This wondrous work of Art by Thomas Blackshear 11 illustrates the words of Daniel in the Old Testament. I would like to include a commentary by Matthew Henry from the site “Blue Letter Bible”which I love for the abundance of resources and variety of commentary and thought.
Some scholars take time to research the original Hebrew text and Greek origins of the meanings of words in The Bible which can offer fascinating insight as well. Some say that The Gospel can be read on many levels beginning only with the apparent text upon first read. This except of commentary by Henry (and there are a multiplicity of amazing sources of commentary even on the site that I suggested) begins earlier in the text with…
Nebuchadnezzar, before he relates the judgments of God that had been wrought upon him for his pride, gives an account of the fair warning he had of them before they came, a due regard to which might have prevented them. But he was told of them, and of the issue of them, before they came to pass, that, when they did come to pass, by comparing them with the prediction of them, he might see, and say, that they were the Lord’s doing, and might be brought to believe that there is a divine revelation in the world, as well as a divine Providence, and that the works of God agree with his word.
Now, in the account he here gives of his dream, by which he had notice of what was coming, we may observe,
I. The time when this alarm was given to him (v. 4); it was when he was at rest in his house, and flourishing in his palace. He had lately conquered Egypt, and with it completed his victories, and ended his wars, and made himself monarch of all those parts of the world, which was about the thirty-fourth or thirty-fifth year of his reign, Eze. 29:17. Then he had this dream, which was accomplished about a year after. Seven years his distraction continued, upon his recovery from which he penned this declaration, lived about two years after, and died in his forty-fifth year. He had undergone a long fatigue in his wars, had made many a tedious and dangerous campaign in the field; but now at length he is at rest in his house, and there is no adversary, nor any evil occurrent. Note, God can reach the greatest of men with his terrors even when they are most secure, and think themselves at rest and flourishing.
II. The impression it made upon him (v. 5): I saw a dream which made me afraid. One would think no little thing would frighten him that had been a man of war from his youth, and used to look the perils of war in the face without change of countenance; yet, when God pleases, a dream strikes a terror upon him. His bed, no doubt, was soft, and easy, and well-guarded, and yet his own thoughts upon his bed made him uneasy, and the visions of his head, the creatures of his own imagination, troubled him. Note, God can make the greatest of men uneasy even when they say to their souls, Take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry; he can make those that have been the troublers of the world, and have tormented thousands, to be their own troublers, their own tormentors, and those that have been the terror of the mighty a terror to themselves. By the consternation which this dream put him into, and the impression it made upon him, he perceived it to be, not an ordinary dream, but sent of God on a special errand.
III. His consulting, in vain, with the magicians and astrologers concerning the meaning of it. He had not now forgotten the dream, as before, ch. 2. He had it ready enough, but he wanted to know the interpretation of it and what was prefigured by it, v. 6. Orders are immediately given to summon all the wise men of Babylon that were such fools as to pretend by magic, divination, inspecting the entrails of beasts, or observations of the stars, to predict things to come: they must all come together, to see if any, or all of them in consultation, could interpret the king’s dream.
It is probable that these people had sometimes, in a like case, given the king some sort of satisfaction, and by the rules of their art had answered the king’s queries so as to please him, whether it were right or wrong, hit or missed; but now his expectation from them was disappointed: He told them the dream (v. 7), but they could not tell him the interpretation of it, though they had boasted, with great assurance (ch. 2:4, 7), that, if they had but the dream told them, they would without fail interpret it. But the key of this dream was in a sacred prophecy (Eze. 31:3, etc.), where the Assyrian is compared, as Nebuchadnezzar here, to a tree cut down, for his pride; and that was a book they had not studied, nor acquainted themselves with, else they might have been let into the mystery of this dream. Providence ordered it so that they should be first puzzled with it, that Daniel’s interpreting it afterwards might redound to the glory of the God of Daniel.
Now was fulfilled what Isaiah foretold (ch. 47:12, 13), that when the ruin of Babylon was drawing on her enchantments and sorceries, her astrologers and star-gazers, should not be able to do her any service.
IV. The court he made to Daniel, to engage him to expound his dream to him: At the last Daniel came in. v. 8. Either he declined associating with the rest because of their badness, or they declined his company because of his goodness; or perhaps the king would rather that his own magicians should have the honour of doing it if they could than that Daniel should have it; or Daniel, being governor of the wise men (ch. 2:48), was, as is usual, last consulted. Many make God’s word their last refuge, and never have recourse to it till they are driven off from all other succors.
He compliments Daniel very highly, takes notice of the name which he had himself given him, in the choice of which he thinks he was very happy and that it was a good omen: “His name was Belteshazzar, from Bel, the name of my god.’ He applauds his rare endowments: He has the spirit of the holy gods, so he tells him to his face (v. 9), with which we may suppose that Daniel was so far from being puffed up that he was rather very much grieved to hear that which he had by gift from the God of Israel, the true and living God, ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar’s god, a dunghill deity. Here is a strange medley in Nebuchadnezzar, but such as is commonly found in those that side with their corruptions against their convictions.
Thank you for your interest!