Daniel 2


Nebuchadnezzar, in the second year of his reign, (or in the

fourth, according to the Jewish account, which takes in the

first two years in which he reigned conjointly with his

father,) had a dream which greatly troubled him; but of which

nothing remained in the morning but the uneasy impression.

Hence the diviners, when brought in before the king, could give

no interpretation, as they were not in possession of the dream,


Daniel then, having obtained favour from God, is made acquainted

with the dream, and its interpretation, 14-19;

for which he blesses God in a lofty and beautiful ode, 20-23;

and reveals both unto the king, telling him first the

particulars of the dream, 24-35,

and then interpreting it of the four great monarchies. The then

existing Chaldean empire, represented by the head of gold, is

the first; the next is the Medo-Persian; the third, the

Macedonian or Grecian; the fourth, the Roman, which should

break every other kingdom in pieces, but which in its last

stage, should be divided into ten kingdoms, represented by the

ten toes of the image, as they are in another vision (Da 7:7)

by the ten horns of the fourth beast. He likewise informs the

king that in the time of this last monarchy, viz., the Roman,

God would set up the kingdom of the Messiah; which, though

small in its commencement, should ultimately be extended over

the whole earth, 36-45.

Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,

(named by the prince of the eunuchs, Shadrach, Meshach, and

Abed-nego,) are then promoted by the king to great honour,



Verse 1. The second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar] That

is, the second year of his reigning alone, for he was king two

years before his father's death. See Clarke on Da 1:1. This

was therefore the fifth year of his reign, and the fourth of the

captivity of Daniel.

Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams wherewith his spirit was troubled]

The dream had made a deep and solemn impression upon his mind;

and, having forgotten all but general circumstances, his mind was


Verse 2. The magicians] chartummim.

See Clarke on Ge 41:8.

The astrologers] ashshaphim. Perhaps from

nashaph, to breathe, because they laid claim to Divine

inspiration; but probably the persons in question were the

philosophers and astronomers among the Babylonians.

The sorcerers] mechashshephim.

See Clarke on De 18:10; and "Ex 22:18"; and "Le 19:31",

where several of these arts are explained.

The Chaldeans] Who these were is difficult to be ascertained.

They might be a college of learned men, where all arts and

sciences were professed and taught. The Chaldeans were the most

ancient philosophers of the world; they might have been originally

inhabitants of the Babylonian Irak; and still have preserved to

themselves exclusively the name of Chaldeans, to distinguish

themselves from other nations and peoples who inhabited the one

hundred and twenty provinces of which the Babylonish government

was composed.

Verse 4. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriac]

aramith, the language of Aram or Syria. What has been generally

called the Chaldee.

O king, live for ever] Malca leolmin cheyi.

With these words the Chaldee part of Daniel commences; and

continues to the end of the seventh chapter. These kinds of

compliments are still in use in the East Indies. A superior gives

a blessing to an inferior by saying to him, when the latter is in

the act of doing him reverence, "Long life to thee." A poor man,

going into the presence of a king to solicit a favour, uses the

same kind of address: O father, thou art the support of the

destitute; mayest thou live to old age!-WARD'S Customs.

Verse 5. Ye shall be cut in pieces] This was arbitrary and

tyrannical in the extreme; but, in the order of God's providence,

it was overruled to serve the most important purpose.

Verse 8. That ye would gain the time] The king means either that

they wished to prolong the time that he might recollect it, or get

indifferent about it; or that they might invent something in the

place of it; or make their escape to save their lives, after

having packed up their valuables. See Da 2:9.

Verse 10. There is not a man upon the earth] The thing is

utterly impossible to man. This was their decision: and when

Daniel gave the dream, with its interpretation, they knew that the

spirit of the holy gods was in him. So, even according to their

own theology, he was immeasurably greater than the wisest in

Babylon or in the world.

Verse 13. They sought Daniel and his fellows] As the decree

stated that all the wise men of Babylon should be slain, the four

young Hebrews, being reputed among the wisest, were considered as

sentenced to death also.

Verse 14. Captain of the king's guard] Chief of the king's

executioners or slaughter men. Margin, rab tabachaiya,

chief of the butchers, he that took off the heads of those whom

the king ordered to be slain, because they had in any case

displeased him. "Go and bring me the head of Giaffer." The

honourable butcher went and brought the head in a bag on a dish.

