Daniel 2:1-49

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In the “second year” of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar “dreamed dreams” (“dreamed a dream” [Theodotion]; “happened to fall into visions and dreams” [LXX]). Like the extant Hebrew text, the version of Theodotion refers to the “second year.” Josephus understood this “second year” to be the second year after Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Egypt. (Antiquities, X, x, 3) The oldest extant manuscript of the Septuagint (P967), however, says that it was the “twelfth year.” There is no way to confirm whether the interpretation of Josephus is correct or whether the text should read “twelfth year” instead of “second year.” (2:1)

What Nebuchadnezzar dreamed caused his “spirit” to be “disturbed” or, according to the version of Theodotion, to be “confounded” or driven out of its senses. The Septuagint indicates that his dream “disturbed” him or stirred him up, and “his sleep went away [literally, came to be (Hebrew, was) from him.” He appears to have been left with a very troubling sensation within himself after being startled out of his sleep, and his agitated state prevented him from going back to sleep. (2:1)

Nebuchadnezzar gave the command to summon the soothsayers (enchanters [LXX]), conjurers (magi or astrologers [LXX]), sorcerers, and Chaldeans so that they would make known to him his dreams and their significance. In this context, the designation “Chaldeans” refers to a distinct group among the Chaldeans or Babylonians generally. They were men trained in divination and astrology. All those called to appear before the king were experts in the occult arts. In response to the royal summons, they came and stood before the king. (2:2; see 1:20 regarding the word rendered “conjurers.”)

Nebuchadnezzar told the summoned ones that he had “dreamed a dream” that had “disturbed” (“shaken” [LXX]; “confounded” [Theodotion]) his “spirit”or had left him in a troubled state. Therefore, he wanted “to know the dream,” both what he had dreamed and the meaning thereof. (2:3)

In response, the Chaldeans said to the king “in Aramaic” (Syrian [LXX]), “O king, live forever. Tell the dream to your servants, and we will reveal the interpretation.” According to the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967), the Chaldeans also addressed the king as “lord.” As the opening words when beginning to address a monarch, the words, “O king, live forever,” constituted the customary formal way to wish the monarch a long life. The words of the Chaldeans indicated that they could only provide an interpretation of the dream if Nebuchadezzar first related to them what he had seen. (2:4)

At this point in the narrative, the language changes from Hebrew to Aramaic, the international language of the time. The language of the speakers was Aramaic, and so the words that follow are written in that language. Possibly Aramaic continues to be the language used until the end of verse 28 of chapter 7 because much of the narrative includes interchanges with persons who did not speak Hebrew. The exception is chapter 7, where the only one conversing with Daniel is an angel who could have spoken to him either in Aramaic or in Hebrew. If the ancient Greek manuscript P967 reflects an older arrangement of the Aramaic text, this may explain why chapter 7 is in Aramaic, for the words of chapter 7 in this manuscript are found at the end of chapter 4. (2:4)

Nebuchadnezzar’s response to the Chaldeans, men versed in occult arts, was that his “word,” or what he had determined, remained “sure,” final, or unchangeable. If they did not make known to him the dream and its interpretation, he would have them dismembered (“made limbs” or “pieces” [“destroyed” (Theodotion)]), and their houses would be turned into a “refuse heap” (“plundered” [Theodotion]). The Septuagint rendering indicates that they would be made an example by the punishment meted out to them and that their possessions would be confiscated. (2:5)

If those whom Nebuchadnezzar had summoned disclosed to him the “dream and its interpretation,” they would receive “gifts [gifts of all kinds (LXX)] and a reward and great honor” from him. “Therefore,” he continued to say to them, “show me the dream and its interpretation.” The first-century Jewish historian Josephus understood Nebuchadnezzar’s words to mean that he had forgotten the dream. (Antiquities, X, x, 3) Possibly, in his troubled state about it, Nebuchadnezzar only had a vague recollection about the dream and, therefore, insisted that he have it related to him, believing that he would then be able to recall what he had dreamed. (2:6)

For a second time, the experts in occult arts said to Nebuchadnezzar, “Tell [your] servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” Their repeated response made it unmistakably clear that they would be unable to tell him what he had dreamed. Their ability to interpret depended upon knowing what he had seen in his dream. (2:7)

