36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.


-As the kingdom was taken away, it is now returned. Actually, one of the functions of The Holy Spirit is restoration. Hallelujah!


37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.


-The verse begins with the word “Now” after he has been humbled, chastened, and restored. Before his insanity, he did not “…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven,…” at all. “Now” that is all he does.