It was Herod's chief butcher that brought the head of John the

Baptist in a dish to the delicate daughter of Herodias. This was

the custom of the country. No law, no judge, no jury. The will or

caprice of the king governed all things. Happy England! know and

value thy excellent privileges!

Verse 16. That he would give him time] That is, that he might

seek unto God for a revelation of the thing. The Chaldeans dared

not even to promise this; they would only pledge themselves for

the interpretation, provided the king would furnish the dream.

Daniel engages both to find the lost dream, and to give the proper


Verse 18. That they would desire mercies] For this Daniel had

requested a little time; and doubtless both he and his three

companions prayed incessantly till God gave the wished for

revelation; but whether it was given that same sight, we do not


Verse 19. Then was the secret revealed-in a night vision.]

Daniel either dreamed it, or it was represented to his mind by an

immediate inspiration.

Verse 20. Wisdom and might are his] He knows all things, and can

do all things.

Verse 21. He changeth the times] Time, duration, succession are

his, and under his dominion. It is in the course of his providence

that one king is put down, and another raised up; and therefore he

can distinctly tell what he has purposed to do in the great

empires of the earth.

Verse 23. I thank thee and praise thee] No wonder he should feel

gratitude, when God by this merciful interference had saved both

the life of him and his fellows; and was about to reflect the

highest credit on the God of the Jews, and on the people


Verse 24. Destroy not the wise men] The decree was suspended

till it should be seen whether Daniel could tell the dream, and

give its interpretation.

Verse 27. Cannot the wise men] Cannot your own able men, aided

by your gods, tell you the secret? This question was necessary in

order that the king might see the foolishness of depending on the

one, or worshipping the other.

The soothsayers] One of our old words: "The tellers of truth:"

but gazerin is the name of another class of those curious

artists, unless we suppose it to mean the same as the CHALDEANS,

Da 2:2. They are supposed to be persons who divined by

numbers, amulets, &c. There are many conjectures about them,

which, whatever learning they show, cast little light upon this


Verse 28. There is a God in heaven] To distinguish him from

those idols, the works of men's hands; and from the false gods in

which the Chaldeans trusted.

In the latter days.] A phrase which, in the prophets, generally

means the times of the Messiah. God is about to show what shall

take place from this time to the latest ages of the world. And the

vision most certainly contains a very extensive and consecutive

prophecy; which I shall treat more largely at the close of the

chapter, giving in the mean time a short exposition.

Verse 31. A great image] Representing the four great monarchies.

Verse 32. Head was of fine gold] The Babylonish empire, the

first and greatest.

Breast and his arms of silver] The Medo-Persian empire, under

Cyrus, &c.

His belly and his thighs of brass] The Macedonian empire, under

Alexander the Great, and his successors.

Verse 33. His legs of iron] The Roman government.

His feet part of iron and part of clay.] The same, mixed with

the barbaric nations, and divided into ten kingdoms. See at the

end of the chapter. See Clarke on Da 2:49.

Verse 34. A stone was cut out] The fifth monarchy; the spiritual

kingdom of the Lord Jesus, which is to last for ever, and diffuse

itself over the whole earth.

Verse 35. The stone-became a great mountain] There is the

kingdom eben, of the stone, and the kingdom of the mountain.

See at the end at the chapter. See Clarke on Da 2:49.

Verse 37. The God of heaven] Not given by thy own gods, nor

acquired by thy own skill and prowess; it is a Divine gift.

Power] To rule this kingdom.

And strength] To defend it against all foes.

And glory.] Great honour and dignity.

Verse 38. Thou art this head of gold] See on Da 2:31-34, and

at the end. See Clarke on Da 2:49.

Verse 44. A kingdom which shall never be destroyed] The

extensive and extending empire of Christ.

Shall not be left to other people] All the preceding empires

have swallowed up each other successively; but this shall remain

to the end of the world.

Verse 45. The dream is certain] It contains a just

representation of things as they shall be.

And the interpretation thereof sure.] The parts of the dream

being truly explained.