Nebuchadnezzar concluded that those whom he had summoned were stalling for time. He responded with the words, “I know that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me [is] sure,” unchangeable, or final. According to Rahlfs’ printed text, the Greek rendering is, “In truth, I know that you are trying to gain time, just as you have seen that the matter has escaped me. Therefore, just as I have resolved, so it will be.” (2:8)

“If you do not make known to me the dream,” Nebuchadnezzar threatened those whom he had summoned, there is “one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak before me a lying and corrupt word until the time changes,” or the situation becomes more favorable for you. “Therefore, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can show me its interpretation.” The monarch recognized that their interpretation would be the right one if they could tell him what he had dreamed. Although the Greek version of Theodotion reads much like the Hebrew text, the Septuagint rendering is somewhat different. It represents Nebuchadnezzar as saying that “death” would befall those summoned if they did not truthfully tell him the dream and disclose its significance. (2:9)

The “Chaldeans,” the experts in occult arts, told the king that there was “not a man on earth” who could meet his demand and that “no great and powerful king” (or “no great king and powerful one,” ruler, or official) had ever asked any “magician and enchanter and Chaldean such a thing.” According to the Septuagint, no one on earth could tell the king what he had seen just as Nebuchadnezzar had requested. (2:10)

Those skilled in occult arts acknowledged that what the king asked was “difficult” (“and glorious” [LXX]) and that there was no one who could “show” or reveal it to the king “except gods [angels (P967); an angel (LXX)],” and their dwelling was “not with flesh” or with mortals on earth. The Septuagint then adds, “Therefore, it is not possible for it to happen just as you think.” (2:11)

On account of what was said to him, Nebuchadnezzar became “angry and very wrathful.” He then commanded that all the “wise men [sophists (P967)] of Babylon” be destroyed. The Greek text of Theodotion basically reads like the extant Hebrew text. In the Septuagint, however, Nebuchadnezzar is described as becoming “sullen” or “gloomy (stygnós [LXX]; sýnnous [P967]) and “very sad” and as giving the command to “lead away all the wise men of Babylon.” (2:12)

In his rage, Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree for all the wise men to be slain. Although Daniel and his companions had not been among those whom he had summoned, they were included among those destined to be killed, for they were considered to be “wise men.” (2:13)

It appears that Daniel, upon learning about the decree, “returned” or approached “Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard” (“chief cook” [LXX and Theodotion]), who had gone out to slay the wise men (“sophists” [LXX]) of Babylon. He made his approach to the Babylonian official with “counsel” or careful prior thought, and “understanding” or discretion. The first-century Jewish historian Josephus, in his narration of events, specifically identified Daniel as having taken the initiative to approach Arioch. “Now when Daniel heard that the king had given a command that all the wise men should be put to death, and that among them he and his three kinsmen were in danger, he went to Arioch, who was captain of the king’s guards, and desired to know from him” why the king had commanded that all the wise men, Chaldeans, and magicians be slain. (Antiquities, X, x, 3) (2:14)

Daniel asked “Arioch, the captain of the king” (a “leader” or “official of the king” [Theodotion]) why a decree of such harshness had gone out “from before the king.” Thereupon Arioch “made known” or explained the matter to Daniel. (2:15)

The account represents Daniel as going (“quickly” [LXX]) to Nebuchadnezzar, petitioning him for time to be allotted to him so that he might declare the interpretation of the dream to him. Daniel’s action revealed that he had faith in his God YHWH as the one who could reveal to him both Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its meaning. It is possible that Daniel, though represented as going to Nebuchadnezzar, actually did so through the agency of Arioch. This is the way in which the first-century historian Josephus narrated the events. Daniel wanted Arioch “to go in to the king” and to have him request “respite for the magicians for one night, and to put off the slaughter so long, for he hoped within that time to obtain, by prayer to God, the knowledge of the dream. Accordingly, Arioch informed the king of what Daniel desired; so the king bid them delay the slaughter of the magicians till he knew what Daniel’s promise would come to.” (Antiquities, X, x, 3) (2:16)