Verse 46. The king-fell upon his face] Prostrated himself: this

was the fullest act of adoration among the ancients.

Worshipped Daniel] Supposing him to be a god, or Divine being.

No doubt Daniel forbade him; for to receive this would have been

gross idolatry.

Verse 47. Your God is a God of gods] He is greater than all


And a Lord of kings] He governs both in heaven and earth.

Verse 48. Made Daniel a great man] By, 1. Giving him many rich

gifts. 2. By making him governor over the whole province of

Babylon. And, 3. By making him the chief or president over all the

wise men.

Verse 49. Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach,

Meshach, and Abed-nego over the affairs of the province of

Babylon] He wished his three companions promoted, who had shared

his anxieties, and helped him by their prayers. They all had

places of trust, in which they could do much good, and prevent

much evil.

Daniel sat in the gate of the king.] That is, was the chief

officer in the palace; and the greatest confidant and counsellor

of the king. But whatever his influence and that of his friends

was, it extended only over the province of Babylon; not through

the empire.


Da 2:41-45.

I shall now consider this most important vision more at large,

and connect it with a portion of the previous history of the

Jewish people.

The kingdoms of Israel and Judah after a series of the most

unparalleled ingratitude and rebellion, against displays of mercy

and benevolence, only equalled by their rebellions, were at last,

according to repeated threatenings, given over into the hands of

their enemies. The inhabitants of the former country were subdued

and carried away captives by the Assyrians; and those of the

latter, by the Chaldeans.

The people of Israel never recovered their ancient territories;

and were so disposed of by their conquerors, that they either

became amalgamated with the heathen nations, so as to be utterly

undistinguishable; or they were transported to some foreign and

recluse place of settlement, that the land of their residence,

though repeatedly sought for and guessed at, has for more than two

thousand years been totally unknown.

Judah, after having been harassed by the Chaldeans, Egyptians,

and others, was at last invaded by Nebuchadnezzar, king of

Babylon; Jerusalem besieged and taken; and Jehoiachin the king,

who had before become tributary to the Babylonians, with his

mother, wives, officers of state, and chief military commanders,

princes, and mighty men of valour, to the amount of ten thousand;

and all the artificers, smiths, &c., to the number of one

thousand, with all that were fit for war, he carried captives to

Babylon; leaving only the poorest of the people behind, under the

government of Mattaniah, son of the late king Josiah, and uncle to

Jehoiachin; and, having changed his name to Zedekiah, gave him a

nominal authority as king over the wretched remains of the people.

Zedekiah, after having reigned nine years, rebelled against

Nebuchadnezzar, who, coming against Jerusalem with all his forces,

besieged it; and having reduced it to the last extremity by

famine, and made a breach in the walls, took the city, pillaged

and destroyed the temple by fire, slew the sons of Zedekiah before

his face, then put out his eyes, and carried him bound in brazen

fetters to Babylon, 2 Kings, 2Ki 24:1-25:30. Thus, the

temple of GOD, the most glorious building ever laid on the face

of the earth, was profaned, pillaged, and burnt, with the king's

palace, and all the houses of the Jewish nobility, in the eleventh

year of Zedekiah,-the nineteenth of Nebuchadnezzar,-the first of

the forty-eighth Olympiad,-the one hundred and sixtieth current

year of the era of Nabonassar,-four hundred and twenty-four years,

three months, and eight days from the time in which Solomon laid

its foundation stone!

In the same month in which the city was taken, and the temple

burnt, Nebuzar-adan, commander in chief of the Babylonish forces,

carried off the spoils of the temple, with the Jewish treasures,

and the principal part of the residue of the people; and brought

them also to Babylon. And thus Judah was carried away out of her

own land, four hundred and sixty-eight years after David began to

reign over it; from the division under Rehoboam, three hundred and

eighty-eight years; from the destruction of the kingdom of

Israel, one hundred and thirty-four years; in the year of the world,

three thousand four hundred and sixteen; and before the nativity of

our Lord, five hundred and eighty-eight.

In the fourth year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, A.M. 3397, B.C.

607, Nebuchadnezzar, having besieged Jerusalem, and made its king

tributary, carried away a number of captives; and among them was

the Prophet Daniel, then in his youth, who became, for his wisdom,

and knowledge of future events, very eminent at Babylon; and, with

some other Jewish captives, great favourites of Nebuchadnezzar the

king; who made Daniel president of all the wise men of his city.

It was in the second year of the reign of this king, that a

circumstance occurred which, though at first it threatened the

destruction of the prophet, finally issued in the increase of his

reputation and celebrity.

As prophecy is one of the strongest proofs of the authenticity

of what professes to be a Divine revelation, God endued this man

with a large portion of his Spirit, so that he clearly predicted

some of the most astonishing political occurrences and changes

which have ever taken place on the earth; no less than the rise,

distinguishing characteristics, and termination of the FOUR great

monarchies or empires, which have been so celebrated in all the

histories of the world. And as the Babylonian, under which he then

lived, was one of these monarchies, and was shortly to be absorbed

by the Medo-Persian, which was to succeed it, he made

Nebuchadnezzar, the then reigning monarch, by means of a most

singular dream, the particulars of which he had forgotten, the

instrument that appeared to give birth to a prediction, in which

the ruin of his own empire was foretold; as well as other mighty

changes which should take place in the political state of the

world, for at least the term of one thousand years next ensuing.

Nor did the prophetic Spirit in this eminent man limit his

predictions to these; but showed at the same time the origin and

nature of that FIFTH monarchy, which, under the great King of

kings, should be administered and prevail to the end of time.

The dream itself, with its interpretation, and the exact and

impressive manner in which the predictions relative to the four

great monarchies have been fulfilled, and those which regard the

fifth monarchy are in the course of being accomplished, are the

subjects to which I wish to call the reader's most serious and

deliberate attention.

This image, so circumstantially described from the thirty-eighth

to the forty-fourth verse, was, as we learn from the prophet's

general solution, intended to point out the rise and fall of four

different empires and states; and the final prevalence and

establishment of a fifth empire, that shall never have an end, and

which shall commence in the last days, Da 2:28; a phrase commonly

used in the prophets to signify the times of the Messiah, and in

the New Testament, his advent to judge the world.

Before we proceed to particular parts, we may remark in general,

that the whole account strongly indicates:-

1. The especial providence of God in behalf of the Jews at that

time. For, although suffering grievously because of their sins,

being deprived of both their political and personal liberty, God

shows them that he has not abandoned them; and the existence of a

prophet among them is a proof of his fatherly care and

unremitted attention to their eternal welfare.

2. The particular interference of God to manifest the

superiority of his truth, to wean an idolatrous nation from their

vanity and superstition, and lead them to that God who is the

fountain of truth, the revealer of secrets, and the governor of

all things.

And, 3. The direct inspiration of God immediately teaching his

servant things which could be known only to God himself, and thus

showing the Babylonians that his prophets had spoken by an

unerring Spirit; that the Jews were the depositaries of the true

religion; that HE was the only true God; and as he was omniscient,

so he was omnipotent; and the things which his wisdom had

predicted, his power could and would accomplish.

The sum of the account given in this chapter is the following:-

1. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in the second year of his

reign, about A.M. 3401, and B.C. 603, had a remarkable dream,

which, although it made a deep impression on his mind, yet, on his

awakening, he found it impossible to recollect; the general

impression only remaining.

2. He summoned his wise men, astrologers, &c., told them that he

had a dream or vision, which he had forgotten; and commanded them

to tell him the dream, and give its interpretation.

3. They request the king to tell them the dream; and promise,

then, to make known the meaning. This he could not do, having

forgotten it; yet he insists on their compliance on pain of death.

4. To tell the king his dream they find impossible; and a decree

for the destruction of the wise men of Babylon is issued, in which

Daniel and his fellows are included.

5. Daniel, hearing of it, speaks to Arioch, captain of the

king's guard or the royal executioner; desires to be brought

before the king; and promises to tell the dream, &c.

6. He is introduced; and immediately tells the king what he had

dreamed, and shows him its interpretation.