“Daniel went to his house.” Then “he made known the matter” regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to “Hananiah [Hananias (LXX])], Mishael [Misael (LXX)] and Azariah [Azarias (LXX)], his companions [friends or beloved ones (Theodotion).” According to the Septuagint rendering, he “showed” his companions “everything.” This suggests that he provided them with a detailed report of the developments pertaining to the dream Nebuchadnezzar had. (2:17)

Daniel asked his companions to “seek mercy from the God of heaven about this mystery” concerning Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The “mercy” related to God’s revealing the dream. For Daniel it meant that he and his companions would not perish “with the rest of the wise men [sophists (LXX)] of Babylon.” According to the Septuagint, unlike the version of Theodotion that reflects the reading of the extant Hebrew text, Daniel called for a “fast and supplication” and for “help to be sought from the Lord the Most High about this mystery.” (2:18)

In a night vision, the mystery regarding the dream was revealed to Daniel. Gratefully, he “blessed” or praised the “God of heaven” (“the Lord the Most High” [LXX]). The version of Theodotion reads like the extant Hebrew text, but the Septuagint identifies the “mystery” or “secret” as being the “mystery of the king.” Additionally, the Septuagint indicates that this secret was “clearly disclosed” or “brought to light.” (2:19)

In prayer, Daniel said, “The name of God be blessed forever and ever [for limitless time to limitless time], for wisdom and might [are his (Theodotion and LXX)].” The “name of God” refers to God, the one represented by the name. In Rahlfs’ printed Greek text, the reading is, “The name of the Lord, the Great One, will be blessed forever [literally, into the age].” God is the ultimate source of wisdom and, therefore, his might will always be guided thereby. Might could also include the full capacity to act with wisdom and to perceive what is concealed from those who lack wisdom. (2:20; see the Notes section.)

All things take place either by God’s permission or his will and purpose. His changing “times and seasons” may relate to his causing or allowing circumstances to change, altering what takes place at a particular time and season. He removes kings, doing so directly or permitting them to lose their position. In the past, this happened through military conquests, plots, or revolts. God “sets up kings.” He did so by making it possible for, or permitting, other men to reign in the place of those who were removed from their position. As the source of wisdom, he gives “wisdom [the capacity to use knowledge to a successful end] to the wise, and knowledge to those having [literally, knowing] understanding.” Those with “understanding” or discernment are persons who benefit from knowledge, for they recognize its value and use it for beneficial purposes. (2:21)

God “reveals the deep things and the hidden things.” By means of his spirit, he makes known to humans matters that they would be unable to fathom on their own and things that are concealed to their understanding. God “knows what [is] in the darkness.” Though darkness hides things from human view, it does not conceal anything from him. He knows what takes place in the dark. “Light dwells with him.” Everything about him and to him is light, with not a trace of the darkness that is associated with error and ignorance. According to the Septuagint reading, God knows “the things in the darkness and the things in the light,” indicating that absolutely nothing is hidden to him. (2:22; see the Notes section.)

Daniel concluded his prayer with the words, “To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for wisdom and might [insight (LXX)] you have given me. And now you have made known to me what we asked of you, for the matter of the king you have made known to us.” For the wisdom and strength he possessed, Daniel gave all credit to his God, the God whom his ancestors worshiped. He and his companions had prayed to God regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation, and Daniel acknowledged that what all four of them had asked for had been granted to him. The “matter of the king” respecting the dream had been disclosed to them. What had been revealed to him, Daniel shared with his companions. (2:23; see the Notes section.)

After having the dream and its interpretation divinely revealed to him, Daniel went to Arioch, the man whom Nebuchadnezzar had put in charge of destroying the “wise men [sophists (LXX)] of Babylon.” Daniel then told Arioch not to slay the wise men (sophists [LXX]) of Babylon and to take him before the king, as he would then make known the interpretation of the dream to him. The Septuagint indicates that Daniel would disclose all the “details” or specifics to Nebuchadnezzar. (2:24; see the Notes section.)

“In haste,” Arioch then “brought Daniel in before the king,” saying to him, “I have found a [wise (LXX)] man among the exiles of Judah [literally, sons of the exile of Judah; sons of the captivity of Judea (Theodotion); the captivity of the sons of Judea (LXX)] who can make known the interpretation to the king.” It may be noted that Arioch presented himself in the best light before Nebuchadnezzar when saying that he had found a man who could interpret the dream. (2:25; see the Notes section.)

Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel whose name had been changed to Belteshazzar (Baltasar [LXX and Theodotion]), “Are you able to make known to me the dream I have seen and its interpretation?” (2:26; see the comments on 1:7 regarding the meaning of Belteshazzar.)

“Daniel answered the king,” saying, The “mystery that the king has asked no wise men, enchanters,magicians, [or] astrologers [Gazarenes (a transliteration of the Aramaic word in LXX)] can show to the king.” With these words Daniel made it clear that no one skilled in the occult arts could make known the dream and its interpretation, leaving Nebuchadnezzar to conclude that no human could do so. (2:27; see the Notes section.)

Focusing attention away from himself, Daniel directed Nebuchadnezzar to the One who can reveal mysteries — “God [Lord (LXX)] in heaven.” “And he,” Daniel continued, “has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the later [part] of the days. Your dream and the visions of your head” while in bed are “these” (as Daniel then went on to explain). Accordingly, what Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream related to a future time, including a distant future time. (2:28; see the Notes section.)

It appears that Nebuchadnezzar, while in bed, thought about what would take place respecting rulership after his time. Then he fell asleep, and God, by means of a dream, “made known” to him “mysteries” about “what is to be.” The Greek version of Theodotion expresses the same thought. In the Septuagint, however, the wording is somewhat different. While Nebuchadnezzar was reclining on his bed, he “saw everything that must occur at the final parts of the days” or at the end of the days, “and the one revealing mysteries disclosed” to him “what must occur.” The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not include the opening phrase, “you, O king, having reclined on your bed,” but it starts with the words, “you saw what must occur.” (2:29)

Daniel acknowledged that the “mystery” — Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation — was not revealed to him because he was wiser than anyone else alive. It was revealed to him so that he might make the interpretation known to the king and that the king “might know,” or have the answer to, the “thoughts” of his “heart.” These “thoughts” may refer to his inmost reflections about rulership after his time. (2:30; regarding the Septuagint rendering, see the Notes section.)

In his dream, Daniel said, Nebuchadnezzar saw a huge “image” of exceptional “brightness” standing before him, and its appearance gave rise to fear. Possibly the terrifying aspect of the image stemmed from its overwhelmingly large size, exceeding brightness or splendor, and its overall appearance. The Septuagint, the Greek version of Theodotion, and a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana) do not include a reference to the brightness. They mention the extraordinary “appearance” of the image. (2:31)

The “head of this image” was of “good” or “fine gold”; the “breast and arms of silver,” and the “belly and thighs of bronze” or copper. “Good” or “fine gold” probably refers to pure gold. (2:32)

The “legs” of the image were of “iron,” and the “feet” partly of “iron” and partly of “clay,” terra-cotta, or pottery clay. (2:33)

Nebuchadnezzar continued to look at the image when he saw a “stone” being “cut out” from a mountain (2:45) but not by human “hands.” This stone “struck the image on its feet of iron and clay” and broke them into pieces. Although the extant Hebrew text does not mention a “mountain” in this verse, both the Septuagint and the Greek version of Theodotion do. (2:34)

When the stone struck the image, the iron, clay, bronze or copper, silver, and gold were at once pulverized, becoming “like chaff from summer threshing floors” (“threshing floor” [LXX and a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana)]). In the early days of summer, there would be an abundance of harvested grain to be threshed, producing much chaff. The pulverized clay and all the metal particles became like “chaff” that the wind carried away, and no trace of them could be found or, according to the Septuagint, nothing was “left remaining.” “The stone that struck the image” became a massive “mountain and filled the whole earth.” The Septuagint rendering indicates that the pulverized clay and metals became finer than chaff on a threshing floor. Instead of being described as becoming a mountain that “filled the whole earth,” the stone is portrayed as having “struck the whole earth.” (2:35)

Regarding what he had made known to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel is quoted as saying, “This [was] the dream.” Then he stated his intent to relate “its interpretation before the king.” (2:36; see the Notes section.)