A vast image, exceedingly luminous, of terrible form, and

composed of different substances, appears in a night vision to the

king, of which the following is the description:-

I. Its head was of fine gold.

II. Its breast and arms of silver.

III. Its belly and thighs of brass.

IV. Its legs of iron, and its feet and toes of iron

and clay. While gazing on this image he sees,-

V. A stone cut out of a mountain without hands, which smites the

image on its feet, and dashes it all to pieces; and the gold, and

silver, brass, iron, and clay become as small and as light as


VI. A wind carries the whole away, so that no place is found for


VII. The stone becomes a great mountain, and fills the earth.

In order to explain this, certain DATA must be laid down.

1. This image is considered a political representation of as

many different governments, as it was composed of materials; and

as all these materials are successively inferior to each other, so

are the governments in a descending ratio.

2. The human figure has been used, both by historians and

geographers, to represent the rise, progress, establishment, and

decay of empires, as well as the relative situation and importance

of the different parts of the government. Thus Florus, in the

proaemium to his Roman history, represents the Romans under the

form of a human being, in its different stages, from infancy to

old age, viz.

Si quis ergo populum Romanum quasi hominem consideret, totamque

ejus aetatem percenseat, ut COEPERIT, utque ADOLEVERIT, ut quasi

ad quemdam JUVENTAE florem pervenerit; ut postea velut

CONSENUERIT, quatuor gradus progressusque ejus inveniet.

1. Prima aetas sub Regibus fuit, prope ducentos quinquaginta per

annos, quibus circum ipsam matrem suam cum finitimis luctatus est.

Haec erit ejus INFANTIA.

2. Sequens a Bruto, Collatinoque consulibus, in Appium Claudium,

Quinctiumque Fulvium consules, ducentos quinquaginta annos habet,

quibus Italiam subegit. Hoc fuit tempus viris armisque

exercitatissi mum! ideo quis ADOLESCENTIAM dixerit.

3. Dehinc ad Caesarem Augustum, ducenti quinquaginta anni,

quibus totum orbem pacavit. Hic jam ipsa JUVENTA Imperii, et quasi

quaedam robusta MATURITAS.

4. A Caesare Augusto in saeculum, nostrum, sunt non multo minus

anni ducenti, quibus inertia Caesarum quasi CONSENUIT atque


1. INFANCY; first stage-under KINGS, from Romulus to Tarquinius

Superbus; about two hundred and fifty years.

2. YOUTH; second stage-under CONSULS, from Brutus and Collatinus

to Appius Claudius and M. Fulvius; about two hundred and fifty


3. MANHOOD; third stage-the empire from the conquest of Italy to

Caesar Augustus; about two hundred and fifty years.

4. OLD AGE; fourth stage-from Augustus, through the twelve

Caesars, down to A.D. 200; about two hundred years.

Geographers have made similar representations, The Germanic

empire, in the totality of its dependent states, has been

represented by a map in the form of a man; different parts being

pointed out by head, breast, arm, belly, thighs, legs, feet, &c.,

according to their geographical and political relation to the

empire in general.

3. Different metals are used to express different degrees of

political strength, excellence, durability, &c.

4. Clay, earth, dust, are emblems of weakness, instability, &c.

5. Mountains express, in Scripture, mighty empires, kingdoms,

and states.

6. Stone signifies Jesus Christ, Ge 49:24; "From thence" (of

the posterity of Jacob) "is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel."

That our blessed Lord, "the good shepherd," Joh 10:11-17, is here

intended, will appear most plainly from the following passages;

Isa 8:14: "And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a STONE of

stumbling and for a ROCK of offense to both the houses of Israel."

Isa 28:16: "Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a

foundation a STONE, a tried STONE, a precious corner STONE, a sure

foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste."

1Pe 2:4, 6, 8. Collate these with Ps 118:22: "The STONE which

the builders refused is become the head STONE of the corner."

Mt 21:42; Mr 12:10; Lu 20:17; Ac 4:11; in which latter

quotations the whole is positively applied to Christ; as also

1Pe 2:4-8: "To whom coming as unto a living STONE," &c.; who

seems to have all the preceding passages in view. See also

Isa 2:2: "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established

in the top of the mountains," &c.

7. This stone is said to be cut out without hands, Da 2:34.

Without hands signifies that which is spiritual. So 2Co 5:1,

a house not made with hands means a spiritual building.

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