Daniel addressed Nebuchadnezzar, saying to him, “You, O king, the king of kings, you to whom the God [Lord (LXX)] of heaven has given the kingdom, the power and might [honor (LXX)] and glory.” In this manner, Daniel revealed that Nebuchadnezzar exercised royal authority by God’s permission and that the power, might, and “glory,” splendor, or magnificence he possessed as king likewise had been granted to him by divine allowance. According to the Greek version of Theodotion, the “God of heaven” had given Nebuchadnezzar a “strong and mighty and honorable kingdom.” (2:37)

Daniel then described the extensive nature of Nebuchadnezzar’s divinely granted dominion. It included wherever the “sons of men” (literally, man [a collective singular]) or people “dwell” and even the “beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens” or the air. The Septuagint includes the “fishes of the sea.” God is represented as having given everything into “Nebuchadnezzar’s “hand” or power, making him “rule over them all.” Daniel then identified Nebuchadnezzar as the “head of gold” of the image he had seen in his dream. The other materials of the image are later identified as “kingdoms.” Therefore, in the person of its royal representative, the empire of Babylon, which included the monarchs who ruled thereafter, was the “kingdom” portrayed as the “head of gold.” (2:38)

After the kingdom of Babylon, represented by Nebuchadnezzar, another “kingdom” was to arise. Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar that this “kingdom” would be “lower” or “inferior to you.” In Daniel 8:20, the “kings of Media and Persia” are represented by one animal — a bear. To be consistent with this depiction, the kingdom of the Medes and Persians or the empire of Medo-Persia would be represented as one metal — the silver that constituted the breast and arms of the image. The monarchs of Medo-Persia did not have the same absolute authority as did King Nebuchadnezzar, and the kings who occupied the throne after Cyrus experienced serious military reverses. Possibly from that standpoint and other negative developments in the realm, including revolts, the kingdom of Medo-Persia may be regarded as having been inferior. (2:39)

The first-century Jewish historian Josephus narrated the words about the “two hands and arms” of silver part of the image (verses 32 and 39) as meaning that the government of Nebuchadnezzar (the empire of Babylon) would be “dissolved by two kings.” (Antiquities, X, x, 4) He probably understood these two kings to have been Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. (2:39)

The kingdom that was to come next is described as being of “bronze” or “copper” and as ruling “over all the earth,” suggesting a dominion significantly greater than that of the kingdoms of Babylon and Medo-Persia. The first-century Jewish historian Josephus understood the successor to the kings of Media and Persia to be a “king that will come from the west, armed with bronze” or copper. (Antiquities, X, x, 4) The first monarch of the Grecian empire was Alexander the Great who did come from the west and, through successful warring, expanded his empire beyond the territory over which monarchs before his time had reigned. (2:39)

The “fourth kingdom” is described as being “strong like iron,” for like iron it crushes and shatters everything. “And like iron that is pulverizing all these [metals], it [the fourth kingdom] will crush and pulverize [all these kingdoms].” The wording of the Greek version of Theodotion is basically the same, but the Septuagint text refers to “another kingdom” that is “strong like iron which overpowers [saws (according to another Greek text)] everything and cuts down every tree” and indicates that “all the earth will be shaken.” (2:40; see the Notes section.)

In his commentary on Daniel, Jerome (c. 347 to 419 or 420 CE) wrote: “Now the fourth empire, which clearly refers to the Romans, is the iron empire which breaks in pieces and overcomes all others. But its feet and toes are partly of iron and partly of earthenware, a fact most clearly demonstrated at the present time. For just as there was at the first nothing stronger or hardier than the Roman realm, so also in these last days there is nothing more feeble, since we require the assistance of barbarian tribes both in our civil wars and against foreign nations.” (Translation of Gleason Archer) That the fourth kingdom represents the Roman Empire has often been repeated in subsequent centuries. (2:40)

The first-century Jewish historian Josephus appears to have believed that only the development involving the stone had not been fulfilled. (Verses 44 and 45) He wrote, “Daniel did also declare the meaning of the stone to the king; but I do not think proper to relate it, since I have only undertaken to describe things past or things present, but not things that are future.” This comment suggests that he believed Rome to be the power like iron — stronger than gold, silver, and bronze or copper — and would have “dominion over all the earth.” (Antiquities, X, x, 4) Later in his account (Antiquities, X, xi, 7), Josephus stated, “Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them.” (2:40)

There is a possibility that the image, though including Rome, may (from the bronze or copper belly and thighs onward) represent the rulership that had the greatest impact on the Jewish people, particularly in their homeland and starting after the death of Alexander the Great, the king who came from the west. A considerable portion of the book of Daniel deals with developments before the Jews came to be subject to Rome, and the wording of verses 41 through 43 could be understood to reflect historical developments from that time. Especially during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century BCE and then after Rome became the unchallenged power in the region starting in the first century BCE, the Jews experienced the crushing effect of iron-like foreign domination. (2:40)

King Nebuchadnezzar would have been able to see that the “feet and toes” of the image were “partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron.” Daniel explained this to mean that the kingdom would be “divided,” with some of the “firmness of iron in it,” just as the king “saw iron mixed with earthenware.” The Greek version of Theodotion expresses the same thought, but the Septuagint refers to the feet and the toes as “another kingdom,” one that would exist in two parts. (2:41)

After the death of Alexander the Great, his kingdom eventually became divided among four of his generals (Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus). The dynasties that sprang from Seleucus and Ptolemy had the greatest impact on the Jews living in their own land, and these two dynasties (the Seleucid dynasty, which included Syria in its domain, and the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt) engaged in repeated military conflicts. The military defeats and the much smaller areas over which the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kings reigned when compared to the empire under Alexander the Great may be taken as indicating that the “kingdom” came to be weakened as though iron were mixed with clay. As for the Roman empire, it might be described as a divided kingdom in relation to the administration of affairs, with the emperor being the supreme authority and kings and procurators governing by his appointment. Although their oppressive rule may have been like iron with reference to their subjects, the kings and procurators did not have absolute authority. Their power had been weakened as by clay, for serious complaints could be made about them to the emperor who could remove them from their position. (2:41)

The “toes of the feet” were “partly of iron and partly of clay.” Daniel explained this to mean that “the kingdom will be partly strong and will be partly broken.” This may indicate that, in its final stage, the kingdom or ruling power of the world would be in a weakened state. (2:42)

Nebuchadnezzar would have seen that the “iron” was mixed with potter’s clay. Daniel interpreted this to mean that “they will come to be mixed with the seed of man,” but that “they will not hold this one with that one, just as iron does not mix with clay.” The aspect of being “mixed with the seed of man” could refer to the forming of marriage alliances (as indicated in chapter 11). This intermingling through marriage alliances in order to create peace, security, and unity between monarchs or rulers would fail, just as would attempts to form a cohesive whole with a mixture of iron and clay. According to the Septuagint reading, they will not be of one mind nor favorably inclined toward one another. (2:43; see the Notes section.)

Up to this point, the focus has been on a succession of kingdoms, with the last reference being to the “toes” of the image. Even though one empire succeeded another one, governmental systems continued to exist in the regions where mighty empires formerly held sway. In verse 45, the stone is depicted as destroying the entire image consisting of gold, silver, bronze or copper, iron, and a mixture of iron and clay. Therefore, the words “in the days [times [LXX]) of those kings” apply to the time when these rulers or governments would still be exercising sovereignty over the people, but their destruction would take place at the time when what the image portrayed was in its final stage, which was represented by the “toes.” These “toes” may be equated with “those kings” that will meet their end. (2:44)

It is then that the “God of heaven” will establish a “kingdom” (“another kingdom” [LXX]), one that will never be destroyed (“that will be into the ages [will be forever] and not be corrupted” [LXX]; “unto the age” [P967]). This kingdom or sovereignty will not be left to “another people.” It will never be taken over by another ruling power as happened repeatedly in the case of kingdoms or governments that humans set up. Instead, this kingdom will crush all these humanly created kingdoms, bringing them to their end, and it alone will stand for limitless time to come or forever. (2:44)

In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw that a stone was cut “out of a mountain” but not with hands. This indicated that the kingdom represented by the stone was not of human origin and that it would crush the kingdoms of the world, for the stone pulverized the iron, bronze or copper, clay, silver, and gold of the image. By means of the dream, God revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar what was to occur in time to come (literally, “after this”). According to the Septuagint, the “great God had revealed to the king the things that will be at the end [final parts] of the days,” which would include developments in the distant future. Regarding the dream, Daniel declared, “The dream is certain [accurate (LXX)], and its interpretation sure” or trustworthy. (2:45)

Those who became followers of Jesus in the first century CE and in subsequent centuries recognized him to be the promised Anointed One, Messiah, or Christ, the King of kings. Eusebius quoted from Hegesippus who, in the second century CE, wrote about the grandsons of Jude in connection with an incident during Domitian’s reign, “And there still survived of the Lord’s family the grandsons of Jude, who was said to be His brother, humanly speaking. These were informed against as being of David’s line.” The grandsons were devoted disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and reportedly told Domitian that Christ’s kingdom was “not of this world or anywhere on earth but angelic and in heaven.” They also mentioned that it would be established when Christ returned in glory to judge the living and the dead, repaying all according to their conduct. (Ecclesiastical History, III, xx, 1, 2, 6 [translated by G. A. Williamson]) The expressions Hegesippus attributed to the grandsons of Jude, the half brother of Jesus, indicate that they believed the end for the kingdoms of the world would take place when Jesus Christ returned in glory. (2:45)

After hearing Daniel relate the dream and its interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar “fell upon his face” and did homage or obeisance to Daniel or prostrated himself before him. He also commanded that “incense be offered up to him.” According to the Septuagint, Nebuchadnezzar directed that both “sacrifices and libations” were to be made to Daniel. Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, basically repeated these words, adding a few additional comments. After referring to Nebuchadnezzar’s “falling upon his face,” Josephus wrote that the king “hailed” Daniel “in the manner” people “worship,” or prostrate themselves before, God. The monarch “also commanded that they should sacrifice” to Daniel “as to a god.” (Antiquities, X, x, 5) Whereas Josephus apparently did not consider it necessary to comment on why Daniel accepted such honor, commentators throughout the centuries have felt the need to do so or pointed to Nebuchadnezzar’s action as confirming that the account is fictional or mere legend. (2:46)

In his commentary on the book of Daniel, Jerome (c. 347 to 419 or 420 CE) included his thoughts about the recorded incident. “Porphyry falsely impugns this passage on the ground that a very proud king would never worship a mere captive, as if, forsooth, the Lycaonians had not been willing to offer blood sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas on account of the mighty miracles they had wrought. And so there is no need to impute to the Scripture the error of the Gentiles who deem everything above themselves [i.e., superhuman] to be gods, for the Scripture simply is narrating everything as it actually happened. However, we can make this further assertion, that the king himself set forth the reasons for his worship and offering of blood-sacrifices when he said to Daniel: ‘Truly your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to disclose this holy secret.’ And so it was not so much that he was worshiping Daniel as that he was through Daniel worshiping the God who had revealed the holy secrets. This is the same thing that we read Alexander the Great, King of the Macedonians, did in the high priesthood of Joaida [i.e., Jaddua]. Or, if this explanation seem unsatisfactory, we shall have to say that Nebuchadnezzar, overwhelmed by the amazing greatness of the miracles, did not realize what he was doing, but coming to know the true God and Lord of kings he both worshiped His servant and offered him incense.” (Based on the English translation of Gleason Archer) (2:46)

It may be noted that Daniel was the servant of an absolute monarch whose word was law. As a servant or subject, he was in no position to tell Nebuchadnezzar what honors he could or could not bestow. (2:46)

To Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged, “Your God [is] God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” The Septuagint rendering includes the thought that the “God of gods and Lord of kings” alone brings “hidden mysteries” to light. (2:47)

As a result of what Daniel had done in disclosing the dream and its interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar highly exalted him, making him “great,” gave him many impressive presents, constituted him “ruler over the whole district of Babylon and chief prefect [ruler and leader (LXX); ruler of satraps (Theodotion)] over all the wise men [sophists (LXX)] of Babylon.” (2:48)

As one elevated to high station, Daniel asked Nebuchadnezzar that his companions Shadrach (Sedrach [LXX and Theodotion], Meshach (Misach [LXX and Theodotion], and Abednego (Abdenago [LXX and Theodotion]) be appointed over the affairs of the district of Babylon (affairs of the kingdom of Babylon [P967]; works of the territory of Babylon [Theodotion]). As for Daniel, he remained in the “court of the king.” (2:49)


In verse 20, the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) reads, “the name of the Lord, the great God.” This rendering has the support of a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana), which contains the words “the name of the great God.”

According to a literal reading of the Aramaic text, verse 20 concludes with the words, “for wisdom and might — to him [they belong].” There is no verb, but the the Septuagint and the Greek version of Theodotion include the words “are his.” The Septuagint does not have a corresponding word for “might” but reads “majesty” (“wisdom and majesty are his”). While fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus reads “might” (ischýs), Rahlfs’ printed Greek text says “understanding” (sýnesis) for the version of Theodotion.

In verse 22, a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana) says, with reference to God, “and he knows.” While this is the reading of certain extant Septuagint manuscripts, the oldest extant Greek text (P967), like the Masoretic Text, does not include the conjunction “and.” The Septuagint (including P967) adds a phrase that could be rendered, “with him [is] a habitation.” This could signify that there is a habitation or dwelling of light with God.

A Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana), in verse 23, starts with the words, “To you, to the God of my fathers.” The oldest extant Greek text (P967) reads “Lord God of my fathers.”

The Greek version of verse 23 in the text of Theodotion, like the Masoretic Text, includes Daniel’s companions in his receiving what all four had made the subject of their prayer. The Septuagint (including P967), however, only refers to Daniel as the one having been shown the matter for which he petitioned.

Josephus (Antiquities, X, x, 3) specifically refers to Daniel as informing his companions about what God had revealed to him. “When Daniel had obtained this knowledge from God, he arose very joyful, and told it to his brothers [Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah], and made them glad,” filling them with hope that their lives would be preserved. Before this, “they despaired of their lives, and their minds were fully preoccupied with “the thoughts of dying.”

Although Daniel would not have been in agreement with the “wise men” of Babylon because of their practicing occult arts, he considered them as fellow humans whose lives were valuable. As verse 24 indicates, he asked that their lives be preserved.

A Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana), in verse 25, reads “Judeans” instead of “Judah.”

In verse 27, the oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not include the words, “the mystery.”

Josephus (Antiquities, X, x, 4) presents an expanded version of thoughts included in verse 27 through verse 30. Daniel is represented as telling Nebuchadnezzar that “he did not pretend to be wiser than the other Chaldeans and magicians” who were unable to “discover his dream” and that his informing him about it “was not by his own skill, or on account of his having better cultivated his understanding than the rest.” Daniel is then quoted as telling the king, “God had pity on us, when we were in danger of death; and when I prayed for the life of myself, and of those of my own nation, [he] made manifest to me both the dream and the interpretation thereof; for I was not less concerned for your glory than for the sorrow that we were by you condemned to die, while you did so unjustly command men, both good and excellent in themselves, to be put to death, when you commanded them to do what was entirely above the reach of human wisdom, and required of them what was only the work of God.”

In verse 28, after the reference to the “last” or “final” parts of the “days,” the Septuagint adds, “O king, may you live forever” (literally, “O king, live into the ages”). This is a formal way of expressing a wish for the long life of the king (much like the words, “long live the king”). The partially preserved text in a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana) supports the inclusion of the additional words. Although only the initial letter (mem [M]) of the word for “king” is preserved, the space until the next readable word in the manuscript is sufficient for the required additional words.

The rendering of verse 30 in the Septuagint differs somewhat from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. Daniel acknowledged that the mystery was not revealed to him on the basis of the “wisdom” he had in himself “above [that] of all men,” but it was shown to him to disclose to Nebuchadnezzar so that the king might recognize what he had “pondered in [his] heart.” In a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana), the partially preserved text contains an extra word (yattír) that may be rendered “exceedingly” or “exceptionally” in relation to the phrase that is not preserved (“more than all the living”).

The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967) does not include a reference to the “interpretation” in verse 36. It reads, “This [was] the vision we will tell before the king.”

In verse 40, the partially preserved text of a Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana) concludes with the words that may be rendered, “all the earth.”

A Dead Sea Daniel scroll (4QDana) begins verse 43 with the conjunction “and.”